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Student journalism competition: A year-long Covid-19’s impact on your teenagers’ souls

04:48 27/07/2021

The Bulletin launched its inaugural student journalism competition in the knowledge that adolescents risk being Covid’s “lost generation”. On top of the normal stresses of being a teenager, the social distancing and interruption to routine caused by the pandemic have taken an emotional toll.

So we felt it was important to hear their voices and give them a platform. How has the virus affected their studies and their lives? What has the experience taught them, and how has it changed them? Students aged 15 to 18 from international schools in and around Brussels responded. Although the competition was in English, all the entrants were multilingual, with experience of living in other countries.

Together, their essays reflect the difficult but frequently mundane reality of lockdown, or living under “house arrest” as one young writer described it. Their remarkable honesty shines a light on an unprecedented period in their lives. We were impressed by their creativity, their storytelling skills and their capacity for self-reflection, and would like to thank each of them, and their schools, for their enthusiastic participation.

This week: A customer review by Louise Binand

Product: A year-long Covid-19’s impact on your teenagers’ souls

One star out of five

Offered perspectives but ended up being huge disappointment

Brussels April 2021 (day 398…)

I find this event utterly ridiculous. It arrived harshly but politely, then took a complete turn and acted like it ruled the world! Distance learning was expected to provide relaxation, stability and ease, but I was very disappointed. It’s been about a year and I'm still waiting on at least the stability. In my 15 years of existence, never have I ever experienced such boredom in my room. I will cut it some slack because I have been able to stay in my pyjamas while working, being able to eat, drink and even sleep in, but it doesn’t count as the relaxation that was promised.

The sleeping in was followed up by stress, anxiety and insomnia, the eating was followed by only-fitting-in-sweatpants, self-doubt and insecurity, the drinking actually raised awareness of my previous dehydration but increased the time in the bathroom taking selfies, and lastly the pyjamas resulted in horrible BO and severe laziness, also known as adolescence. Any benefit came with a disadvantage. It allowed me to meet new people such as my sister, and I discovered what my father did for work. Eventually their company became an irritation, which resulted in isolation under the sheets accompanied by a floofster known as Leon. Floofster was not part of the deal but is the only acceptable consequence of this issue.

Distance learning killed my social skills but I personally found some joy in it. It allowed me to do a lot of self-reflection and to realise that I am indeed highly unorganised, I dislike working with others and I have no real hobby. I discovered my ability to function alone, which did come in handy, and I managed to discover I'm pretty good at several different things: filling in the awkward silences in Zoom meetings, teaching myself half of the subjects, and communication and research skills when it comes to handing in work and needing answers. Classes have turned into episodes of Dora the Explorer: the teacher asks a question, maybe repeats herself then answers it herself after a silence even though some of us are screaming the answer behind the camera while on mute. I will still wait for the relaxation and stability that were promised but nonetheless, the journey so far has been almost unbearable. I would prefer that the stability arrive first please as it has now become an urgent matter.



Louise Binand
Nationality French
Bogaerts International School
Residence Waterloo; I’ve lived most of my life in Singapore and Shanghai
Interests Acting, playing the guitar, painting, singing, arts and crafts, learning sign language
Ambition Get a liberal arts degree, majoring in psychology and comparative literature



Written by Louise Binand