COVID-19 diaries with Zoe Buontempo: Fourth Year Dental Studies in Lock Down

Next COVID-19 diaries, this time with fourth year dental student Zoe Buontempo...

Zoe, a fourth year dental student at King's College London

I'm Zoe, a fourth year dental student at KCL. Currently sitting in our 5th (feels like 50th) week of lock down, how wrong I was thinking this will all blow over! I couldn't have fathomed just two months ago that when I should have been in London gearing up to enter 5th year mode, I would be sitting at home watching 'learn to play piano' tutorials - I don't even own a piano!

King's cancelled student clinics on the 17th March, clinical time was to be lost for the foreseeable future, patients rearranged and no change to say goodbye to our tutors, nurses and students. Within hours plans were cancelled or in talks to rearrange: my final hockey match and AGM, friend's birthday parties and my family holiday all gone in a few messages. Someone compared dealing with the virus to the stages of grief and I can relate. I felt so angry that something so intangible had snatched away what I'd been looked forward to, followed by the crash back to reality when perspective was gained. 

Lock down alone in a small London flat did not appeal so it was time for me to head home to the sunny (sometimes) Sussex coast. Coming home has been bittersweet, this is time I would never have had with my family; however, not seeing other relatives or friends and all being under the same roof 24/7 has been... challenging. 

Kings started immediately scheduling seminars with tutors and forums for case discussions. I have struggled to find motivation to engage - it feels surreal to be chatting to my friends from London and my tutor from my room at home. Returning back to London and university is exciting but daunting; I worry about catching up on the clinical time and feeling competent to start DFT in just over a year, I take some comfort that everyone is in the same boat. 

Constantly swiping on social media, the repetitive news cycle and concern for family, friends and key workers but being able to do nothing ended up with me feeling pretty low. Attempting to be proactive, I limited the screen time, unless it was to complete Instagram challenges, post pictures of banana bread or practice Spanish on Duolingo (I'm trying). Returning to the Harry Potter series has whiled away several hours in the sunshine and I am baking a batch of fruit scones a week - every cloud has a silver lining.

I started volunteering at my local food-bank over a week ago, finding a purpose for my time and a reason to get up in the morning has boosted my mood exponentially. The team have come together to help the local community sending out over 50 deliveries a day.

The team Zoe is volunteering with at the food bank - note social distancing!

Moving forward, in between Zoom pub quizzes, I keep the news to a ten minute update on the essential, intend to finish the Harry Potter series within the week and watch some webinars to keep my brain ticking over. Like all of us, I am so grateful to the NHS and key workers keeping the country running and I can't wait to cross two meters and hug my grandparents!

Take care. 

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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