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Impact of COVID-19 on Life of Students: Case Study in Hong Kong

1 Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4/Floor, Lek Yuen Health Centre, Shatin, Hong Kong, China; kh.ude.khuc@gnuekarev (V.M.W.K.); kh.ude.khuc@ualtnecniv (V.T.C.L.); kh.ude.khuc@gnuehcnivlac (C.K.M.C.); kh.ude.khuc@olailema (A.S.C.L.)

2 School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4/Floor, School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong, China

Vera M. W. Keung

Vincent t. c. lau, calvin k. m. cheung, amelia s. c. lo, associated data.

Not applicable.

COVID-19 has an impact on the day-to-day life of students, with school closure and detrimental effects on health and well-being that cannot be underestimated. A study collected data reflecting the health and well-being of secondary school students entering a programme entitled “Healthy Life Planning: Assist Students to Acquire and Practice Health Knowledge and Skills” (ASAP study) in September and October 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19. Follow-up data were collected in June and July 2020, over half a year since the spread of COVID-19, which facilitated analyses of its impact on the health behaviours and well-being of young people. Comparative analyses between baseline and the follow-up period were conducted on weight status, sleep pattern and quality, pattern of sedentary lifestyle, pattern of physical activity, attitudes and perceived barriers for exercise, and hand hygiene. Attitudes toward precautionary measures and influenza vaccination, self-reported changes in hygiene practices, exercise habits and eating habits were analysed. Although hygiene habits and risk perceptions among young people have improved in many aspects, the level of physical activity has declined as well as the beliefs and attitudes on increasing time on electronic media and change in sleep hygiene. Attitudes and beliefs towards influenza vaccination have declined, which would reflect the slow increase in the uptake rate of COVID-19 vaccination. Health education should equip students with the knowledge and skills to cultivate beliefs and attitudes to face health challenges.

1. Background and Introduction

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, lockdown measures have been implemented in many parts of the world. Implementation of physical measures to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses based on sustained physical distancing, restriction of social gathering, and “shut-down” measures has a strong potential to reduce the magnitude of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic [ 1 ].

However, impacts on other aspects of health must not be underestimated. A study during the semi-lockdown period has shown males with BMI 24 or above had lost weight, but all other subjects had gained weight as a result of a significant decline in the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise [ 2 ]. Obesity has been shown to increase the risk of mortality of COVID-19 after adjusting for confounding factors such as age in different parts of the world [ 3 ].

A study by Fong et al. in 2020 found that 65.3% of participants experienced increased stress due to staying at home and 29.7% experienced moderate to severe levels of depressive symptoms; increases in the use of electronic devices and decreases in outside activities were positively associated with a higher level of depression severity [ 4 ]. Studies have also found increasing prevalence of obesity [ 5 ] and myopia [ 6 ] among school children due to longer screen times, lack of physical activity, and living in small, crowded living and learning spaces at home. Increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet, leading to positive changes to their physical health, have also been shown to be associated with better mental health [ 7 , 8 ]. Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, cancer and diabetes are still constituting the main health burdens of society [ 9 ]. The main drivers for an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity would be a lack of places and opportunities to be physically active and industries’ opposition to public health interventions [ 10 ]. Behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks can explain half of the global mortality and more than one-third of global disability-adjusted life year (DALY) [ 11 ]. A substantial burden of global cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality is attributable to a sedentary lifestyle, and the attributable burden of high BMI has increased in the past 23 years; physical inactivity and unhealthy eating are the key underlying causes [ 11 ].

COVID-19 also has an impact on the day-to-day life of students with school closures [ 12 ]. Results of one study have shown a dramatic decline in assessment during COVID-19 in schools, suggesting lower performance when students start school in 2020 [ 13 ]. Schools may need to leverage decision-making frameworks, such as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support/Response-to-Intervention (MTSS/RTI) framework [ 14 ] to identify needs and target instruction where it matters most when school begins in late 2020. During the first half of the academic year in 2020 in Hong Kong, schools were closed during the spring term with online learning, with half-day sessions in the summer term before closure again due to a third wave in July 2020 in Hong Kong. Schools reopened after the summer break in September 2020, with half-day sessions, and closed again in early December 2020 due to the fourth wave. Schools reopened in February 2021 with half-day sessions. The government has imposed restrictions on social gathering including numbers of people grouped together and the operation of restaurants and recreation facilities. Many recreation facilities including public utilities were closed or operated under strict control of people flow periodically in 2020. There is a need to study the impact of COVID-19 on student life with disruption of usual school life and social interaction during that period.

The Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CHEHP) has pioneered the Healthy School/Health Promoting School (HPS) movement in Hong Kong and neighbouring countries over the last two decades [ 15 , 16 ]. It has developed many initiatives, making use of the HPS framework to improve the health literacy of students [ 15 ]. Recently, it launched the ASAP study (Healthy Life Planning: Assist Students to Acquire and Practice Health Knowledge and Skills) to enrich the knowledge and skills of students on a variety of health-related matters. The ASAP Project provided health educational materials covering nine teaching units designed for junior secondary schools. Topics covered sleep hygiene, infectious disease control, travellers’ health, physical activity, body image, stress management, etc. From these, teachers chose one or more units for school-based curriculum enrichment. They were also required to develop experiential learning activities for students based on the topics they have taught. Students might conduct project learning on them as well.

The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of students who received the ASAP program is being studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on student health and well-being by collecting data reflecting the health and well-being of students at the entry of ASAP (before COVID-19 outbreak), then at a yearly interval (after the outbreak), to analyse any changes.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. study design.

For this case study, comparative analyses between baseline and follow-up periods were conducted to identify potential changes in students’ weight status, sleep pattern and quality, pattern of sedentary lifestyle, pattern of physical activity, attitudes and perceived barriers for exercise, and hand hygiene. The attitudes toward precautionary measures to COVID-19 and influenza vaccination, self-reported changes in daily living habits, exercise habits, eating habits and hygiene practices were analysed.

The study has been approved by the Survey and Behaviour Research Ethics Committee (SBRE-19-104). The surveys were anonymous. The participating schools have obtained consent from parents and students and students’ participation was entirely voluntarily with no adverse repercussions.

2.2. Study Population

The study targeted students studying in grades between Secondary 1 (S1) and Secondary 3 (S3), aged about 11–15 years.

2.3. Sample Population

Eleven secondary schools in Hong Kong that participated in the ASAP study were invited to the pre-and-post questionnaire survey. School teachers were allowed to use the teaching materials provided by the programme to enrich their health-related curricula such as Physical Education, Technology and Living, Biology, and the school-based health curriculum. The teaching materials covered various health contents such as physical activities, sleep hygiene, stress management, body image, infectious disease control, dental health, the prevention of prolonged use of electronic devices, etc. At least one grade between S1 and S3 of the participating schools was beneficial to the study and eligible for the survey. A total of 1355 students studying in the selected grades were invited, and 1102 completed two administrations of the questionnaire, giving a response rate of 81.3%. The survey was anonymous and used the class number of each responding student to match the questionnaires completed in two administrations in September and October 2019 (baseline) and June and July 2020 (follow-up), respectively.

2.4. Measuring Tools

The Hong Kong Student Health Survey Questionnaire (HKSHQ) was used to collect data reflecting lifestyles, including hygiene practice and general health status. HKSHQ adopts a system of surveillance of student health status, taking reference from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance (YRBS) [ 17 , 18 ] and Wessex Healthy School Award [ 19 ], which has been used by CHEHP [ 20 , 21 , 22 ] with continuous refinement as a tool for assessing student health status and health-related outcomes [ 16 ].

The parameters on demography include date of birth, gender, and self-rated health status (3 questions). The survey also uses the Family Affluence Scale (FAS), which was utilised to reflect the economic status of the respondents’ family from the following criteria (4 questions): the number of vehicles owned by the respondent’s family; whether the respondent has a separate bedroom; the number of family trips; and the number of computers owned by the family [ 23 , 24 ]. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was utilised to measure sleep quality [ 25 ].

Self-reported body weight of students was classified into wasting, desirable, and obese according to the weight-for-height charts in a local guide to childhood growth and nutrition assessment by Leung [ 26 ]. The charts are gender-specific, in which obesity is defined as body weight values above 120% of the median weight-for-height, while wasting is defined as body weight values below 80% of the median weight-for-height. When the body height value of a subject exceeds the data available in the charts, Body Mass Index (BMI) cut-offs for Asian adult populations are used to interpret the subject’s body weight, where a value between 18.5 kg/m 2 and 22.9 kg/m 2 is considered normal [ 27 ].

The Theory of Planned Behaviour by Ajzen [ 28 ] was applied in this survey to assess the attitudes and perceived behavioural control on physical activity ( Appendix A ). Similarly, the study also assessed the attitudes and perceived behavioural control on the uptake of influenza vaccination. COVID-19 vaccination was not available at the time of data collection, so their attitudes towards influenza vaccination would help us understand their perspectives on vaccination. Since follow-up data were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic, questions reflecting the respondents’ risk perception (such as the wearing of face masks, hand hygiene, social distancing, actions taken with suspected symptoms) were added to the questionnaire.

The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSE) by Morris Rosenberg was adopted in this survey to evaluate self-esteem in teenagers at the baseline of the study [ 29 , 30 ]. Leung and Wong [ 31 ] studied the validity and reliability of the Chinese translation of the RSE and gave recommendations on the Chinese wordings in some of the items. The current study adopted the Chinese translations recommended by Leung and Wong for item 3 (“I feel like a person who has a number of good qualities”), 7 (“I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others”) and 8 (“I wish that I could have more respect for myself”) to optimise the reliability. The RSE and the Theory of Planned Behaviours [ 28 ] give a complete description of the non-cognitive development of the participants and a clear indication of the effects of the interventions in developing the habit of doing exercise and receiving a flu vaccine to prevent them from being infected.

The Mental Toughness Scale for Adolescents (MTS-A) by McGeown, St. Clair-Thompson and Putwain [ 32 ] was adopted in this survey to examine the mental toughness of teenagers before and after the interventions. The scale is an 18-item Likert scale with items answered on a four-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. The concept of mental toughness in adolescents includes six domains: challenge, interpersonal confidence, confidence in abilities, emotion control, control of life, and commitment. Three statements describe each of the above domains in the teenager context, and respondents have to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree with each sentence. The author of MTS-A has granted the research team permission to use the scale supplemented with the Chinese translation.

2.5. Data Collection

The study collected data reflecting the health and well-being of students at the beginning and then at a yearly interval to monitor any changes. The baseline data were collected in September and October 2019 at the beginning of the academic year before the outbreak of COVID-19, and follow up data were collected in June and July 2020, half a year after its outbreak.

2.6. Data Analysis

The McNemar test was used to determine if there were differences among dichotomous dependent variables (such as whether the subjects had played ball games over the last seven days) between pre and post groups. Paired t-test was used for similar purposes but for comparing the means of continuous dependent variables (such as the subjects’ attitude score toward physical activities). A difference was considered statistically significant if the p -value was <0.05. Data were analysed by SPSS Statistics, version 25.0.

3. Findings

Table 1 describes the background demographic characteristics of the subjects, including socioeconomic status. The subjects had an average age of 13.28 years at baseline and 13.99 years at follow-up (standard deviation: 1.07 year). Sixty percent (60.2%) of them were female because two participating schools were girls’ schools, while the other nine were co-education. The subjects came from schools in urban settings, semi-urban settings and satellited towns.

Demographic characteristics of the subjects (N = 1102).

a Semi-urban setting b Urban setting. c Satellite towns (evolved from rural areas to urban setting).

About 50% of students came from the middle affluence group and about one-quarter from either high or low affluence groups. Most of the schools in this study are located in districts with monthly median domestic household incomes below the overall median level in Hong Kong. The sample is not skewed towards higher socioeconomic groups.

Results of the current study show that the proportion of students classified as obese decreased from 23.0% to 20.5% and 13.3% to 12.0% among male and female students, respectively. The changes were not statistically significant.

The percentage of students engaged in 60 min of moderate to vigorous exercise decreased with statistical significance from 40.8% to 30.1%, particularly those rigorous activities taking place in groups or in public, or vigorous activities such as running and jogging, ball games, swimming, playground activities, skating, and martial arts ( Table 2 ). The item “stretching” was added to the post-test questionnaire. Over one-fourth of students (26.6%) reported that they had done some stretching during the seven days before the post-survey, but no baseline data were available for direct comparison.

Level of physical activity.

Footnote . The item “stretching” was added to the post-test questionnaire. Over one-fourth of students (26.6%) reported that they had done some stretching during the seven days before the post-survey, but no baseline data were available. McNemar Test was performed. Arrows indicate the direction of significant changes. NS: non-significant.

Higher proportion of students spent more than two hours on an average school day watchng video programmes as well as internet surfing (not for academic purpose) on both ordinary school days and during holiday with statistical significance ( Table 3 ). The percentage of students who perceived no influence on the prolonged use of electronic media increased, and those who perceived eye fatigue and shoulder discomfort reduced ( Table 3 ). However, an increased impact on their concentration and study was reported with statistical significance ( Table 3 ). The proportion of students going to bed after 11:00 pm increased from 43.5% to 66.1%, and that of students getting up after 8:00 am increased from 10.0% to 32.9% with statistical significance, though sleep quality was not affected significantly ( Table 3 ). Self-reported handwashing behaviours improved, with a higher proportion of students washing hands thoroughly and a smaller proportion not taking handwashing seriously with statistical significance ( Table 4 ).

Time spent on electronic media (non-academic purpose) and sleep time.

Footnote . McNemar Test was performed except for comparing the average sleep hours and the scores of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). A PSQI score above 5 indicates poor sleep quality in the respondent. Paired t-test was performed to compare means. Arrows indicate the direction of significant changes. NS: non-significant.

Self-reported handwashing behaviours (number of valid cases = 971).

Footnote . McNemar Test performed. Arrows indicate the direction of significant changes.

Table 5 shows the changes in attitudes and beliefs towards physical activities from baseline to follow-up. The decline is observed in the goal of action, attitudes, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control, behavioural beliefs and norm beliefs with statistical significance. The behavioural intention and control beliefs also declined, although statistical significance was not detected.

Attitudes and beliefs toward physical activities.

Footnote . Paired t-test was performed to compare means. NS: non-significant.

Regarding the changes in attitudes and beliefs towards influenza vaccination from baseline to follow-up, Table 6 shows a decline in all domains with statistical significance, particularly behavioural intention and subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. Students are a target group for influenza vaccination in Hong Kong. Table 7 shows that a high proportion of students would continue wearing face masks and handwashing, but there was a lower proportion for other hygiene measures. This is reflected by just over half of students (54.9%) reporting a significant change in hygiene habits. More than half of students (52.8%) reported a decrease in physical activities such as running and walking, and 41.2% reported fewer ball games, and only a low proportion of students reported having participated in other physical activities such as outdoor activities ( Table 7 ). Although students tend to eat healthier at home, this proportion (55.0%) is not very high, and less than one-fifth of students (17.5%) had a significant change in eating habits ( Table 7 ).

Attitudes and beliefs toward influenza vaccination.

Footnote . Paired t-test was performed to compare means.

Change in health and hygiene behaviours during COVID-19.

Table 8 shows students’ intention to maintain precautionary measures over the next three months post-test. The majority of students would continue to wear a face mask and be meticulous about handwashing, in line with findings of current practices, shown in Table 6 . About half of the students would like to see a relaxation on physical distancing and restriction of gathering to allow more interaction. Students have a higher risk perception of respiratory symptoms; they would not go to school or activities and would only continue if no fever and reporting symptoms ( Table 8 ).

Intention to maintain precautionary measures over next three months post-test.

4. Discussion

The decline in the level of physical activity and the prolonged use of electronic media, with increasing effects on students’ learning, concentration, and sleep pattern (going to bed late and getting up late), are worrying ( Table 2 and Table 3 ). Socioecological models state that a person’s health status is not only influenced by individual behaviours, but also by factors situated in a person’s environment [ 33 , 34 ]. The concept of “environment” captures multiple dimensions, and a Built Environment (BE) can be defined broadly as “the human-made space in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis” [ 35 ]. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BE has been altered due to various preventive and lockdown measures. It not only encompasses green spaces and parks, but also includes the internal environment and social capital (defined as social networks and interactions that inspire trust and reciprocity among citizens) [ 36 ]. The social environment, part of the BE, refers to factors such as social support and social networks, social deprivation, and social cohesion and systems [ 37 ]. BE shapes individual health behaviour through diverse mechanisms and can be adverse or beneficial for health [ 38 ]. Neighbourhoods that are more walkable, either leisure-oriented or destination-driven, are associated with increased physical activity, increased social capital, lower overweight rates, lower reports of depression, and less reported alcohol use [ 39 ]. Better street connectivity or walkability tended to be positively related to increased physical activity and walking [ 40 ].

One study has found that adolescents undertook more physical activity during lockdown if they had stronger prior physical activity habits, but some were unsure of what to do when they did not have instruction from a coach. Some adolescents reported that physical activity became a method of entertainment during lockdown, and this mindset change increased the level of physical activity [ 41 ]. Living space is very limited in Hong Kong, making physical activity at home not feasible for many young people. Online coach-led physical activity sessions have helped encourage and support adolescents to follow online exercise routines [ 41 ]. The implementation of lockdown measures and school closures has a significant impact on the BE, not only in terms of walkability and connectivity but also in terms of social connectivity and support. Apart from the effect on physical activities, we must not underestimate its negative effect on other aspects of health, such as psycho-social well-being, as a result of the impact of COVID on the BE diminishing social capital. This might be reflected by less positive beliefs and attitudes towards physical activities ( Table 5 ). Around half of the students reported a decreased frequency of walking or running and ball games without much increase in other types of indoor physical activities ( Table 7 ).

Although staying at home should enable students to eat healthier, this proportion is not high and less than 20% of students had a significant change in eating habits ( Table 7 ). Previous studies have revealed a low level of physical activities and healthy eating among secondary students [ 42 , 43 ]. COVID-19 might have worsened these conditions.

Some previous studies stated that lockdown and school closures might exacerbate childhood obesity [ 44 ] and cause unhealthy changes to the diet of students [ 45 , 46 ]. Past studies also support the claim that when students are not in school, they tend to have less healthy diets [ 47 ]. The findings of our survey showed similar results, with 29.2% students consuming unhealthy takeaway food, and one-fifth of students having increased consumption of soft drinks (20.2%), desserts (19.8%) and crispy food (19.7%). However, over half of the students (55.0%) indicated that they had healthier meals at home, and 38.6% of them consumed more fresh fruits, implying that the COVID-19 pandemic might have brought not only negative impacts but also some positive changes to the diet of students. Such positive changes may partly be explained by the fact that before the pandemic, most secondary students in Hong Kong consumed their lunch at nearby restaurants or fast food shops when they had whole-day classes on average school days [ 14 ]. School suspension as well as the fear of infection drove students to stay home for food, while lockdown and work-from-home arrangements also allowed more parents to prepare meals for their children. Further studies are required to investigate whether such changes will lead to any changes in childhood obesity in Hong Kong.

The percentage of students who perceived no influence on the prolonged use of electronic media increased, but those who perceived eye fatigue and shoulder discomfort reduced ( Table 3 ). This may be due to adaptation. However, prolonged use had an impact on their studies and concentration as well as sleep pattern ( Table 3 ).

It is encouraging to observe the improvement in hand hygiene reflected by more serious handwashing ( Table 4 ). However, it is disappointing and alarming to find the decline in beliefs and attitudes, including motivation and perceived control, towards influenza vaccination with statistical significance (most showing p-value lower than 0.001) ( Table 6 ). This could be due to school suspension during the pandemic, and so, they perceived having a lower risk of being infected. However, the scores at baseline were already low, which makes it difficult to identify a further significant decline. This might reflect the weak perception of the beneficial effect of influenza vaccination. It might also account for the slow increase in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination in Hong Kong [ 48 ], which is also observed in other parts of the world [ 49 ]. Previous studies on predictive factors of influenza vaccination suggested that factors related to health belief models such as perceived adverse effects and efficacy and advice given by health care professionals are determinant factors for the uptake of vaccination [ 50 , 51 ].

The uptake rate of COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong is still unsatisfactory, despite the availability and accessibility of the vaccine. There is room for improvement to enhance the health beliefs and attitudes towards vaccines for preventing the disease. A study on the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine found that people who perceived the seriousness of the infection, vaccine conferring benefits, and received calls to action were significantly more likely to accept the vaccine [ 52 ]. Conversely, perception of barriers to accessibility and potential harm of the vaccine were found negatively to be associated with their acceptance. Recommendation by the government stood out as the most important cue. Public health intervention programmes focusing on increasing the perception of the benefits of vaccination and perceived susceptibility to infection while reducing the identified barriers should be warranted [ 53 ]. The study also revealed that the public values efficacy and safety more than the cost of vaccines. Another study in the US found that a greater likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance was associated with more knowledge about vaccines, less acceptance of vaccine conspiracies, elevated COVID-19 threat appraisals, and being up to date with influenza immunisation [ 49 ]. The other demographic predictors of a likelihood of being vaccinated against COVID-19 were higher income group (income of USD 120,000 or higher) and being a Democrat (in comparison to the reference category Republican), and respondents relying on social media for information about COVID-19 anticipated a lower likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance. More public health interventions targeting those factors facilitating and hindering uptake should be put in place.

The closure of schools during COVID-19 could result in the loss of opportunity to foster positive beliefs and attitudes in students towards influenza vaccination. It could also have an impact on the low uptake rate of COVID-19 vaccination. From the findings of this study, there is room to enhance the perception of the benefits of vaccination against infectious disease in students, particularly before pandemics and the potential consequences if not vaccinated. Health education should cultivate a positive and supportive culture to support family members and friends to receive the vaccination. Health literacy includes access and analysing health information and problem solving such as breaking the barriers to access these services. This would help to improve the acceptance and uptake rate. A recent study in Hong Kong has found a higher level of vaccine acceptance among the youngest adult group (age 18 to 24), which would be due to better exposure to vaccine education and receiving the free vaccine at birth [ 52 ]. Findings from this study have shown that students perceived the importance of wearing face masks in public places, were meticulous about handwashing and highly vigilant with regard to respiratory symptoms ( Table 8 ). Risk perceptions are a critical determinant of health behaviour, and the profile of risk perceptions and accuracy of perception would affect the association between risk perceptions and health behaviours [ 54 ]. Although a high level compliance of facemask wearing was observed and more people maintained social distancing and used alcohol hand rub during the pandemic, decreasing willingness to accept the COVID-19 vaccines was also observed. This might be associated with increasing concerns about vaccine safety and growing compliance of personal protection behaviours [ 55 ]. Therefore, the concept of “ASAP” should be adopted for school curriculum development to assist students in acquiring and practicing health knowledge and skills, including health risk perception and preventive measures for infectious diseases from a broader perspective that includes vaccination.

A substantial proportion of students expressed their wishes to relax social distancing and restriction of gathering ( Table 8 ). Although measures such as closing and restricting most places where people gather in smaller or larger numbers for extended periods (businesses, bars, schools and so on) are most effective, they can cause substantial collateral damage to society, the economy, trade and human rights [ 56 ]. This study has shown the collateral damage to students’ health and well-being and their health beliefs and attitudes. The COVID-19 pandemic has also been found to lead to an increase in myopia among young children in Hong Kong; the prevalence of myopia among school-age children during the pandemic has increased significantly compared to a study conducted before the outbreak [ 57 ]. Prolonged exposure to screens and less time spent outdoors were linked to faster progress in myopia, according to researchers. One study found several highly effective measures that are less intrusive, including land border restrictions, governmental support to vulnerable populations and risk-communication strategies [ 58 ]. Therefore, governments and other stakeholders should consider adopting non-pharmaceutical interventions tailored to the local context when infection numbers surge (or surge a second time) before choosing those intrusive options. Less drastic measures may also foster better compliance from the population [ 52 ].

There are limitations to this study. The subjects are participants of the ASAP study, not a random sample of secondary students. The demography of the students is not markedly different from the demography of students in Hong Kong. They do not skew towards particular demographic characteristics except for the subjects’ gender as two schools are girls’ schools while the others are co-education.

There is a potential bias that they are more health-conscious and have better knowledge and more positive attitudes towards health. Most of the schools are located in districts with median monthly household income below the median in Hong Kong. The sample is not skewed towards higher socioeconomic groups. The students should be more resilient towards the impact of COVID-19 on healthy living. The findings of the study that reflect the beliefs, attitudes, perceived control, and behaviours of students under the pandemic have significant implications. There is an assumed hypothesis that students with better health literacy will maintain positive health beliefs and positive attitudes and behaviours towards healthy living. The findings will help to test this assumption and shed light on which aspects of their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours can be sustained under adverse conditions (such as COVID-19) and how young people should be supported further, notwithstanding that they might have enriched knowledge and skills in health.

Another limitation is the lack of a control group. It is technically difficult to engage more students and schools to participate in the survey under the COVID-19 situation. Moreover, there will not be a perfect control group as schools and students cannot be controlled to receive information and skills enhancement to fight against COVID-19. However, the study has included studies on belief, perceived barriers of control, and attitudes. The findings would partially explain why students behave in a particular way during the COVID-19 period. The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been experienced for nearly a century. Data reflecting the impact on students’ life would provide useful insights for combating similar challenges in the near future.

5. Conclusions

The current study reveals the changes in physical activities, hygiene and dietary behaviours in Hong Kong adolescents between September 2019 and July 2020, when the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) started to hit many parts of the world, resulting in the pandemic. These changes include less moderate and rigorous physical activities, and the attitudes and beliefs of students towards physical activities have become less positive and less persistent. Although hygiene habits and risk perceptions among young people have improved in many aspects, attitudes and beliefs towards influenza vaccination have declined, which would reflect the slow increase in the uptake rate of COVID-19 vaccination. This study has shown the changes in students’ health behaviours, beliefs and attitudes. Health education targeting young people and the public should equip them with the knowledge and skills to cultivate beliefs and attitudes and this would have impact on risk perceptions and behaviours to face health challenges.


We would also like to thank the school teachers for using the teaching materials provided by the ASAP study and facilitating students to complete the survey.

  • Attitude (4 items): “My taking regular physical activity over the next six months would be…” (harmful to beneficial; unpleasant to pleasant; unenjoyable to enjoyable) and “My attitude towards doing physical activity is…” (from very negative to very positive)
  • Perceived Barrier Control (2 items): “For me to exercise for at least 60 minutes every day for the next fortnight will be…” (from very easy to very difficult) and “I am confident that I can accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity every day in the next two weeks.” (from strongly disagree to strongly agree)

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, A.L. and V.M.W.K.; methodology and analysis, V.M.W.K. and V.T.C.L.; writing—original draft preparation, A.L.; writing—reviewing and editing, V.M.W.K., C.K.M.C. and A.S.C.L. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Keung M.W., Cheung K.M. and Lau T.C. were supported by a grant from the Quality Education Fund (QEF 2017/1070) awarded to Lee A. QEF was established in 1998 by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for educational initiatives and projects within the ambit of school education of Hong Kong, including kindergarten, primary, secondary and special education.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The survey was approved by the Survey and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (SBRE-19-104).

Informed Consent Statement

School consent was obtained from each participating school.

Data Availability Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

  • Research article
  • Open access
  • Published: 11 December 2021

Satisfaction with life among university students from nine countries: Cross-national study during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic

  • Aleksandra M. Rogowska 1 ,
  • Dominika Ochnik 2 ,
  • Cezary Kuśnierz 3 ,
  • Monika Jakubiak 4 ,
  • Astrid Schütz 5 ,
  • Marco J. Held   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2370-2905 5 ,
  • Ana Arzenšek 6 ,
  • Joy Benatov 7 ,
  • Rony Berger 8 , 9 ,
  • Elena V. Korchagina 10 , 11 ,
  • Iuliia Pavlova 12 ,
  • Ivana Blažková 13 ,
  • Zdeňka Konečná 14 ,
  • Imran Aslan 15 ,
  • Orhan Çınar 16 &
  • Yonni Angel Cuero-Acosta 17  

BMC Public Health volume  21 , Article number:  2262 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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A cross-sectional study was performed to examine life satisfaction differences between university students from nine countries during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A cross-national comparison of the association between life satisfaction and a set of variables was also conducted.

Participants in the study were 2349 university students with a mean age of 23 years ( M = 23.15, SD = 4.66). There was a predominance of women (69.26%) and individuals studying at the bachelor level (78%). The research was conducted between May and July 2020 in nine countries: Slovenia (n=209), the Czech Republic (Czechia)(n=308), Germany (n=267), Poland (n=301), Ukraine (n=310), Russia (n=285), Turkey (n=310), Israel (n=199), and Colombia (n=153). Participants completed an online survey involving measures of satisfaction with life (SWLS), exposure to COVID-19, perceived negative impact of coronavirus (PNIC) on students' well-being, general self-reported health (GSRH), physical activity (PA), and some demographics (gender, place of residence, level of study). A one-way ANOVA was used to explore cross-national differences in life satisfaction. The χ 2 independence test was performed separately in each country to examine associations between life satisfaction and other variables. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to identify life satisfaction predictors among a set of demographic and health-related variables in each of the nine countries.

The level of life satisfaction varied between university students from the nine countries. The results for life satisfaction and the other variables differed between countries. Numerous associations were noted between satisfaction with life and several variables, and these showed cross-national differences. Distinct predictors of life satisfaction were observed for each country. However, poor self-rated physical health was a predictor of low life satisfaction independent of the country.


The association between life satisfaction and subjective assessment of physical health seems to be universal, while the other variables are related to cross-cultural differences. Special public health attention should be focused on psychologically supporting people who do not feel healthy.

Peer Review reports

Satisfaction with life is the global method of cognitively self-judging well-being across a broad set of factors relating to human life, including work, family, physical and mental health, and the sexual sphere [ 1 ]. Research has shown that life satisfaction is one of the most important indicators of successful adaptation to life, and it can be beneficial for health, longevity, and social relationships [ 2 , 3 ]. Among various factors that may be associated with high life satisfaction, income, job satisfaction, needs satisfaction, resilience, and social relationships and support have been identified as positive predictors, whereas unemployment, stress, anxiety, and depression have been shown to decrease life satisfaction [ 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 ].

An infectious disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-Cov-2) was first reported in Wuhan (China) in early December 2019 and then spread rapidly around the world [ 18 , 19 ]. The first wave of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) appeared globally in February 2020 and lasted until the middle of the year. Many countries introduced a period of lockdown that involved various levels of restrictions. Depending on the country, these involved travel, shopping, gatherings, separation from friends and family, physical exercise, and access to critical public services including medical and social services, childcare, and education. A national quarantine caused a rapid transformation of the education system worldwide, from traditional stationary learning to remote online learning, and this was a significant stress source for university students and teachers [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ]. Difficulties with online learning included unstable internet connections, the need for additional investment in a greater internet limit, increased struggles with time management, and problems with focusing while learning online [ 24 ]. Stress was also related to the loss of social gatherings.

A review study [ 25 ] demonstrated that coronavirus-related lockdowns were associated with many adverse psychological effects, such as increases in negative emotions, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression, leading to declines in work performance and family functioning and increases in financial problems. The study also showed the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sexual life, particularly among women [ 26 , 27 , 28 ]. Research performed in many countries indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic decreased mental health and life satisfaction [ 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 ]. However, comparative studies between countries are lacking. We studied nine countries during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared the results, and identified predictors of life satisfaction in university students.

Among the various predictors of well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, female gender was found to be related to lower satisfaction with life and higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression [ 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ]. Current good health and high exercise status affected life satisfaction during the lockdown [ 38 , 39 , 42 , 43 , 49 , 50 , 51 ]. Eek et al. [ 52 ] showed that people who reported decreased physical activity (PA) levels during the COVID-19 pandemic reported low levels of life satisfaction and aerobic capacity. Moreover, adults who exercise more have a lower risk of being infected with coronavirus [ 53 ]. In the Spanish population, Gonzalez-Bernal et al. [ 54 ] recently associated high life satisfaction with fewer days of home confinement, the perception of having received enough information about COVID-19 and its prevention, having private access to the outside, being employed, being male, and not experiencing isolation. Also, a high level of work engagement and a low level of family conflict may be predictors of high satisfaction with life [ 55 ].

Studies performed during the COVID-19 pandemic showed significant decreases in well-being and life satisfaction in particular [ 39 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 56 , 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 ]. However, predictors of satisfaction with life during the coronavirus pandemic, in particular among the university student population, have not been identified. There is also a lack of international research comparing the level of life satisfaction among countries at the same point in the pandemic, namely during the first wave of its outbreak. This study compares university students' satisfaction with life in the following nine countries: Slovenia, the Czech Republic (Czechia), Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and Colombia. Those countries differ significantly in terms of well-being, as indicated by the World Happiness Report 2021 based on the Gallup World Poll survey [ 64 ]. According to that report, these countries were ranked in the following positions among 149 countries in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic: Germany (rank 7), Israel (rank 11), Czechia (rank 16), Slovenia (rank 26), Poland (rank 39), Colombia (rank 55), Russia (rank 60), Ukraine (rank 69), and Turkey (rank 78). However, we expect more nuanced differences among the university student population. Even though students are a socially privileged population, they have a higher risk of developing depression than the general population, and this was the case even in the pre-pandemic period [ 65 , 66 ].

Concurrently, we examined predictors of life satisfaction such as gender, place of residence, level of study, physical activity, exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic, perceived negative impact of COVID-19 on students' well-being (including qualifications, economic status, and social relationships), and physical health.

Study design and procedure

A cross-national online survey study was performed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, between May and July 2020, in nine countries: Slovenia (May 14–26), the Czech Republic (June 17–July 24), Germany (2–25 June), Poland (May 19–June 25), Ukraine (May 14–June 2), Russia (1–22 June), Turkey (16–29 May), Israel (May 21–June 3), and Colombia (June 5). Students were recruited from the following universities: Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin (Poland, n = 148), University of Opole (Poland, n = 152), University of Primorska in Koper (Slovenia, n = 209), Mendel University in Brno (Czech Republic, n = 310), Lviv State University of Physical Culture (Ukraine, n = 310), Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia, n = 155), Higher School of Economics (Russia, n = 90), St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance (Russia, n = 42), University of Bamberg (Germany, n = 270), University of Haifa (Israel, n = 199), Bingöl University (Turkey, n = 148), Atatürk University (Turkey, n = 110), Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University (Turkey, n = 35); Ağrı İbrahim Çeçen University (Turkey, n = 6); Fırat University (Turkey, n = 3); Kırıkkale University (Turkey, n = 1), Adnan Menderes University (Turkey, n = 1), Başkent University (Turkey, n = 3), Boğaziçi University (Turkey, n = 1), Dicle University (Turkey, n = 1), and Istanbul University (Turkey, n = 1), Del Rosario University (Colombia, n = 142), and El Bosque University (Colombia, n = 13, 8%). The survey was created and distributed via Google Forms in all countries, except for Germany where SoSci Survey was used. To meet cross-cultural adaptation standards [ 67 , 68 ], partners from various countries translated survey questions from English into the original languages. The invitations to the online questionnaire were disseminated to students via e-mail, social media (e.g., Facebook, Viber, LINK, Telegram), and e-learning platforms (e.g., Moodle, MS Teams). In some countries, researchers also collaborated with student trade unions and student government organizations to disseminate invitations to participate in the study among students from target universities. The eligibility criterion was being a college or university student. All respondents were eligible for inclusion in the research and confirmed their student status by answering the question about their current year and field of study. The participants completed the questionnaire within 23 minutes on average ( M = 23.26; SD = 44.03). To minimalize sources of bias, we collected a diverse student sample in terms of its key characteristics: type of university, field of study, and study cycle.

The University Research Ethics Committee (KEBN) at the University of Opole approved the study protocol (no. 1/2020). Students were assured about the anonymity and confidentiality of the survey and were informed that they could pull out of the study whenever they wanted. Informed consent was obtained from all participants, since information about the study and informed consent were included in the first section of the questionnaire. The study was conducted according to the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards (like the APA ethical standards). In seven countries, no compensation was offered to students or researchers as an incentive to participate. In Germany, however, university students were able to register for the chance to win a 20 EUR Amazon gift card, if they participated. Israeli students could win a 300 NIS gift card. No specific funding was given to scientists for the research and manuscript preparation. This study is part of an international research project "Well-being of undergraduates during the COVID-19 pandemic: International study" and is registered at the Center for Open Science (OSF) [ 69 ].

The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) measures global cognitive judgments regarding satisfaction with one's life [ 1 , 2 ]. The scale consists of five items, to which respondents indicate how much they agree or disagree using a seven-point Likert scale (from 7 = Strongly agree , to 1 = Strongly disagree ). Total scores ranged from 5 to 35, where the lowest scores indicate that a person is Extremely dissatisfied (scores between 5 and 9), scores ranging from 10 to 14 indicate Dissatisfied , 19-19 indicate Slightly dissatisfied , 20 indicates Neutra l, 21-25 indicate Slightly satisfied , 26-30 indicate Satisfied , and 31-35 indicate Extremely satisfied . For the purpose of the further analysis using the χ 2 independence test and logistic regression, we dichotomized the SWLS scores into Lower (SWLS < 20, coded as 0) and Higher (SWLS > 21, coded as 1). The SWLS has shown satisfactory psychometric properties, a high level of internal consistency (Cronbach's α ranging from 79 to 89 in various studies), and high temporal reliability [ 3 ]. In the current study, Cronbach's α was 0.85 for the total sample and ranged between 0.60 and 0.86 in samples from particular countries (see Table 2 for more details).

Exposure to COVID-19 [ 43 ] was assessed by eight questions about the consequences of the coronavirus, including infection, coronavirus testing, hospitalization for coronavirus, being in strict quarantine for at least 14 days, coronavirus infection in a close family member, die of the relative, job loss, and deteriorating economic status due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals answered each of these questions (1 = Yes , 0 = No ). A higher coronavirus exposure was related to a higher total score as a sum of eight items. Outcomes were classified into two categories: Lower exposure (score of 0, coded as 0) and Higher exposure (scores of 1-8, coded as 1).

The Perceived Negative Impact of the Coronavirus (PNIC) [ 43 ] on the students' well-being was measured using five statements. Participants answered each item using a 5-item Likert scale (from 1 = I strongly disagree , to 5 = I definitely agree ) to express their level of fear regarding how the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic may negatively affect their life in each of the following five areas: (1) Completing the semester and qualifications; (2.) Finding a job and professional development; (3.) Financial situation; (4.) Relationships with loved ones and family; and (5.) Relationships with colleagues and friends. A total perceived negative impact of the coronavirus (PNIC) score was a sum of all items. Higher scores have been interpreted as the more significant impact of the coronavirus on students' lives. We used the median to dichotomize the total scores for the PNIC and its three subscales: Qualifications, Economic Status, and Social Relationships. For further statistical tests, the total PNIC was coded as follows (for the χ 2 independence test and logistic regression): Lower (PNIC < 15, coded as 0); Higher (PNIC > 16, coded as 1). We added the scores of items 1 and 2 to form the Qualifications scale (then coded them as 0 = Lower, scores 2-6; 1 = Higher, scores 7-10), items 4 and 5 to form the Social Relationships scale (coded as 0 = Lower, scores 2-4; 1 = scores 5-10), and item 3 alone was used for the Economic Status scale (coded as 0 = scores 1-3; 1 = scores 4-5). The internal reliability of the scale across all countries was assessed with Cronbach's α and a score of 0.71 was obtained.

The General Self-Rated Health (GSRH) is a shorter alternative to the standard general health survey (SF-12V) [ 70 , 71 ]. The GSRH contains two items. The first question concerned overall physical health (GSRH-1) (i.e., "In general, would you say your health is…?"), while the second, was a self-comparison of health with other people (i.e., "Compared to others your age, would you say your health is…?") (GSRH-2, Comparative). Both GSRH items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Excellent , 2 = Very Good , 3 = Good , 4 = Fair , and 5 = Poor ). Therefore, higher scores indicate a worse health status. Higher mortality was found among those who had poorly assessed their health using GSRH-1 [ 70 ]. We spilt the GSRH scores as follows (for the χ 2 independence test and logistic regression): Better health (GSRH < 3, code 0); Worst health (GSRH > 4, coded as 1). The reliability coefficient for GSRH was Cronbach's α = 0.88 ( N = 2,349) in the present study.

Physical activity (PA ) [ 43 ] was evaluated using the following question "How many days a week did you exercise physically or pursue sports activities at home or away from home, at the university, in clubs, or at the gym, in the last month?". Participants marked their answer on an eight-point scale (from 0 = Not one day to 7 = Seven days a week ). Next, the students evaluated how many minutes per day (on average) they spent on practice (minutes per day of PA). To calculate the previous week's PA level, the number of days was multiplied by the number of minutes per day. The participants were divided into two groups based on the PA total score, Sufficient (PA > 150 minutes weekly) and Insufficient (PA < 150 minutes weekly), according to the WHO recommendation [ 72 ].

Demographic data [ 69 ] included questions about age (number of years), gender (female, male), place of residence (village, town, city, agglomeration/metropolis), and current level of study (Bachelor, Master). We divided the answers regarding the place of residence into two categories (for the χ 2 independence test and logistic regression): the first included students living in a village or town and the second included those living in a city, agglomeration, or metropolis.


Initially, data collection included 2453 people, but 104 students (4.24% of the total sample) declined to participate. The final total sample included 2349 university students from the following nine countries: Slovenia ( n = 209, 8.90%), the Czech Republic ( n = 308, 13.20%), Germany ( n = 267, 11.49%), Poland ( n = 301, 12.81%), Ukraine ( n = 310, 13.20%), Russia ( n = 285, 12.13%), Turkey ( n = 310, 13.20%), Israel ( n = 199, 8.47%), and Colombia ( n = 153, 6.60%). The mean age of university students was 23 years, with a range from 18 to 60 ( M = 23.15, SD = 4.66). Most of the students were female ( n = 1627, 69.26%), lived in a village/town (1284, n = 54.66), and were studying at the bachelor level ( n = 1843, 78.45%). The distribution of demographics with regard to each particular country is shown in Table 1 .

A required sample size for each country was determined using G*Power software [ 73 ]. With a medium effect size W = 0.30, an alpha-level of p = 0.05, a power of 0.95, and df = 1, a power analysis for the χ 2 contingency table resulted in a sample size of n = 145. To avoid missing data, the survey required participants to complete all answers on each page. Therefore, participants filling in the questionnaire via Google Form did not omit any answers. However, the hot-deck imputation was introduced to deal with the low number of missing data (n = 5, 0.02%) in the German sample (conducted via SoSci Survey).

Statistical Analysis

A preliminary analysis of the proportion of all variables was conducted before statistical tests were applied. First, a one-way ANOVA was performed to test the differences in mean scores of life satisfaction between university students from the following countries: Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and Colombia. The Tukey's honest significant difference (HSD) test was used to find means that were significantly different from each other.

Second, Pearson's χ 2 independence test was conducted to examine associations between satisfaction with life and other variables. Contingency tables (2 x 2) were created for each country separately for the following dichotomized variables: satisfaction with life (Lower, Highest), gender (Women, Men), place of residence (Village/Town, City), level of study (Bachelor, Master), level of physical activity (Sufficient, Insufficient), exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic (Lower, Higher), perceived negative impact of COVID-19 on students' well-being, as well as impacts on qualifications, economic status, and social relationships (Lower, Higher), self-rated physical health (Better, Worst), and comparative self-rated physical health (Better, Worst). Students from Colombia (100%) were assigned to the Town/City category, and 97% ( n = 151) to the first cycle study. Thus, place of residence and level of study were excluded from the statistical analysis of the Colombian sample. The effect size for the χ 2 test was assessed using the ϕ coefficient.

Next, a logistic regression analysis was performed in each country separately to test the odds ratio (OR) and the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) with 95% CI , to find predictors of satisfaction with life. Demographic variables (gender, place of residence, and level of study), physical activity, exposure to COVID-19, perceived negative impact of COVID-19 on students’ well-being, and physical health (general and comparative) were examined as potential predictors of life satisfaction. Statistica 13.3 [ 74 ] was performed for statistical analyses.

Proportion of satisfaction with life and other variables in the study

The present study found that most university students (60.54%) were satisfied with their life (SWLS > 21). The country with the highest proportion of participants reporting higher SWLS score was Colombia (81.94%) and the lowest was Turkey (28.06%). Most participants had been exposed to COVID-19 (68.67%); the highest rate was in Colombia (83.87%), while the lowest was in the Czech Republic (41.61%). Most participants had a high total PNIC (54.53%), with the highest rate in Colombia (78.06%) and the lowest in Germany (39.63%). The area of qualifications was a leading source of concern for the majority of the student sample (57.94%), with the highest rate of concern occurring in Poland (75.75%) and the lowest in the Czech Republic (46.45%). Additionally, concerns about the PNIC were related to an economic area in 59.34% of university students, with this type of concern being most common in Poland (71.74%) and least common in Germany (38.15%). Social relationships were also perceived to be at risk by most participants (58.24%), with the highest rate of concern among Turkish students and the lowest among Slovenians (43.54%). An in s ufficient level of physical activity (PA < 150 min per week) was reported by 61.86% of university students, most frequently in Turkey (85.48%) and less often in Slovenia (38.28%). Few participants complained about their physical health (9.75%), with the lowest rate of complaints occurring among participants from the Ukraine (3.55%) and the highest among those from Russia (17.89%). Worsening health was indicated in 13.58% in the total sample, with the lowest frequency in participants from the Ukraine (4.19%) and the highest in those from Russia (22.81%). The distribution of variables in particular countries is presented in Table 1 .

Differences in satisfaction with life between students from the nine countries

Differences between university students from nine countries (Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Israel, and Colombia) were analyzed using one-way ANOVA. The results indicate that the mean level of life satisfaction significantly differed between participants from different countries with a large effect size ( F (8, 2340) = 49.81, p < 0.001, η p 2 = 0.15; see Table 2 and Figure 1 for more details).

figure 1

Mean scores of satisfaction with life for university students from the nine countries. Error bars are 95% of confidential interval ( CI ). Differences at the *** p < 0.001 are marked only for the neighboring countries in the figure

University students from Slovenia had significantly higher scores in the SWLS than their counterparts from Poland ( p < 0.001) and Turkey ( p < 0.001), while they had lower scores than those from Germany ( p < 0.01). Satisfaction with life was higher among individuals from the Czech Republic than among those from Poland ( p < 0.001), Russia ( p < 0.001), and Turkey ( p < 0.001). University students from Germany presented a higher level of life satisfaction than students from other countries. Statistically significant differences were found in comparison to Poland ( p < 0.001), Slovenia ( p < 0.01), Ukraine ( p < 0.001), Russia ( p < 0.001), Turkey ( p < 0.001), and Israel ( p < 0.001). Students from Poland had significantly higher scores in the SWLS than participants from Turkey ( p < 0.001) but lower than those from Slovenia, the Czech Republic ( p < 0.001), Germany ( p < 0.001), Ukraine ( p < 0.001), and Israel ( p < 0.001). The level of life satisfaction of Ukrainian students was significantly higher than that of their counterparts from Turkey ( p < 0.001) and lower than that of participants from Germany ( p < 0.001). Russian students showed significantly lower life satisfaction than participants from the Czech Republic ( p < 0.001), Germany ( p < 0.001) and Colombia ( p < 0.001), while they had higher scores than individuals from Turkey ( p < 0.001). Turkish students had the lowest scores in the SWLS, and significant differences ( p < 0.001) were found in comparison to all other eight countries. Participants from Israel showed a higher level of satisfaction with life than students from Poland ( p < 0.001) and Turkey ( p < 0.001) and a lower level of satisfaction than students from Germany ( p < 0.001). Life satisfaction in Colombian students was higher than in their counterparts from Poland ( p < 0.001), Russia ( p < 0.001), and Turkey ( p < 0.001).

Associations between satisfaction with life and other variables

Associations between life satisfaction and other variables were determined using Pearson's χ 2 independence test to assess the nine countries (details are included in Table 3 ). Gender was associated with satisfaction with life in Germany and Russia. Higher life satisfaction was reported more frequently among females in Germany ( p < 0.01, ϕ = 0.16) and males in Russia ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.21). A slight predominance of individuals with high life satisfaction was found for Polish ( p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.13) and Israeli ( p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.14) university students living in the city, when compared with those from villages or towns. Higher life satisfaction was more likely among students studying at a masters level than compared with those studying at a bachelors level in the Czech Republic ( p < 0.01, ϕ = 0.18) and Poland ( p < 0.01, ϕ = 0.16). A sufficient level of physical activity was slightly more prevalent than an insufficient level among participants with higher levels of satisfaction with life in Slovenia ( p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.14) and Ukraine ( p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.12).

Significantly more respondents with higher levels of life satisfaction reported low exposure to COVID-19 in Slovenia ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.29), the Czech Republic ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.19), Russia ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.23), Turkey ( p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.18), and Germany ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.15). The perceived negative impact of coronavirus on students’ well-being (PNIC) was not associated with life satisfaction in Ukraine or Colombia. In Slovenia and Poland, students with higher levels of life satisfaction were more likely to report lower PNIC scores ( p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.23, and p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.14, respectively) as well as lower scores regarding PNIC qualifications ( p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.19, and p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.16, respectively), economic status ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.23, and p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.17, respectively), and social relationships ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.16, and p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.15, respectively). Among Turkish university students, those with higher scores regarding satisfaction with life more frequently had lower PNIC scores in terms of both social relationships ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.23) and economics ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.13), as well as lower total scores ( p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.16). In Germany, significantly more participants with higher levels of life satisfaction had lower total PNIC scores ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.24) as well as lower scores regarding anxiety about qualifications ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.24) when compared with their counterparts, who reported higher PNIC scores. In the sample of Russian students who were more satisfied with their lives, a lower economic status PNIC was reported more frequently ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.12). Additionally, people with lower total PNIC scores were slightly more prevalent in the Israeli population ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.15).

A better GSRH-1 was associated with higher life satisfaction in all countries: Slovenia ( p < 0.001, ϕ =- 0.25), the Czech Republic ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.13), Germany ( p < 0.001, ϕ =- 0.23), Poland ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.21), Ukraine ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.13), Russia ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.15), Turkey ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.14), Israel ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0,25.), and Colombia ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.20). Additionally, a better comparative GSRH-2 was related to higher satisfaction with life in most countries (beside Ukraine and Colombia): Slovenia ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.17), Czech Republic ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.22), Germany ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.14), Poland ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.22), Russia ( p < 0.001, ϕ = -0.20), Turkey ( p < 0.01, ϕ = -0.16), and Israel ( p < 0.05, ϕ = -0.17).

Predictors of satisfaction with life

A logistic regression was performed to identify significant predictors of life satisfaction among a set of variables that were previously included in the relationship analysis using the Pearson χ 2 test (see Table 4 for more details). Females from Germany were 2-3 times more likely to rate their life satisfaction highly than males (OR = 3.35, 95% CI = 1.24, 4.44; AOR = 3.24, 95% CI = 1.55, 6.77). However, half as many Russian males than females were satisfied with their lives. (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.23, 0.67; AOR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.19, 0.63). The multivariate model showed that about twice as many Russian (AOR = 2.38, 95% CI = 1.03, 3.13) and Israeli (AOR =1.79, 95% CI = 1.10, 5.17) university students who were satisfied with their lives were living in a city than in a village or town, but no effect was identified in a bivariate regression model. Half as many Polish students living in the city considered their lives to be satisfying compared with those from a village or town, but this effect was only statistically significant in the bivariate model (OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.34, 0.94). Individuals from the Czech Republic (OR = 2.81, 95% CI = 1.43, 5.51; AOR = 2.94, 95% CI = 1.39, 6.20) studying at the masters level were three times more likely Masters students from Poland (OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.33, 0.84; AOR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.29, 0.82) were two times more likely to have high life satisfaction when compared with their counterparts at the bachelor degree. The bivariate regression showed that having a sufficient level of PA is a predictor of satisfaction with life for participants from Slovenia (OR = 0.55, 95% CI = [0.31, 0.98]) and Ukraine (OR = 1.64, 95% CI = 1.03, 2.61), and this was also shown for those from the Czech Republic (AOR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.03, 3.56) in a multivariate model of logistic regression.

Both the bivariate and multivariate models showed that participants from Slovenia who had not been exposed to COVID-19 were 2.5-4 times more likely (OR = 3.99, 95% CI = 2.03, 7.8]; AOR = 2.63, 95% CI = 1.25, 5.56) and participants from the Czech Republic (OR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.25, 0.70; AOR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.24, 0.74), Germany (OR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.22, 0.88; AOR = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.20, 0.98), Russia (OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.31, 0.90; AOR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.31, 0.93), and Turkey (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.22, 0.70; AOR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.22, 0.80) were about 2 times more likely to report a high level of life satisfaction (when compared with those who had experienced greater exposure to coronavirus).

The low total perceived negative impact of coronavirus (PNIC) on the daily lives of students was identified as a significant predictor of higher life satisfaction among students from Slovenia (OR = 2.59, 95% CI = 1.44, 4.63), Germany (OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.16, 0.56), Poland (OR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.10, 3.16), Turkey (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.27, 0.81), and Israel (OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.30, 0.98), but only in a bivariate model of regression. Students from Slovenia (OR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.24, 3.97), Germany (OR = 0.27, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.54), Poland (OR = 2.16, 95% CI = 1.25, 3.73), and Colombia (AOR = 0.28, 95% CI = 0.09, 0.90) with a lower PNIC in the area of Qualifications were significantly more satisfied with their lives. Individuals from Slovenia (OR = 2.72, 95% CI = 1.50, 4.93), Poland (OR = 2.14, 95% CI = 1.27, 3.59; AOR = 2.68, 95% CI = 1.42, 5.06), Russia (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35, 0.97), and Turkey (OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.34, 0.94) who were less worried about their economic status were more satisfied with their lives. The lower the perceived negative impact of COVID-19 on social relationships, the higher the level of life satisfaction noted among university students from Slovenia (OR = 1.94, 95% CI = 0.02, 1.94), the Czech Republic (OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.33, 0.90), Poland (OR = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.17, 3.21), and Turkey (OR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.13, 0.51; AOR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.10, 0.58).

In the bivariate regression model, good physical health was indicated 2-7 times more frequently among participants with a high level of life satisfaction when compared with those with the worst health status in all countries of interest: Slovenia (OR = 5.78, 95% CI = 1.98, 16.88), the Czech Republic (OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.11, 0.87), Germany (OR = 0.27, 95% CI = 0.13, 0.55), Poland (OR = 7.16, 95% CI = 2.06, 24.84), Ukraine (OR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.06, 0.92), Russia (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.25, 0.86), Turkey (OR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.83), Israel (OR = 0.06, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.47), and Colombia (OR = 4.06, 95% CI = 1.27, 13.96). However, in the multivariate model, this pattern was only presented in Slovenia (AOR = 4.12, 95% CI = 1.11, 15.31), Germany (AOR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.13, 0.98), and Israel (AOR = 0.06, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.70). Additionally, having a better comparative GSRH-2 score was a predictor of satisfaction with life for students from Slovenia (OR = 2.69, 95% CI = 1.19, 6.07), the Czech Republic (OR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.11, 0.51; AOR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.83), Germany (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 10.24, 0.91), Poland (OR = 4.28, 95% CI = 1.96, 9.35; AOR = 2.89, 95% CI = 1.14, 7.34), Russia (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.21, 0.67; AOR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.19, 0.81), Turkey (OR = 0.24, 95% CI = 0.08, 0.70), and Israel (OR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.13, 0.85). Comparative GSRH-2 was not found to be a predictor of life satisfaction for students from Ukraine and Colombia.

This study explored cross-national differences in life satisfaction and its predictors during the COVID-19 pandemic among university students from nine countries. Successful adaptation to life regarding school, work, and family is related to a high level of life satisfaction [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Liu et al. [ 56 ] showed that the psychological well-being of undergraduate students could influence their academic and professional success and the development of society as a whole. Therefore, studies of student life satisfaction at the beginning of adult life and the related challenges seem necessary, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our results suggest that there are differences between countries in terms of the number of university students with high and low scores, as well as in the average level of life satisfaction and associations between satisfaction with life and other variables. The highest mean level of life satisfaction was reported among university students from Germany ( M = 25.11, which means that they are "slightly satisfied with their life"), and the lowest was reported among their counterparts from Turkey ( M = 16.64, which is interpreted as "slightly dissatisfied"). The low level of life satisfaction of Turkish students may be related to the current volatile economic situation [ 75 ] and the high unemployment rate [ 76 ]. Substantial individual differences in life satisfaction as well as between cultures have been shown in numerous previous studies [ 2 ]. Diener et al. [ 2 ] explained these differences as being related to genetic individual differences that predispose people to a more or less positive state as well as to cross-cultural norms regarding positive emotions. At the cross-cultural level, satisfaction with life depends on some ubiquitous needs, such as the need for temperature control, food, income, health, environmental control, and social relationships. These needs can drive people's desires, be used to set goals to be achieved, and provide a level of comparison with others, ultimately driving the subjective assessment of life satisfaction.

Although most university students from the nine countries were satisfied with their lives (61%), the highest rate of satisfaction occurred for students from Colombia (82%) and the lowest was for students from Turkey (28%). Decreases in well-being due to COVID-19 have previously been shown in adult populations from many countries [ 25 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 ] as well as in university and college students [ 39 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 56 , 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 ]. The present study found large differences between student samples from different countries, indicating a high level of disparity in self-rated life satisfaction. It may be dependent on culture rather than on the current state and perceived risk of the COVID-19 pandemic, since students from Colombia were the most likely to report a high level of life satisfaction but also experienced the highest rate of exposure to coronavirus (84%) and had the greatest PNIC scores (78%) in comparison to their counterparts from the other eight countries.

Exposure to COVID-19 may explain, to some degree, a low level of satisfaction with life among participants, but not in all nine countries. Overall, the majority of university students stated that they had experienced some level of exposure to COVID-19, including symptoms of coronavirus infection (and related testing, isolation from loved ones, strict quarantine for at least 14 days, hospitalization) recognized in themselves or in family members or friends or losing a job or experiencing a worsening economic status because of the coronavirus. Moreover, individuals who reported exposure to the coronavirus were more likely to demonstrate a low level of life satisfaction during the first wave of the pandemic. The present study suggests that university students from Slovenia who had not been exposed to COVID-19 were three times more likely and those from the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, and Turkey were two times more likely to indicate a high level of life satisfaction than people experiencing the effects of the pandemic. Previous research showed that exposure to COVID-19 and a perceived negative impact of the pandemic on livelihood are predictors of mental health problems [ 77 ].

Most university students indicated a perceived negative impact of coronavirus (PNIC) on their well-being (54%). The primary sources of coronavirus-related concerns among students were their economic status (59%), social relationships (58%), and qualifications (58%). The perceived impacts of these variables on well-being were noted by 20-40% of participants, depending on the country (there were less cross-national differences regarding social relationships and more regarding qualifications). The level of disparity may be related to the degree of changes in health care politics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the degree of distancing, and the better or worse organization of the transition process from classroom learning to online e-learning.

This study found an association between high life satisfaction and a low perceived negative impact of coronavirus (PNIC) in most countries but not in Ukraine and Colombia. However, this association was weak and was present only in the bivariate model of regression. Previous research indicates that subjectively assumed restrictions during lockdown were associated with poor mental health in a large nationwide community sample of adults from Germany [ 78 ]. In particular, a more significant perceived change in life related to a reduction in social contact caused higher impairments in areas of well-being such as loneliness, psychosocial distress, anxiety and depression symptoms, fear, and life-satisfaction [ 31 , 34 , 35 , 54 , 78 , 79 ]. Gawrych et al. [ 31 ] showed that decreases in the level of happiness and life satisfaction during the first stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland were associated with anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic, including concerns about loved ones, healthcare failure, and consequences of the pandemic at individual and social levels.

The present study found that anxiety about getting the right qualifications was a significant predictor of lower life satisfaction among students from Slovenia, Germany, Poland, and Colombia. Competence and capability seem to be essential for the well-being of university students. A previous study [ 80 ] showed that perceived teaching competencies might positively predict school satisfaction and satisfaction with life among physical education students. Unfortunately, the transformation of the education system during lockdown was very stressful due to internet connection problems and the significant amount of time required to master new technologies, including software and hardware [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ]. Research exploring the impact of the pandemic on the students' well-being found that the coronavirus outbreak affected the amount of time spent doing classes and self-study online. This affected learning, sleeping habits, and the daily fitness routine and had subsequent effects on weight, social life, and mental health [ 21 ]. Additionally, university teachers experienced high levels of emotional exhaustion, mental overload, and time pressure, as well as stress due to lacking a schedule during the rapid transition process from classroom to e-learning [ 22 ]. This may have translated into a sense of stress among students and a reduction in the quality of education.

Participants from Slovenia, Poland, Russia, and Turkey who did not notice a drop in income were more satisfied with their lives. This result is consistent with previous research that showed a positive association between having a high income and life satisfaction both before [ 2 ] and during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 77 ]. In particular, job and income loss during the coronavirus outbreak caused a deep decline in life satisfaction in the UK male population [ 13 ].

Disruption in social relationships, as a leading source of concerns, was identified as a predictor of lower life satisfaction in students from Slovenia, Czechia, Poland, and Turkey. Social support is an important factor that affects people's lives and well-being. Previous findings suggest that undergraduates with higher social support levels have substantially greater adaptability and life satisfaction than university students with lower social support levels [ 17 ]. Another study showed that perceived social isolation is associated with low life satisfaction [ 30 ]. A research conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak indicated that perceived social support and resilience play mediating roles as protective buffers in the relationship between perceived stress and life satisfaction [ 16 ]. On the other hand, a recent study found that psychological and social distancing can play mediation roles and explain how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts both perceived general health and life satisfaction [ 81 ]. This study seems to confirm that social isolation is an essential factor in student's well-being.

Most of the university students studied self-rated their physical health as good (almost 90%). However, participants who had experienced a worse health status were 2-7 times more likely to be unhappy than people with good health. This pattern of bivariate association was significant in all nine countries. When the other variables were included in the multivariate regression model, the association was shown to be much weaker and only occurred in Slovenia, Germany, and Israel. Apart from in participants from Ukraine and Colombia, comparatively better self-rated health was also a predictor of higher satisfaction with life. The strongest relationships were noted in Poland and Slovenia, with those with comparatively good levels of health being 4 and 2.5 times more satisfied than those with poor health, respectively. The positive association between health and satisfaction with life was also shown in previous studies (e.g.,82-84) and is consistent with Diener's concept of satisfaction with life [ 1 , 2 ].

The study identified a positive association between engaging in a sufficient level of PA and life satisfaction level for university students from Slovenia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. However, the effect size was weak. This result is consistent with previous studies performed during the COVID-19 pandemic that showed that PA has a beneficial effect on mental health by reducing nervous tension and negative emotions, decreasing depression and anxiety, and improving sleep quality and well-being [ 38 , 39 , 42 , 43 , 49 , 50 , 51 , 52 ]. A low level of PA and prolonged sitting time during lockdown were associated with a poor health-related quality of life and a high level of perceived stress among Chinese adults [ 41 ]. PA can also be seen as a protective factor against the risk of coronavirus infection [ 52 , 85 ]. Therefore, the low level of PA among university students found in this study is alarming. Most participants (62%) reported an in s ufficient level of PA, where “sufficient” was defined as a minimum of 150 minutes per week, as recommended by the WHO. The number of physically active students differed between countries, ranging from high in Slovenia (50%, the highest frequency of active students) to low in Turkey (the lowest number of people with a sufficient PA level). The level of disparity between countries may be related to cross-cultural differences. The low levels of PA among university students found in this study may be due to coronavirus-related restrictions and the recommendation to stay at home. Exercising outside the home was prohibited during the lockdown period, and sports and fitness clubs were closed in most of the countries studied. Previous studies indicate that the level of PA decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic in populations from many countries worldwide [ 38 , 47 , 86 , 87 ].

The study did not find an association between gender and life satisfaction, apart from weak associations in Germany (females more satisfied) and Russia (males more satisfied). Previous research found a negative relationship between mental health and well-being and female gender during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ]. Additionally, male participants from Spain were found to be more satisfied with their lives than females in a previous study [ 54 ]. Research conducted in Israel found that females have a high risk for developing secondary effects from the COVID-19 pandemic such as decreased well-being in both psychological and social life areas [ 34 ]. On the other hand, a recent study performed globally in 166 countries found small gender differences with higher levels of life satisfaction in females than males [ 88 ]. A higher rate of satisfaction with life among females than males was found in German students, which seems to confirm these general trends. The COVID-19 pandemic may have had a less disruptive effect in such a stable country as Germany, whereas in Russia, changes related to lockdown caused decreasing life satisfaction in females. Bambra et al. [ 40 ] suggested that gender-based health inequalities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increased level mortality among males and an increased level of morbidity among females. This may explain why gender differences changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and decreased life satisfaction was more common in females (compared with males). More research is necessary to examine the association between gender and life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This study found a positive association between satisfaction with life and living in the city (in contrast to the countryside) among students from Poland, Russia, and Israel. Previous research indicated that the prevalence of COVID-19 infection in rural areas was substantially higher than in urban areas, especially among obese people and smokers [ 89 ]. However, rural areas tend to have a more limited ability to adapt to coronavirus challenges in terms of hospital resources, internet connectivity, satisfactory employment, and income compared with urban areas. This higher level of uncertainty may decrease life satisfaction among students living in the countryside. Additionally, participants from the Czech Republic and Poland, studying at the master level, were more likely to assess their life as satisfying when compared with their counterparts studying at the bachelor level. This result is consistent with a previous study conducted among undergraduates on the relationship between study year and symptoms of mental health disorder [ 56 ]. The highest levels of stress, anxiety, and depression were found in first and second year students on average, but some improvements in well-being were achieved in the third and last years of study. This suggests that along with the duration of their studies, students improve their ability to adapt to the university's conditions and develop more efficient coping strategies.

Limitation of the study

Although this study identified significant predictors of life satisfaction in a large sample of university students from nine countries, the findings should be interpreted with caution due to the cross-sectional design. We cannot determine whether potential predictors preceded the current level of satisfaction with life. Therefore, the causal relationships identified may be biased. Longitudinal research is required in the future to verify the findings of the current study. The online method of recruiting participants to gain a convenience sample using social media and e-mailing a list of students does not allow us to generalize the results of this study to the population of university students as a whole. Self-reported measures may also be a source of bias. Furthermore, we have used a relatively new set of measurements: Exposure to COVID-19, PNIC, and PA [ 43 ] which has not yet been well-validated.

This study identified a significant association between satisfaction with life and various demographic and health-related variables in university students from nine countries. The results of this study could be used as preliminary evidence of causal relationship between life satisfaction and exposure to COVID-19, the perceived negative impact of COVID-19 on students' well-being, physical health, physical activity, and some demographic risk factors (like gender, place of residence, and study level). The relationship of life satisfaction with most variables of interest seems to be related to cross-cultural differences, since a wide range of cross-national differences were found in terms of both prevalence rates and relationships between variables. However, an association between life satisfaction and subjective physical health assessment suggests that there is a universal pattern that is relatively independent of country. Therefore, each country should develop individual strategies to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its psychological and health-related consequences. These strategies should consider specific risk factors and follow general public health policies and strategies. Because the association between subjectively assessed low health status and low life satisfaction seems to be universal, public health policy should primarily focus on supporting people with the worst levels of perceived physical health. Further cross-national research should be performed to examine whether the strong association between physical health and life satisfaction is related to the university student population, either in early or throughout adulthood, or the coronavirus pandemic.

This study has several practical implications. To prevent a decrease in life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, universities should implement various methods to improve technical skills to cope with new technologies, and psychological skills should be taught to allow students to cope with stress effectively. Gori et al. [ 90 ] recently showed that a coping with stress, positive attitude, and mature defenses mediate the relationship between perceived stress and life satisfaction. Recent findings from a study in Turkey indicate that life satisfaction could significantly predict resilience [ 91 ]. Tomaszek et al. [ 63 ] suggested that post-coronavirus therapy should be focused on fundamental existential questions and the meaning of life, since the severity of traumatic sensations may affect the relationship between life satisfaction and post-traumatic growth. An internet-delivered physical activity intervention could be implemented, as shown by an example from Slovenia [ 92 , 93 ], together with psychological counseling for those university students who suffer from anxiety and depression [ 94 , 95 ]. Lesser and Nienhuis [ 49 ] postulated that health promotion should be targeted at physically inactive people to improve their well-being. University students should be encouraged to exercise at home with limited space to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle during periods of prolonged quarantine [ 38 , 51 ]. The present study suggests that PA should be recommended, particularly among university students and particularly among those from Turkey, Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Israel, as it is a relatively inexpensive means of increasing the ability of body's immune system to fight the coronavirus.

Availability of data and materials

This study is a part of an international research project: Well-being of undergraduates during the COVID-19 pandemic: International study [ 69 ], registered at the Center for Open Science (OSF) https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/Q5F4E . The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2

coronavirus disease

physical activity

Institutional Review Board

American Psychological Association

Center for Open Science

Satisfaction with Life Scale

perceived negative impact of coronavirus on students' well-being

Generalized Self-Reported Health

12-Item Short Form Health Survey

confidence interval

analysis of variance

Tukey's honest significant difference

adjusted odds ratio

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Conceptualization, A.M.R., D.O., C.K.; data curation, D.O.; formal analysis, A.M.R., investigation, A.M.R., D.O., C.K., M.J., A.S., M.H., A.A., J.B., R.B., E.V.K., I.P., I.B., Z.K.,Y.A.C.-A, I.A.,O.C.; methodology, A.M.R.; project administration, D.O.; resources A.M.R., D.O., C.K., M.J., A.S., M.H., A.A., J.B., R.B., E.V.K., I.P., I.B., Z.K., Y.A.C.-A, I.A.,O.C.; supervision, D.O., A.M.R.; visualization, A.M.R.; writing—original draft preparation, A.M.R.; writing—review and editing, A.M.R., D.O., C.K., M.J., A.S., M.H., A.A., J.B., R.B., E.V.K., I.P., I.B., Z.K., Y.A.C.-A, I.A.,O.C.

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Rogowska, A.M., Ochnik, D., Kuśnierz, C. et al. Satisfaction with life among university students from nine countries: Cross-national study during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Public Health 21 , 2262 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-12288-1

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Essay on Student Life

Student life, a phase that encompasses the essence of youth, is a period of transformation, self-discovery, and boundless opportunities. It’s a time when a student undergoes changes and faces challenges in academics, friendships, and personal growth. In this blog, we’ll explore the multifaceted aspects of student life and provide sample essays in various word counts, giving a glimpse into this remarkable journey.

Also Read: Essay on Importance of Education

Sample Essay on Student Life in 100 Words

A student’s life is an exciting ride of learning, self-discovery and experiences. It’s a blend of early-morning classes, late-night study sessions, and the thrill of making lifelong friends. This phase teaches a student to balance academics with extracurricular activities, fostering their growth as individuals. Each day is a new adventure, a chance to learn, explore, and evolve. The memories one creates during these years shape the future, moulding one into the person one aspires to become. It’s a time when a student embraces the joy of acquiring knowledge and savour the taste of independence. With the right balance of study and leisure, it becomes a cherished chapter in a student’s life.

Also Read:  Essay on Life 

Sample Essay on Student Life in 200 Words

Student life is a period of transformation and exploration. It’s a period where one transitions from childhood to adulthood, navigating through the complexities of education and personal growth. In the midst of academic challenges, students often form close bonds with peers. These friendships provide crucial support in times of stress and celebration during moments of success. However, it’s not all smooth, the pressure to excel, manage finances, and make important life decisions can be overwhelming.

The student life is a pivotal period of self-discovery and personal development. It’s not just about textbooks and lectures; it’s a journey of exploration and experimentation. From joining clubs and societies to engaging in community service, these experiences help in uncovering a student’s passions and talents. It’s a time when they build bonds that often last a lifetime, creating a support system that stands the test of time.

Sample Essay on Student Life in 350 Words

Student life, often referred to as the best years of one’s life, it’s a bundle of experiences that shape the future. It’s a time when one embarks on a journey of academic pursuits, self-discovery, and personal growth. These years are marked by hard work studying, social interactions, and a quest for independence.

The classroom becomes a second home. But student life is not just about academics; it’s a holistic experience. Friendship bonds provide the emotional support needed. The pressure to excel academically can be suffocating at times. Balancing coursework, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs is a delicate juggling act. Financial constraints can add to the stress, making students contemplate their choices and priorities.

Despite these obstacles, student life offers a unique opportunity for self-discovery. It’s a time when young minds explore their passions, talents, and interests. It’s a period when taking risks is encouraged, and opportunities are abundant. Whether through involvement in clubs, sports, or artistic pursuits, it’s during this phase that one lays the foundation for future careers and aspirations.

Beyond academics and friendships, student life encourages us to explore the world. From educational trips to international exchanges, these experiences broaden horizons and expose one to different cultures and ideas. It’s a time when one learns to navigate the complexities of the real world. These experiences broaden one’s mindset, help in building a global outlook and enhance adaptability.

In conclusion, student life is a remarkable chapter in the books of everyone’s lives. It is a rollercoaster of experiences that challenge us, shape us, and ultimately prepare us for the world beyond. It is a time of intellectual growth, enduring friendships, and personal discovery. Despite the trials and tribulations, it is a journey worth embracing, for it is during these years that lays the groundwork for our future endeavours and aspirations,

Also Read:   Essay on Time Management for Students

Student life is a phase that bridges the gap between adolescence and adulthood. It’s a transformative journey filled with academic pursuits, personal growth, enduring friendships, and the resilience to overcome challenges. This period of life is not merely a stepping stone, it’s a phase where one lays the foundation for the future, equipping oneself with knowledge, skills, and experiences that will serve us throughout our lives

Student life is filled with growth, aspirations, self-discovery, and boundless opportunities. The student life helps an individual have an understanding of moral values and build a quality life.

The most important part of a student’s life is the management of Time. A student’s life demands discipline and routine and that will require the skill of management of time.

A student’s life is a golden life because it is a phase where a student embraces the victories, savours the taste of failure and understand the working of the world as a whole.

We hope this blog gives you an idea about how to write and present an essay on student life. For more amazing daily reads that will help you build your IQ and improve your reading and writing skills, study tuned with Leverage Edu . 

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Three years ago, I wrote one of my first blogs about my academic and personal journey reconnecting with my Ecuadorian heritage and indigenous community. This past winter break, I was lucky to continue this experience of homecoming and travel to Saraguro, Ecuador with the help of a research grant from the Harvard University Native American Program . Both inside and outside the classroom, my journey at Harvard is marked by crucial moments of self-reflection that deepened my understanding of where I come from, where I am, and where I’m going.

This trip and my senior thesis research project are part of my ongoing commitment to indigenous voices, knowledge, and futures. Students concentrating in Social Studies must write a senior thesis in order to graduate. Each thesis is unique as social studies is a choose-your-own-adventure interdisciplinary field in which students craft a “focus field” of 4-6 classes in different disciplines. My focus field, Indigenous Futurisms in the Context of Late Capitalism: Kichwa regenerations of indigeneity, is an attempt to combine my interests in Latin American studies, Indigenous studies, and critical theory.

At times, it can be difficult to discuss issues in the classroom, from a position of privilege, when our realities in the Global South demand immediate action and advocacy. I bring so much of my lived experience and community-based knowledge into the classroom to give voice to the seemingly abstract ideas we engage with. For centuries, indigenous voices have been silenced in academic realms for not fitting into the standards of what counts or doesn’t count as knowledge. Research is a word that names a colonial wound; for many communities, it has meant the harmful extraction of knowledge for an outsider’s benefit (getting a PhD, writing a book, etc.). With this in mind, I see my thesis as an intentional opportunity to re-write, retell, and regenerate indigenous history for indigenous readers and futures.

My recent trip to Ecuador was the first step in accomplishing such a task, as I dedicated my time to building relationships with networks of indigenous activists in my home community anf other Kichwa communities. My thesis advisor and founder of Harvard’s Quechua Initiative on Global Indigeneity, Professor Américo Mendoza-Mori, helped me build an itinerary by connecting me with Kichwa youth who I could learn with.

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Trying out my ability to soplar

Tayta Masaquiza had many hand-made Andean flutes, known as zampollas, which I got to check out. Soledad Chango

I met Kichwa Salasaka violinist and language activist, Soledad Chango. Soledad welcomed me to Salasaka by teaching me about her community’s history and contemporary situation, from the perspective of a young person engaged in cultural reclamation through the Kichwa language. We visited two elders in her community, Tayta Manuel Masaquiza and Tayta Rulfino Masaquiza, who are respected points of reference as knowledge keepers of Kichwa Salasaka history, to engage in intergenerational discourse regarding indigeneity, youth, and the importance of cultural continuity. These conversations were incredibly rich and profound, as transmission of knowledge is how youth can carry forward the lessons learned from hundreds of years of indigenous resistance. As someone who grew up in diaspora, I didn’t have access to learning opportunities with elders in my community (other than my grandparents) in my childhood. I am forever grateful for Soledad’s curiosity and open-heartedness that guided our knowledge exchanges throughout my visit. She will be studying at MIT in the fall, so we will be able to continue this friendship soon!

Author spinning wool

Hilando en Salasaka

When I arrived at Tayta Masaquiza's house, I was asked to hilar (spin wool) and show my knowledge of traditions. Soledad Chango

Apart from my visits to Salasaka and Otavalo, I also spent time in the capital, Quito, where I was invited to meet with the leaders of La Universidad Intercultural de las Nacionalidades y Pueblos Indígenas Amawtay Wasi (Kichwa for House of Wisdom), which is a higher education institution run by indigenous peoples and for indigenous peoples. In a class during my sophomore year called Critical Latinx Indigeneities, we read about the decommissioning and closure of the University in 2013 due to failing to meet Western standards. In 2021, the University was re-established as a public Indigenous university and is currently beginning to build its campus in Quito while holding regular virtual programming.

young woman wearing her indigenous clothing

Portrait in Quito

Every trip, I get more comfortable wearing my indigenous clothing with pride in all places, like the capital. Amy Chalan

This university is not only the achievement of years of struggle for equality in education for indigenous peoples, but also a fundamental step in decolonizing higher education by centering indigenous epistemologies and pedagogies. It was an honor to meet with Hatari Sarango, fellow Kichwa Saraguro brother and indigenous rights activist, Pablo Pomboza, Rector of the University, and Ángel Ramírez, Vice Rector of Research. I was able to brainstorm about my thesis project with mentors who understand the fundamental goal of my thesis: to engage in knowledge production by us, for us.

Four people posing for a group photo

Visiting la Universidad Amawtay Wasi

It was an honor to meet and share my project with indigenous intellectuals at Ecuador's public intercultural university. Amy Chalan

Last but not least, in Quito I also had the incredibly opportunity to meet with Kichwa Saraguro intellectual and renowned indigenous rights activist, Tayta Luis Macas. He is a political leader whose work with indigenous organizations, government, and universities has significantly impacted the life of contemporary indigenous peoples in Ecuador. Tayta Macas is one of my role models and intellectual idols (I even wrote a paper about his writing in my Social Studies junior tutorial), so getting to share my activism and academic work with him was profoundly meaningful.

Tayta Macas is a Saraguro native and he shared memories of his youth that I will honor in my heart forever. He recalled anecdotes about two of my great-great-grandfathers, Tayta Ancelmo Chalán and Tayta Joaquin Vacacela, who are held dearly in our collective memory as fundamental community leaders who protected communal lands and advocated for the rights of Saraguros. Not everyone holds intimate details about how they were in life, as our tradition involves oral history and there is no publicly available written story about Saraguro’s first indigenous leaders. The memories Tayta Macas gifted me touched my spirit with an abundance of gratitude and serenity.

I owe my life to my great-great-grandfathers’ dedication to our community and I honor this ancestral legacy everyday with my passion for knowledge and justice. My mission began many generations ago and will go on for generations to come. To know this is to recognize the interconnectedness of all life and to commit myself wholeheartedly to the protection of all life.

Special thanks to everyone who made this trip possible! I hope to continue this journey over the summer as I continue to write my thesis.

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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See an example

thesis about student life

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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McCombes, S. (2023, August 15). How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/thesis-statement/

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Student Life Essay

If there is anything that we would miss later, it would be our good old student life. One cannot deny that student life was one of the most glorious periods. Usually, student life is filled with studies, homework and exams. But even then, it is to this phase that we long to return to. Ever wondered why? We get lots of knowledge and information about different things in the world as well as grow physically, emotionally and socially.

Each of us remembers our student life differently. This student life essay in English will be useful for your kids to understand the importance of student life. It will help them to identify what they like the most about the school through this essay on student life.

Childhood Memories Essay

Experience of Student Life

I recall the day when I wore my uniform and took my new bag and bottle to my first day at school. A few days earlier, there was great excitement in the family as we bought books and a lunchbox to carry to my school. All these things were new to me, and unaware of what the life of a student would be like, I, too, joined the excitement of my parents.

After I began going to school for a few days, I realised that student life is packed with many fun activities and learning, which I enjoyed thoroughly. It was during my student life that I made many friends in class. I was always happy to share my snacks with them, and I got to taste various types of delicacies and savouries as they gave a portion of their food to me. Besides, we played hide and seek during the intervals, coloured the books and learned the alphabet together.

I also liked going for one-day picnics and tours, and this part of student life was where I got to have maximum joy. While my student life was packed with endless activities and games, there were also stages of learning where I was able to grow as a person. I understood important virtues like discipline, punctuality, hard work and integrity as I studied and tried to score good marks. It is our student life that shapes our dreams where we can plan and secure our future.

I have often heard my parents saying that they miss their student life, and I guess it is because it is the only time when we can be innocent and carefree and take life as it is. I know that I wouldn’t get this student life, nor will I be able to go back to being a student once I become independent and start living my life.

Moral of the Essay

Student life is a crucial aspect as it determines how we would grow up as individuals. This essay on student life will help you understand its many benefits. We must also consider ourselves lucky for acquiring education as many do not know what education or student life is. So, recount the incidents of your student life through this student life essay in English.

You can find more essays similar to the student life essay on BYJU’S website. Also, explore other kid-friendly learning resources on our website.

What do you mean by student life?

If you are a student who either goes to a school or college, then the daily activities you indulge in as a student constitutes your student life. You will be spending time with your teachers and friends by learning and playing.

Is student life important?

We cannot overlook the importance of student life as it is a period of new learning. We begin to understand many things, and if we have a balanced student life, then we will be able to achieve success in life.

Is it difficult to lead a student life?

Student life is a pleasant experience where we gather knowledge and make friends. But it is also a phase where we face reality and experience difficult situations. Nevertheless, student life makes you braver, responsible and emotionally well-receptive.

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Essay on Life for Students and Children

500+ words essay on life.

First of all, Life refers to an aspect of existence. This aspect processes acts, evaluates, and evolves through growth. Life is what distinguishes humans from inorganic matter. Some individuals certainly enjoy free will in Life. Others like slaves and prisoners don’t have that privilege. However, Life isn’t just about living independently in society. It is certainly much more than that. Hence, quality of Life carries huge importance. Above all, the ultimate purpose should be to live a meaningful life. A meaningful life is one which allows us to connect with our deeper self.

essay on life

Why is Life Important?

One important aspect of Life is that it keeps going forward. This means nothing is permanent. Hence, there should be a reason to stay in dejection. A happy occasion will come to pass, just like a sad one. Above all, one must be optimistic no matter how bad things get. This is because nothing will stay forever. Every situation, occasion, and event shall pass. This is certainly a beauty of Life.

Many people become very sad because of failures . However, these people certainly fail to see the bright side. The bright side is that there is a reason for every failure. Therefore, every failure teaches us a valuable lesson. This means every failure builds experience. This experience is what improves the skills and efficiency of humans.

Probably a huge number of individuals complain that Life is a pain. Many people believe that the word pain is a synonym for Life. However, it is pain that makes us stronger. Pain is certainly an excellent way of increasing mental resilience. Above all, pain enriches the mind.

The uncertainty of death is what makes life so precious. No one knows the hour of one’s death. This probably is the most important reason to live life to the fullest. Staying in depression or being a workaholic is an utter wastage of Life. One must certainly enjoy the beautiful blessings of Life before death overtakes.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

How to Improve Quality of Life?

Most noteworthy, optimism is the ultimate way of enriching life. Optimism increases job performance, self-confidence, creativity, and skills. An optimistic person certainly can overcome huge hurdles.

Meditation is another useful way of improving Life quality. Meditation probably allows a person to dwell upon his past. This way one can avoid past mistakes. It also gives peace of mind to an individual. Furthermore, meditation reduces stress and tension.

Pursuing a hobby is a perfect way to bring meaning to life. Without a passion or interest, an individual’s life would probably be dull. Following a hobby certainly brings new energy to life. It provides new hope to live and experience Life.

In conclusion, Life is not something that one should take for granted. It’s certainly a shame to see individuals waste away their lives. We should be very thankful for experiencing our lives. Above all, everyone should try to make their life more meaningful.

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