After seven months not on campus, I definitely had mixed emotions about returning to university and getting back to studying medicine. Here's how things went.
On one hand, I missed my friends and the routine but on the other hand I was apprehensive about how the course would be delivered. On top of that, I had been binge-watching Netflix for several months straight and I was concerned about how my brain would cope with being thrown back in at the deep end.
Monday was our designated campus day, so we started the morning with dissection. We revised some anatomical structures from last year which I found really useful and it helped ease me in. In the afternoon we had clinical skills at the medical school again where we learnt how to take a history from a patient presenting with a mental health complaint.
It was so lovely to see everyone after so many months, but it was hard not being able to interact normally after the summer (hugging, sharing our stories from holidays, etc). That being said, I was grateful for the human interaction all the same. If I’ve learnt anything from COVID it would be that no matter how far technology progresses, there will always be a need for human contact.
The rest of the week was delivered online through a mixture of pre-recorded and live sessions. Initially, I enjoyed the flexibility of working from home. I could complete my lectures in my pyjamas, and I was always two steps away from the snack cupboard. However, this quickly wore off. Pre-COVID, my little flat was my happy place and I never really did any uni work there. I normally worked in the library to ensure that I could switch off properly when I got home. In our first week back, I felt like the lines were being blurred too much. I was even doing some lectures in bed and I felt like this was affecting my sleep.
As the week progressed, I learnt to do small things to create the barrier between home and university again. I created a new morning routine where I got up and dressed and stopped eating my breakfast during my first lecture. I created a designated work area at the dining room table, and I resisted the urge to do chores whilst a lecture was on. I also tried to go on at least one walk a day to stretch my legs and see a view other than the walls of my flat.
This period of adjustment has been tricky for so many groups of people including students. I think it’s so important to intrinsically assess how you work best and what you can do, despite the current situation, to improve your work environment whilst still looking after your mental wellbeing. It’s a learning curve for everyone involved but I have found really useful information online from other students who are in the same boat.
Remember to keep up to date with the Government guidelines and always reach out for help if you are struggling!
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