9 December 2020
If you told me this time last year, I was going to be studying my final year of university during a global pandemic, I wouldn’t have believed you. However, here we all are carrying on with our lives...
Honestly, I was nervous to go back to university. I opted for blended learning, a combination of online and face-to-face teaching. How would I cope with keeping up with online lectures, writing assignments and the thought of even attempting to plan a dissertation?
The first few weeks were an interesting adjustment. I’ve learnt a lot about self-discipline and learning to get on with my work without having someone tell me to do it in a classroom environment. Now that I have a routine fitting around my part-time job and studies, I have one day at University a week and one day in the week to catch up on my work, as well as free time at the weekends.
Now I'm seven weeks in. Working from home in my pyjamas, weekly meetings with my dissertation supervisor that I wouldn’t have time for normally, and being able to catch up with work in the evenings if I need to? It's great. The flexibility that blended learning has offered me is what I love the most, particularly with the uncertainty that COVID has brought to everyday life. For example, I had a COVID scare a few weeks ago and had to get tested while I was meant to be watching an online lecture. However, because it was pre-recorded and uploaded to the Canvas platform, I wasn’t stressed as I knew I could catch up.
Following my notification from the Track and Trace app that told me I had to self-isolate for nine days, I was surprised at how easy it was for the University to re-coordinate my learning style. After filling in a brief form online to notify the University of my situation, within 12 hours I was contacted to see how I was feeling. Collin, who I spoke to, was very calm and kind. He asked if I had access to food shopping and was comfortable at home. Fortunately I’d tested negative and have family who can go to the shops for me, but I was taken back by how much support there was for students, from food shopping deliveries to income subsidies, and most importantly mental health support. I was able to switch to online learning for the time that I had to isolate for, so as to not fall behind, and then go back to blended learning.
Overall, despite my worries regarding this year, I’m really pleased with how well it's going so far. Apart from the obvious worries of third year, the University has implemented a range of strategies to keep life running as smoothly as possible. You just have to make the most of the opportunities given to you!