Navigating the New “Normal”…
Here, in Paris, uni is going ahead at full steam. Classes are in person, lectures are in person – everything’s in person and there’s no “I don’t feel like taking the metro when it’s so busy” Corona-friendly alternative.
And it’s lively and fun, with the exception that masks have to be worn for the entirety of the day. And, when there’s one cough or sneeze in the lecture theatre, you can feel everyone uncomfortably shuffle in their seats.
As much as we may try to pretend that the risks of the pandemic and the associated fears, anxiety and Corona-induced depression handily disappeared with summer, I think we all know – and the news is constantly reminding us – that’s not entirely true.
So how do we navigate this new normal, when the situation no-doubt still hangs heavily on our minds? We must search for a balance between being kind and forgiving to ourselves, whilst also acknowledging that the world is going ahead, and despite the adversity, we must try and keep up.
Make a Safe Space for Yourself
As we saw in March: we better get comfortable. With social distancing, mask wearing and restrictive opening times in cafes and libraries, it’s really important that we all have a corner that we can call our own – where we don’t have to put ourselves at risk or worry about the outside world. Invest in a good desk and desk chair in your room and make it somewhere that you can learn to love to work. A lot is going on and a lot is still changing, so having a constant in your life where you can focus and work towards your goals will help maintain your productivity.
Reinvent your Social Calendar
Whether it’s Smack Tuesday, Pop! Wednesday or heading to Neon on a Friday night – likelihood is most of us had one (or two!) weekly events that were practically blocked out on our calendar for the rest of term. Seminars got moved around them and they were what we looked forward to at the end of longer and harder days at uni. Now, I know things aren’t going to be exactly the same for a while, but find resolve in a Corona-friendly alternative – and make a weekly event of it. Try a Friday homecooked meal with your flatmates followed by a board game night and alternate who make starters, mains and deserts. Or, a Saturday movie night – full with popcorn and pick-and-mix or Thursday night cocktails with a handful of your best friends! It’s so important to have something to look forward to and to not let weeks slip by without seeing the people who matter to you.
Hang on to Structure
I think we’ve all been waiting for the day that every lecture is lecture captured… however, it’s a slippery slope! 9ams can be a chore, but we all know that they do us good. And, I know that this may be a hard one to convince you to put into action, but try, try, try to ‘attend’ your lectures when they’re meant to be!
If you really don’t fancy waking up for your 9am starts don’t force yourself – now you have the luxury not to. But, don’t let your unwatched 9am lectures pile up – be honest with yourself, and reschedule them in your calendar to a different time of the day – do this advance, and be there for them!
Acknowledge and Discuss your Fears
It’s okay to still be worried, scared and uncomfortable in this new normal. But, whatever you’re feeling, one (or all!) of your housemates are probably feeling a similar way. Reach out to your friends, call loved ones you’re missing and don’t try to struggle through alone – you’re not alone. Be open about your situation with your personal tutor – whether you’re in an at-risk group, have your mind on a relative who you can’t be with right now or are just missing your pre-Corona social life – it’s okay not to be okay. Even if it feels small or even pointless because you think everyone is in the same position, your tutor’s there to listen to you and look out for you – it’s always worth talking about how you feel.
Don’t forget to treat yourself!
With less frequent trips to campus, curfews on bars and non-existent clubs, we might find ourselves spending less money this term. Whilst, this may be a positive from your bank account’s point of view and I am a great advocate for saving, we shouldn’t have to cut out the things we enjoy spending money on just because things have changed. Swap circling for a happy hour and lunch on campus for an occasional takeaway with your house mates. This year we may have to be a little bit more creative about it, and things may have been taken away from us, but we can still find ways to treat ourselves and have our fun!
I hope everyone is safe and well and looking forward to getting back to University! Be kind to yourselves, take it easy and although this term may look a little bit different, it can still be enjoyable and productive. If you have any questions or your own tips, drop them in the comments!