Term 2: How to deal with the uncertainty
This question has no easy answer. But I’m going to try my best and offer some tricks that might help.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the UK is currently in its third – and second national – lockdown. This means that at least until mid-February, we all have to stay home as much as possible.
For most Warwick students, this means (unless you were already in Coventry, Leamington, or any of the surrounding areas for the Christmas break) starting Term 2 with classes that are completely online, and restricted access to the library (more on that later).
First of all, I want to say that I sympathise deeply with anyone struggling with this new arrangement – particularly freshers. Uni is supposed to be a time to discover yourself and for most, it’s your first time away from home. Engaging in academic activity, as well as the wider uni culture, is extremely difficult. So what can you do?
Figure out breaks
Breaks are important when it comes to work anyway, but let me put it into perspective for you. You’re having all your classes online, you’re doing all your research online, and then, if you’re anything like me, you’re relaxing by means of Netflix or Prime Video or anything like that. That’s a lot of screen time. Taking a break from your screen and (preferably) going outside, be that in your garden or going for a walk can be a lifesaver, and can stop you from feeling trapped within four walls.
Mix it up
Don’t work in the same room! I’m currently moving between the study, the desk in my bedroom, and my living room, to try and get rid of that monotony. Make it as spontaneous as possible – don’t plan to switch rooms, because then you can give yourself something new.
For me, being away from uni means being away from my friends – I’ve grown distant from people I was friends with back home, so I don’t really have a social life here. It can get very lonely, so I throw self-care into the mix so I can make myself feel better. Getting dressed up for classes – doing my hair, trimming my beard, wearing nice clothes – can feel a lot better than the same tracksuits. Calling a friend once a week, having nice meals, dropping work for a few hours and spending time with my family – all of these can work to counteract the isolation you might be feeling.
These are my three tips for coping with the start of uni and a national lockdown – and I hope they can be of some use. However, there are some contingencies that have been put into place by the university, as well as existing services, that can also be worth thinking about:
Wellbeing Services: This goes without saying. Having used Wellbeing myself, I can definitely say it helped. If you don’t feel comfortable with that though, you can always speak to your Personal Tutor first – they are there for pastoral care. Wellbeing services can be accessed at https://warwick.ac.uk/services/wss/.
Mitigating circumstances: Warwick students may already know that there has been an extension on deadlines by one week. However, there has been a change to mitigating circumstances to accommodate the difficulties of coronavirus – evidence does not need to be submitted as long as you explain why you couldn’t get it.
Library: As someone doing a final-year dissertation, I panicked when I realised I wouldn’t be able to get back to Warwick. Doing a diss without the library seems impossible, but you can apply for mitigation if need be (discuss with your supervisor). However, the Library has introduced a postal loan service (https://warwick.ac.uk/services/library/using/practical-information/postal-loans/) that should be able to help with this – if you can’t get a book even after using the system, speak to your supervisor.
I hope these are all things that have helped relieve some anxiety over the strange Term 2 we’re all having. Remember, if you have any issues, the best people to contact are Wellbeing or your Personal Tutor.