University life during COVID-19
What is university life like during a pandemic? Has it been harder to learn during the pandemic? What has your social life been like during the lockdowns? These are probably some of the questions flying around in your head if you are a prospective student thinking of coming to Warwick or generally thinking of university in September. I have written this blog post to reassure you that it is actually not all bad news when studying at university during a pandemic.
For me personally, I was incredibly lucky to have a blended approach to learning this year as my course is small enough to have seminars in person and lectures online in an asynchronous format which means lectures are pre-recorded and uploaded beforehand. However, most of my friends on bigger courses had synchronous online seminars and asynchronous lectures, as class sizes are too big to allow for seminars to be split into 15 people at a time, also needing to accommodate every class a room. I personally felt very safe in an in-person seminar, where everyone was wearing a mask and we all sanitised our tables and chairs down with wipes before and after each seminar, where we were all sat apart on one desk each. As well as feeling very safe, a benefit to online learning are the asynchronous lectures. In a pre-COVID two-hour lecture, if I missed something the lecturer had said or if I had missed a point on their PowerPoint, I was then unable to understand a section of the lecture which meant I had missing notes. However, with asynchronous lectures, I am able to pause the video, rewind and speed it up which allows me to watch lectures at my own pace as well as having them saved online which is very useful if I ever need to go back and make extra notes. Online learning is not all bad and even though at first, I was apprehensive about it, being a term into this new way of learning, I have been able to see the positives and it has given me a different outlook on the way I learn which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
I will also note here, how incredibly lucky I was in term one, before the national lockdown, that I had in-person seminars which meant I had some human interaction from a safe distance with everyone abiding by the social distancing rules and being able to see people and a lecturer in person. I very often think and cherish how we take for granted seeing people in person and how important it is to be in the presence of others, which I think will be something we all take away from this pandemic and never take for granted again.
Social life and a pandemic are not a match made in heaven. However, again, I want to reassure you that from first-hand experience of being president of a society and being a part of other societies last term, societies are going above and beyond to help students as much as possible through online socials, to give students a break away from work and the world around us. My society has put on online quizzes, movie nights on Netflix Party, games nights playing Among Us for hours on end, virtual study groups to motivate us all when we needed it and informal virtual coffee chats for students to ask exec any questions from housing to cooking. Societies and social life are a huge part of university life and it can be frustrating when your university experience is not the same as you knew it, however, I hope this has reassured you that actually socials still can go ahead in an online format, and from my experience they have been incredibly successful, especially for first year students, which has meant they have made friends with their year and years above.
I hope this has given all prospective students hope and encouragement that studying at university during a pandemic can of course be daunting and frustrating but I have personally been able to see the positives of learning online and a virtual social life which has meant the same amount of socials a week but just virtually which is a luxury as you can keep your pyjamas on!