My name is Caitlin Gorman and I’m a third year BA Hons Performing Arts student at Leeds Beckett University.
By September 2020, I had already studied for two years and was extremely settled at Leeds Beckett, and as someone who lives and breathes university, I had feelings of apprehension about the the inevitable changes to my third year of study due to the pandemic. It was a scary prospect.
I was extremely worried about the challenges this would present, especially with it coinciding with my third and final year of education within the university. However the level of face-to-face teaching that has been offered whilst continuously ensuring government guidelines have been followed, as well as support from the university, has allowed for my nerves to settle.
During this time, my peers, tutors, and the university itself could not have been more helpful. Although a new situation for each individual who has encountered the pandemic, the way everyone at the university has dealt with it has shown new strengths. When there have been hard times this year my lecturers have been there, and when new challenges have presented, we’ve faced it together. Although a troubling time for the whole world, Leeds Beckett has allowed for ease throughout it, which has allowed me to feel supported beyond ways I could have imagined. They have gone above and beyond.
In terms of our learning, we have all encountered much more online teaching when appropriate. As mentioned earlier, we as a school have been lucky enough to encounter face to face teaching still. However, when no face to face is needed – in terms of lectures or tutorials, we have been in zoom land! Although sometimes a challenge to work remotely, there have definitely been some positives. As a performance artist, being forced to work in a way that removed the obvious live element has allowed for new ways to expand my practice. Virtual art is something I had not explored before, and this is something we are now being encouraged to explore. Just another reason why our lecturers have been fantastic, as they have even embraced the opportunity to make work over zoom!
Each one of our lecturers is embracing the change, whether that be encouraging us to explore making work digitally, or hopping onto a zoom tutorial when I have been struggling with new changes that have come about during the pandemic, or even ensuring that if someone cannot be within a face to face environment, they are as well equipped to learn as the ones who are within the studio. As human beings, each lecturer has their things to deal with outside of the institution, and with Covid19 just like their students, there are of course things that come up, however not once during this time has a lecturer not made us students their priority.
My advice for anyone else learning from home and adapting to a changing situation would be to ensure you have a space in which is comfortable buts work appropriately. I have spent many hours writing essays in my bedroom and it can prevent your brain from switching into work mode. If learning from home is how learning has to be done (if possible) find a space which is for work rather than merging with a space which is for your downtime! My other piece of advice would be to try and embrace the change, it can be terrifying to know things are adapting and maybe not within your control, however just understand that sometimes good things become apparent through change. Remaining stagnant will only allow you to stay within your boundaries, so try and embrace whatever is thrown your way, knowing that - although scary, you can challenge yourself and reach higher limits!
I would also like to point out that it's ok to struggle and to not be too hard on yourself. Not one human being is finding the challenges of COVID-19 easy, so its ok to take it easy on yourself, just remember to reach out and speak up, someone will want to hear it!