Studying during a global pandemic
Second year BA (Hons) Media Communication Cultures student, Mae Harrison, shares with us what it's like studying during a global pandemic and what affect this had on her experience.
I am currently a second year BA (Hons) Media Communication Cultures student at Leeds Beckett University. Fortunately, I managed to study almost a full academic year in person from September 2019 to March 2020. When the government decision was made that one Monday evening to close universities for three weeks, ironically, I was relieved. I lived on the 21st floor of a student accommodation building in the city centre with no close friends nearby. If anything, I was glad to be leaving. Little did I know, or anyone for that matter, I was packing two small bags for four long months at home.
Moving from face-to-face learning to virtual was a transition none of us had prepared for. I believe the university took the correct steps and procedures following government guidance to ensure all staff and students were safe. With the anxiety I initially faced adjusting my small life to protect the well-being of family, friends and strangers around me, I felt slightly unprepared continuing my studies and starting assignments without any physical teaching. However, the safety net offered on my course allowed me to have some flexibility when my work was graded. I am grateful for the fact module assessed group projects were adapted to still go ahead virtually and I was still able to work closely with professional in the industry for the Media Professionals module, which meant I was not missing out on these amazing opportunities. I faced many restless nights following the closure of universities and as more and more weeks were added to the lockdown, the reassurance I received from staff during my online lectures began to put my mind at ease.
Leeds Beckett continued to reach out to students struggling mentally via email. Support was offered further during the first semester of my second year, such as online mental health workshops. I believed arranging programs like this are super beneficial for students struggling during this isolated time. I also got the chance to attend a few weeks of small group learning once a week in the university before the announcement of the second lockdown in November, which I found to be invaluable to feel some sense of normality again.
Remote learning helped me reflect what does and does not work for me academically, such as realising I study best in the morning and perfecting my essay planning in a way that suits the way I learn. The silver lining of what may have been the hardest academic year yet, was having the time to figure out what studying techniques could shape me into becoming a more effective student. My situation is nothing special, however remembering I still have the opportunity to continue studying during a pandemic is something I am thankful for that has remained constant in such unpredictable times. To anyone wishing to seek support from the university, my advice would be to make use of your academic advisors, as more than ever, they are willing to listen and guide students in the right direction for academic and welfare support.