Clara Sablitzky and friends share their tips for getting through the new semester.
Here we are again. We’ve done this before, online uni, lockdown, so why does it just feel...worse? Maybe you’ve figured out what works for you, maybe you haven't and you need a little advice to get over the mid-semester hump, through exams and into summer by which time, hopefully (please, universe), we’ll be free!
Back in November, I gave you 5 things to do every day to get you through the day - start there if you haven’t read that already! - so this time I’ve asked my friends how they’re feeling this lockdown and for their tips and advice, so we can all get through this together.
“Do at least one thing every day that makes you happy” - Corrina
Staying sane whilst doing uni at home is by no means an art form I have perfected. There are days I feel pretty hopeless and isolated. Everyone in my family works full time, so I’ve ended up spending most of my days by myself. But that isn’t to say I’ve not found ways to survive and even thrive during this bizarre - dare I say - opportunity. The hardest thing for me these past few months has been the constant uncertainty, as I’m not the most spontaneous and I like firm plans. To combat this, since being home, I have made a consistent effort to timetable my days. I colour code each job for the day, then tick them off. In essence: give yourself a to-do list and remind yourself how good it feels to get stuff done. That takes care of the academic part of my day, but that’s only a small part of who I am. To maintain motivation and interest in what you’re studying, the best piece of advice I could give would be to step away from the computer and uni work at a certain time each day. To reduce the burnout, make the conscious effort to do at least one thing every day that makes you happy- and schedule it if you need to. I would recommend some sort of creative outlet; today I’ll be baking an apple cake, but yesterday I attempted some embroidery. Lockdown has allowed me to pick up old hobbies I’ve not had the time for during regular uni. If you’re stumped creatively, I’d advise doing something nice for someone else. This could be as easy as making a round of teas for everyone or taking your dog for a walk at lunch. I just bought a birdfeeder I can attach to my window so I can watch the birds while I’m working. Finding joy in your day will help the world seem less bleak and remind you that this will be over one day.
The best way to survive online uni? Remember who you are outside of it.
“Find a random hobby to fill your time” - Zoë
I’m at home with my family in this lockdown, like I’m sure a lot of people are, and I’m really not used to doing uni work at home, so it’s been a bit weird.
I think my two main tips are:
1. Mini morning/evening routines so that at least each day has a coherent start and end. I’m not talking full-on YouTuber style routines like “I wake up at 4 am, drink 20 gallons of water, run a marathon and then eat 4 avocados” I just mean; wake-up at a decent time, check my phone for 10 minutes, have a shower and change to a different set of pyjamas, day-pyjamas if you will. Just the process of going through those easy tasks means you’ve at least started the day.
2. Find a random hobby to fill your time. We can’t see friends or go anywhere and, being at home, I no longer have to run to shops every day, as I would at uni because I refuse to do a big weekly food shop when the fridge is empty. I suddenly seem to have a lot of hours to fill in the day. Once I’ve watched a few lectures and done a reading - I would say ‘or two’ but who is doing more than one philosophy reading in a day? no thanks - I’m usually about done for the day, I’m not going to push myself to read every extra resource or write pages and pages of notes. Like… we’re in a pandemic, give yourself a break, once I’ve done the required tasks, I’m done you know.
Hobby ideas you are welcome to copy:
Old lady crafts; my personal crafts of choice have included rug-making, jewellery making and now crochet...
Bingeing an entire TV show that has a horrific number of episodes. Currently, for me, this is Criminal Minds but there are many options to go for.
You could take up an actual exercise like running… ew, but why do that when you could get your daily movement in by having a mini rave in your room to some 00s anthems or Russian Hardbass. Warning in advance, these are two very different genres so check which one you’re feeling before you start! I fear mixing them could lead to a potential brain injury.
“Try to remain hopeful for what is to come” - Natalie
Unlike the U.K., the United States is not in lockdown despite surges of covid-related deaths in recent weeks. Therefore, I can travel across the U.S. without many restrictions, but I don’t. I am an American international student who is struggling to determine when it is safe to return to Edinburgh and unsure of whether I will be able to return at all this semester. As I have gleaned from social media, many other American students in my position have taken this opportunity to travel across the U.S. I don’t blame them, it is an enticing possibility, but I would encourage any students who are tempted to travel to instead save up cash for vacationing after a vaccine has been distributed. Make a bucket list of places you must visit and you likely will be able to realize these wishes soon. Won’t it be more fun when more restaurants and bars are open and you don’t have to feel guilty for abusing loose travel restrictions?
Learning remotely from a different country is tricky due to the time difference that places tutorials in the middle of the night and the feeling of detachment that comes from physically being so far away. It is frustrating to see individuals travelling for pleasure when I might not be able to for university. I am supposed to be abroad in France right now, but instead, I am in Connecticut; this school year has not panned out how I or anyone else imagined it would. Despite all of these disappointments, I try to remain hopeful for what is to come, the places I will be able to visit, and the people I will be able to meet. They will all still be there when the virus has passed, and the thought of that is getting me through online uni.
Other advice includes:
“Schedule in two daily cries, one in the morning and one in the evening to release emotions.” - Annabel
Annabel’s right - sometimes if it all gets a bit much, just let it out. Just cry. It’s not weak and it’s not stupid. Just cry! How many pandemics have we been through before? None. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed, but do reach out if it feels too hard to deal with on your own.
“Do the ‘Yoga with Adrienne’* 30-day challenge!”- Kate
I cannot recommend this enough; Kate’s definitely on to something here. If HIIT or running or weights isn’t your thing, it’s still so important to get your body moving to flood your system with endorphins to propel you through the day, the week, the lockdown. Just a walk and some yoga every day will help more than you can imagine. *Other yoga YouTubers are available.
I hope you’ve found at least one piece of useful advice here and I really hope it helps you and makes your lockdown just that little bit easier.
Whatever works for you, do that, and keep trying until you figure it out. You’ve got this!
This article was written by Clara Sablitzky and students from the University of Edinburgh.