Starting University… Online

As a new university term starts across the UK, we face a very strange student experience. With parties a no-go and lectures moved online, many students may feel apprehensive about the future of their university experience. Coping with the workload of university alongside the stress of the current events may seem challenging, so The Daily Mindset set out to find out how people are really feeling. We interviewed Priya, a student from a UK university about her experiences going into second year and how she is coping with the changes brought on by the pandemic.

What does university look like for you at the moment?

Right now, I’m not really sure what to expect for the coming months- the majority of my work us online at the moment with a few in-person lectures. This of course means that there is limited social interaction but I’m definitely making the most of what I can!

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Do you have any worries about the new term?

I worry a little bit about not getting enough support due to the lack of in person teaching, but I know that universities have put things in place to help students online. I’m also feeling a bit apprehensive about studying completely on my own because I like to work with my course friends but this will be limited this year. I worry that it will be an isolating experience.

How are you coping with the stress and worries at the moment?

There are lots of things I’m doing at the moment because I think its really important to look after yourself. It really helps me to FaceTime the friends that I don’t live with, because I often find that they can relate to what I’m saying and we can work through things together. I also find that listening to music and watching good movies can really help to lift some of my stress if I need to have a bit of rest. I also try to talk to my family about how I feel because its nice to keep them in the loop and even though they may not know exactly what it feels like, its nice to share my thoughts.

What advice would you give to people who are starting university?

There are three key bits of advice I would give. The first is to go in with an open mind. University may be different this year but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a terrible time. If you try not to dwell on what things could have been like and try to focus on the positives and new opportunities that are coming your way, it may make your time much better. Secondly, as cringe as it sounds, just be yourself, moving to a new place can be daunting but try to put yourself out there and talk to people if you’re feeling isolated. It’s very likely that someone feels the same as you. Lastly, make use of the virtual opportunities that your uni may be offering, even though it might not interest you- you might find something you really enjoy.

Do you think anything positive could come from learning predominantly from home?

Yes absolutely! It has given people a chance to take control of their time and work out a routine that works well for them- you can take things at your own pace in some ways, which is a good feeling.

Do you have any tips for students that may struggle with studying home?

Yes I would definitely say try not to be too harsh on yourself. If you make a list of things to get done in the day, try to make your workload realistic and don’t overwork yourself. You are your own boss now, so obviously you should try and stay on task, but you absolutely don’t need to be productive all of the time. Its also important to remember that there may be days when you don’t feel 100% committed and motivated, and that’s okay! If you’re not feeling productive, it might be time to take a break. I like to talk to my friends when I need some time out and make use of the outdoor spaces (if you feel comfortable doing so). Getting some fresh air, even if its just for a few minutes, can help to refresh your mind. I think its important to get enough rest.

If you’re not feeling productive, it might be time to take a break… I think it’s important to get enough rest

How do you make sure you have a good workspace at home?

I know that everyone has different preferences when it comes to this, but I am not someone who likes to work in my bed. I try to set up a working environment (my desk) which means that I can differentiate between ‘working time’ and ‘down time’.

What would your message be for university students?

Just try to remember that everyone copes with things differently. When I’m feeling a bit isolated and I’m struggling to deal with the changes to university life, I try to remember that these feelings often pass. I try to take every day as it comes – there are so many opportunities to develop strong bonds with friends so try to be patient. It’s OKAY if you don’t feel 100% all of the time; make use of your support network, even if its not your immediate friends and family. Remember to check out the support services that your area may offer if you’re interested!

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