By Valerie McHugh
It is fair to say that life as we know it has changed astronomically, and for college goers, life has become utterly unrecognisable.
Long lectures in stuffy lecture halls and trips along the Quincentenary bridge in the lashing rain have temporarily become a thing of the past, and a significant amount of our college degrees will now be earned online.
But nonetheless, the academic year of 20/21 has commenced and getting back into the swing of our new normality will be a challenge. So, whether you are staying at home, commuting, or hibernating in your college accommodation, here are some tips to get you started on the right foot.
- Make your own Covid-19 ANTI-PACK and bring it everywhere you go.
In this day and age masks are a fashion staple. It has become one of those things you check off in your head before you leave the house along with your keys and wallet. Ensure that you pack a suitable mask (the quirkier the design the better) in your bag when taking a trip to campus or to town.
Also, try and prepare for plan B by packing a second one in your bag for days when a late night may lead to forgetfulness. Along with this make sure to pack some alcohol hand sanitiser (70% or more) in your bag and use it before you eat or touch your face.
Other useful bits and bobs for your ANTI-PACK are sealable bags to dispose of your used masks, tissues, anti-bacterial surface wipes and hand cream – because all that hand sanitiser plays havoc with your skin!
- Set up a study space at home
They say ‘home is where the heart is’ and whether your heart is Corrib Village or your hometown, this new ‘at home’ college set up is just as important as before, and good grades won’t come easily. If you are spending lots of time in online lectures, it will be helpful to create a suitable study place for yourself. Get yourself a makeshift desk, a comfortable chair and make sure there is a plug socket nearby to keep your electronics charged.
Also, a pencil holder never goes to waste, and it is always useful to have a few spare pens lurking around.
Finally, don’t forget to have a snack drawer nearby with healthy goodies for those essay marathons. Things like fruit, nuts and crackers are perfect for snacking on, and a sneaky packet of Jaffa Cakes will never go astray!
- Set a daily reminder to check your email
It is now easier than ever before to forget your NUIG email exists and ironically, it is the main source of communication between lecturers and students in our current climate. If you are prone to forgetfulness, set a reminder on your phone, or even leave a sticky note on your mirror for when you are brushing your teeth, to ensure you keep up to date with communication from the NUIG faculty and your peers.
- Make a timetable
Things have been up in the air recently, and keeping on top of class schedules and deadlines is more important than ever. Get yourself a wall calendar and pin it in your study space. Don’t forget to include time for relaxation in your schedule, because it is still important to take a study break!
- Unmute your class group chat
Most students are in a course group chat, and generally they fall into one of two categories. Either the chat buzzes one thousand times a day and you have it muted, or the last message in the chat was sent during RAG week of first year where a guy in your course invited everyone to his mates cracking house party.
Nevertheless, we are living in previously unimaginable times and staying in contact with people in your course while studying from home can be really useful, especially around assessment times. If one does not exist, make it your priority to get in contact with your Class Rep and try and get one set up.
But most importantly, make sure you look after yourself this year, both physically and mentally. Get plenty of exercise and make sure to plan some socially distanced down time that adhere to the public health guidelines. Remember, the NUIG counselling service is also available if you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed.
Troy Bolton once said, “we are all in this together” and even if it has become a cliché recently, it still applies. We will get through this, and by following these tips, life might be just a little bit easier.