Studying in a Global Pandemic

I remember in late March this year I returned to Sheffield after a weekend back at home visiting family. By the next Sunday, I had packed up a measly few items of clothing and was being driven back home by my parents, waving my housemates goodbye. ‘I’ll be back in a month’, I thought naively – oh how wrong I was.

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to be an extremely difficult time; many have lost so much unnecessarily and struggled to cope. So, it is understandable that many of us can be apprehensive about the new changes such as moving to or back to University. For anyone feeling lost, I completely understand. A few months prior, I was considering deferring my third year due to my hilariously bad mental health and worries about keeping up with the workload. From conversations with my housemates and friends, I did decide to continue as I knew I had a good support network to guide us all through. Plus, I am obviously the matriarch of the house – they can barely survive without me. Attempting to study in a Global Pandemic suggests some challenges of readjustment, especially with having had essentially five months off. So, here are a few things I have been doing to ease myself into University life again.

Looking into a koi fish pond

Firstly, I am praying for no 8 AM lectures. However, before that inevitably happens, I am preparing by completing my administrative tasks as I like to call them.  The University asks that you complete your general administration, module confirmation and sorting student finance, so this always helps kick my mind into thinking about going back to academics. With the Rona still looming, I have been taking the time to familiarise myself with the University’s and the Government’s updated COVID guidelines and explaining what I feel comfortable with regarding the pandemic. Obtaining a mask that works with all my outfits is a top priority to me, safety and stylish – of course. Then we get down to the reading. My module coordinators send introductory emails giving us our initial reading and books we are required to buy for the course. As I am going into the third year, I have opted to write a dissertation in the second semester, so I have been using this time to read up on primary texts and debates. It is important to integrate myself into academics again, I have got incredibly used to waking up at 9 AM. But that is not something I am quite willing to ease myself out of yet.

Seeing my family and friends is another way I like to prepare to go back to University. It is a little different in the circumstances this year, but I am lucky enough to have my birthday in September therefore, I do tend to see most of them. If it is safe to do so, I would urge anyone to go and have a chat with a missed friend or relative. The interaction can remind you there is a world outside your house and when practiced respectfully, it can be a wonderful change. Even if it is a simple gesture as cooking a meal, then like me, you can also prepare for your Sheffield arrival by sneaking Henderson’s Relish into every appropriate dish you serve. Other activities such as exercise and meditation have similarly helped to prepare me over the past few months. In this maddening time, it is easy to forget how to calm yourself and feel hopeful for the future. My entertainment has largely consisted of setting the treadmill to a high incline to resemble the treacherous hills of Sheffield. Crookesmore Road will (hopefully) not be my enemy anymore.  To me, these actions can help to focus your mind on leaving for yourself and those around you to help you feel secure and excited to move.

The last operation is moving back to my University home and getting settled, this I find to be the best way to ease myself back. For anyone moving into new accommodation, be safe and good luck! It is worth researching the facilities around you to help familiarise you with a new area; this could include finding the nearest supermarkets, finding your bus routes and your local parks. Getting back into my University space is crucial for me, it personally helps me motivate myself and gain structure when I am around other students. This transition is going to be a strange, but one we all can relish.

Welcome back to Sheffield.

-Hannah (Third Year, English and History)

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