The pandemic meant uni learning had to adapt pretty much immediately. In March 2020 I was just starting my final project as a bewildered first year, suddenly working from home and trying to get on with it like everyone else was.
Now as I enter my third and final year, I am well adjusted to a mix of online learning and heading onto campus. I believe I am well equipped to advise on how to manage the new normal when it comes to studying an arts subject.
A lot of my uni experience has been online lectures, breakout rooms and tutorials through a screen. For a start, as long as you remember to keep your mic off, your camera on and remember that your tutors can in fact see you, then you’ve got the basics down. With that; patience, a comfortable space to sit and a cup of tea make the whole thing a lot easier. Testing regularly for Covid and taking the sensible measures means that when heading onto campus, following one-way systems, wearing your mask and social distancing make everything run smoothly and need not interrupt your studying. Once I got into the routine of it I was on campus and in the studios as much as I could be.
A typical week for me during the pandemic may help show how it all works. A perk of online learning does mean 9AMs stay at 9AM so getting out of bed any earlier than 8:30 isn’t necessary. Keeping a good routine and set up meant I got used to rolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of tea and sitting at my desk with my laptop all ready for that morning’s call. After either a lecture or tutorial that may go on till midday, a team’s call with my course mates to plan our day and week ahead was a nice way to start. Setting realistic schedules with flexible plans to give way for any changes is also the best way to manage covid learning. Allowing for changes to happen and loosely planning for when things to go awry will make the whole process a lot less stressful.
After booking studio spaces, a typical walk into uni for me would be about thirty minutes, picking up some mates on the way and chatting about anything and everything on the way in. At AUB after grabbing our masks and cleaning our hands, a coffee from one of the coffee shops on campus sets us up to head to the studio. If we need anything else then it’s easy to send a quick email to a tutor to set up a meeting, or head over to ask the technicians for any technical help when it comes to making. Nearer deadlines and at more stressful periods of the term even without covid restrictions, taking a minute to sit outside on campus in the nicer weather or treating yourself to a pastry on campus helps alleviate some of the anxiety.
On other days planning to work at home makes more sense, keeping up with Teams calls and checking in with mates and tutors keeps the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing. Organising to meet up at someone’s house or flat to do work and have company is another perk of not going into uni, typically with the inevitable agreement to order food which is always a bonus. I would always say being on campus is the most enjoyable and helpful way to work but it’s good to know how to make working from home work best for you.
As far as it goes creativity wise, which I know for myself at least was difficult to keep up working from home, sticking to a loose schedule and encouraging myself to continue to make kept me going. I went back to old projects I wanted to develop and even followed some short online courses in areas of art and design I was interested in. Keeping it up and allowing myself to have a day off now and then made the past year a lot less daunting.
I would say I’m now a pro at managing online and on campus. Microsoft Teams has become my go-to method of communication, I’m used to booking spaces in the studio and grabbing my mask and hand san for wherever I go is second nature.