It’s been a strange year, no one can deny, and spending that time as a university student has brought new experiences and challenges. Attending lectures online, chatting with friends over video calls, and spending most of your time at home isn’t exactly what we were all expecting but that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad year! In fact, quite the contrary! Here’s how my life has been as a University of Surrey student in lockdown.
National restrictions have led to a lot of changes in what life is like as a student at university. What I found to be the biggest difference is the feeling of being distant with friends. At certain times over the past year, there have been periods where mixing with other households and members of the student community has been prohibited. Combined with not seeing each other for a social chat between lectures, it can be easy to lose contact and become more distant with others. That being said, there are still plenty of ways to keep in touch online. Regular calls, messaging frequently and playing games online are all great ways to keep yourself close to those you know.
Find yourself wanting more friends? Or wanting to meet new people in a more social setting? Check out the Student’s Union and the societies and clubs! There might not be any bar crawls or in-person meet ups, but that hasn’t stopped the student community from pulling together and putting on some amazing events! From film and games nights, to art competitions and mixologist evenings, to academic talks and sporting challenges, there’s always something to get yourself involved with and keep in touch with your fellow students!
With working from home becoming the norm, course content has shifted into many different formats from live lectures to recorded elements; therefore, a sense of structure can often be lost from day-to-day life. For some students, a more fluid schedule each day works for them, but for many, including myself, without a rigid timetable I often struggle to maintain consistent motivation and managing my time efficiently. Fortunately, there are ways to work around that lack of structure, specifically (and yes, it is as simple as it sounds) giving yourself structure!! And not just for work, for everything! Creating a well-thought-out yet flexible schedule for yourself that includes everything you want to achieve, from your meals to time off to completing your course content, really can help keep you up-to-date with deadlines and plans.
Another major issue faced by many is a classic one, whether in a national lockdown or not; demotivation. There will always be times throughout each academic year where your motivation will waiver, but I found that it does hit harder when the world feels anything but normal. However, this is also helped with the use of structure and schedules. Setting challenging yet always achievable tasks and breaking up large chunks of the course helps to keep things moving. But sometimes it’s not always about the work; taking breaks or even days off are just as important to reset the brain and will lead to a calmer mind-set and a higher standard of work.
Your environment is also just as important. Through experience, I can say that a clean and professional desk or working station can really set the mood for the day. Spending an hour at the start of every week to tidy, clean and properly prepare for work has been a near-life saver when it comes to keeping motivated and calm through any frustration and stress that arises from deadlines.
This past year has brought up a lot of new challenges for students, but to every one there are things that can be done to help. Hopefully, my experiences and what has helped me will help you too! However, always remember, there is support available for all university students. From your personal tutors to the academic leads, every member of staff is here to help and, if needed, so are the amazing people at the Centre of Wellbeing.
Wanting to know more about the support services and our community here at Surrey? Take a look at some our other blogs!