My university experience during the pandemic
8th March 2021
Thanks to the pandemic and the need for social distancing, universities have been forced to make a transition from in-person teaching to remote learning. That also has changed the dynamic between teachers and students. With a year of online teaching behind us, we are now in a position to reflect on this new framework for teaching.
While teachers have been challenged, learning how to use digital tools and rethinking their teaching methods, students have become their supervisors and self-regulators. Now we can’t rely on the body language with non-verbal communication missing - one can only guess how learning is received.
The absence of teachers or other students causes individual student's problems to become more isolating. The walls constructed between us allow people to be crushed as those walls steadily closing on us. Students and lecturers interact behind screens and replace human interactions with messages and e-mails. Both parties have launched into unfamiliarity, but with an expectation of everything to stay normal.
It becomes harder to differentiate between different aspects of life when all parts of it become more homogenous. Paradoxically, this is what pushed me out of my comfort zone. After ten hours of virtual lectures a week, students have ended up with an overwhelming amount of free time. To make my days less wasteful, I’ve tried a variety of habits and routines, and the experience of being a student has completely shifted.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed and hapless because of the chaos in the world, habitual structures allowed me for more control over certain components of my life. It was vital to make days significant for any reason because otherwise, they would flow over unnoticed.
As soon as I got comfortable living the life I designed, it brought me to the realisation of how much autonomy we actually have over our lives. It sounds frightening at first because nobody wants to have so much responsibility and influence over it. People tend to think of life happening to them, not for them.
Yet, there is something very particular that academia offers. It provides a foundation and a scope for further expansion. But the active part of the journey is discovering one’s own voice and turning all experiences into personal development. People around us can teach us the most valuable lessons as we take in our surroundings also. The understanding of who we are may push us in the right directions in life.
These figurative walls led to a grasp at the void, which led me to find my serenity. When the pattern of constantly hoping & worrying about the future stops, things start shifting. When we detach from the external, the internal takes over. Perhaps aside from the alienation & isolation; there are some benefits of the pandemic.
In the future, circumstances will change. People will return to their previous jobs, universities, and friends, with habits of old returning. But the lessons learned are invaluable. Through adversity, one can learn the importance of relinquishing control. Through self-awareness, one can learn how to live to the fullest potentiality. There is great comfort found in the inertia of stillness.