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A year into the pandemic: the lessons I have learnt

March marked the one-year anniversary of entering lockdown into the UK, which sometimes can feel so long ago but at the same time like it was only yesterday. I have decided to write this blog to reflect on how I have changed over the year and how any worries I had have panned out.

Like many other students, this time last year I was looking forward to finishing my placement and returning to university for my final year, and after being away from Manchester I was really looking forward to returning to the city I love. When the pandemic hit, I didn’t expect to be finishing my university experience online.

Being a workaholic, I really struggled to separate home and university work as the two environments were now forcefully blended into one, which led to me finding myself taking much longer than usual to watch lectures or to write up notes which was really frustrating. I have since learnt that setting myself small, achievable goals has been the best way to stay on track and feel like I am achieving something, instead of setting myself big tasks and getting agitated when I don’t complete them. Understanding and accepting that the pandemic has changed how large a workload I can handle has been challenging, but I finally feel happy with my newfound studying routine.

I am definitely a more empathetic and patient person as a result of the pandemic through the frustrations of online learning and exams, dealing with technical difficulties/delays and relying on all students to contribute. I have grown to acknowledge that all lecturers and students are in the same boat, we’re all having to adapt to a new way of working and semester 2 is definitely running a lot smoother now everyone has settled into remote online learning.

As someone who prefers in-person timed examinations I was worried at the prospect of online and open-book examinations, as the expectations from lectures and examiners change. Sharing my exam worries with my peers and my academic advisor has helped me calm down tremendously, and I will definitely be more open in the future instead of bundling up my stress until I burn out. From this experience, my critical thinking skills have developed, and I am seeing the results of pushing myself paying off as I have achieved my best results thus far in my academic career in semester 1.

As this academic year enters the final few months, I am sad my time at university is over and it is disappointing that graduation has been postponed. Hopefully, we can celebrate in the near future without worrying about covid restrictions so it will be an amazing chance to celebrate the last 4 years at AMBS who I have been with since day 1. It has been an extremely challenging year, but finally I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of this extremely long tunnel.

A photo of Emily Parsons with a blank task list