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Online learning and working - a challenge that might transform into an opportunity

Stating that my life is not the same since the lockdown would almost sound like an understatement.

COVID-19 made me rethink my priorities when it comes to academia, work and human interactions. And I had the chance to experience this new “lifestyle” last academic year while undertaking my placement. Out of nowhere, I did not have “coffee breaks” with my colleagues - breakout rooms should have sufficed. I did not plan in advance the training days or the presentations at different stakeholders that had to be done face to face in the London office - a Calendar invite would have done the job in less than one minute.

I honestly hoped that in September, when I return to Manchester, everything will be “business as usual” - will see my friends and we will hang out, study together and volunteer and have maybe an all-nighter when the deadlines approach. But unfortunately, I was mistaken and now I get to experience how it is to fully immerse myself into Zoom seminars, Piazza discussions and Adobe Spark pages. I have to plan in advance my “hangouts” with my friends (and the introductory part of this is always a “can you hear me?”) and I know every single corner of my room since this is the place where I spend almost all my time (please read 95%). Truly, I do not envy at all people that did this last year as well - seems like it is the beginning of November and I still feel like I am not fully adjusted to this lifestyle.

But is this challenging period actually so bad? Do not get me wrong - would change this lifestyle in a heartbeat and return to the one that I used to have. However, I started to see the bright side of this situation, and so should you! To begin with, I do not have to wake up at 7:00 for a 9 am lecture and neither do I need to plan in advance my journey to work - probably will never be late if the meeting is online. I have the luxury of actually prepping my meals in advance and not indulge myself with a meal deal for almost every lunch break.

Because we have seen a shift from offline to online, everything seems more accessible. Gone are the days when I would have missed a talk hold by a professional or by a company that sparked my interest - instead, now that the majority of them are recorded, I am at one click away from getting the information on demand.

But for me, the biggest advantage of this lockdown is the ability to actually reflect upon the situation and understand a little bit more about myself. Unforeseen circumstances make us gather more information in a short amount of time. Think of this period as a difficult level in a game - you might not like it, but in order to level up, you have to face the challenges. And while you do so, take the opportunity to think about strategies that functioned well in these times to jumpstart your next period of life!