A few months ago, our lives changed drastically as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When I imagined coming to York for my degree, I did not, by a long shot, think that I’d be spending a lot of my time cooped up in my room and vigorously washing my hands! As an international student, studying abroad was a chance for me to immerse myself in the experience of living and learning in a new environment, exploring different places and meeting new people. However, all of that has had to change. We have had to adjust to a new way of living and learning to keep ourselves and others safe. Before the pandemic, I had a set routine with regards to my lectures and seminars. While in class, there were minimal distractions. However, with online learning, there’s a tendency to get lost, be distracted or feel unmotivated. To avoid becoming bored and to keep motivated, I have tried to adapt to our current circumstances by adopting a few tips and tricks to keep me grounded. These have improved my online learning experience; so I hope they can help you too!
Organise, organise, organise…
Your courses, assessments and dissertations are still very real. The only thing that has changed is that you are doing everything from your own personal space. To ensure you keep your mind sharp and productive, it helps to have an organised workspace. A clean room, organised desk/table and minimal tabs on your browser may increase your focus and enthusiasm.
‘Do not disturb’
With most online learning platforms, you can decide to turn off your camera and audio. The downside of this is that you may end up spending more than half the time on your phone scrolling through social media apps. At the initial stages of the lockdown, I did this a lot. At the end of an online session, I found that I hadn’t really learned anything. Putting your phone on flight mode or ‘do not disturb’ takes your mind off possible distractions that might affect your learning experience.
Move around your space
One of the things I miss about in-class learning is the process of getting ready and going to class. In retrospect, getting out of my pyjamas, showering, walking to class or shuttling between campus East and West was quite therapeutic. Studying online from home is a completely different experience and the absence of a proper routine makes it even more difficult. If you are used to doing online lessons in your room, consider moving to a different space in your house. Due to how demotivated I was in the first three weeks of the lockdown, I started leaving my room and doing all my work in the kitchen. I went up to my room only when I wanted to rest. Depending on how good the weather is and the kind of space you live in, you can also sit outside. The process of moving makes you feel like you are doing something different and helps you to focus on my online sessions.
Prepare and engage
We are living in unprecedented times (you are probably tired of hearing that) and there is no go-to guide on “how to survive a pandemic while still being productive”. It is important not to put too much pressure on yourself, but it is also important to hold on to habits and attitudes that aided your understanding and generally assisted your academics before the pandemic, such as preparing for lectures or seminars. I found that reading one or two books or articles from the reading list made me anticipate my lectures, and gave me the confidence to engage. This way, you don’t just coast through the sessions, but you actually get something from them.
These are just a few things that have helped me navigate and make the most of the current circumstances. Remember; do your best, take breaks and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Why not read some more blogs on dealing with the lockdown?