Where do I start? It all began during my second year, when, in March we were all thrust into lockdown 1.0, assured it would be over by Christmas, sounds familiar doesn’t it? The university was able to quickly pull together to provide us with an online platform from which to learn when we returned from our Easter break. So, with two young kids in tow, I embarked on a new journey of studying from my kitchen table.
This was challenging. I’ve never been a person who can work well from home. I like to be surrounded by people and noise when studying, but the kids doing laps of the kitchen table singing the soundtrack to ‘Hamilton’ didn’t prove to be the right kind of noise conducive to learning. But, I managed to achieve the grade I had predicted myself to achieve and had the summer to prepare for a final year of online study.
Now here we are, the end of the first term of my final year. It hasn’t been an easy ride. I still struggle to study purely online and I find my motivation is strongest in the early hours of the morning, but I am hopeful that I can do this and finish the degree on a high note.
We can’t talk about 2020 without mentioning Zoom. A year ago, no one had heard of it. Now, “can everyone see my screen” is common in all of our vocabularies. I’ll admit the idea of a breakout room still strikes fear into my soul, but I have accepted that this is the way things are happening now. I have just attended my first fully online conference. Although it definitely lacked the human connection that I thrive on, it was still a great experience. It gave me the opportunity to connect with people across the globe. It also gave people who would not normally be able to access this particular conference, the chance to. I’m not saying I love Zoom or ever will, but I understand the importance of technology in a modern world and its role in connecting people.
A year of possibilities
The Archaeology department that I am part of has given me opportunities to improve my confidence in attending, presenting at and participating in online meetings and I am grateful for that. If I think about it, 2020 has been a year of possibilities. I made connections for my career going forward. I was able to go on my first fieldwork trip giving me the experience necessary for my future career and an opportunity to collect data for my dissertation.
I’ve learnt over the past year to manage my time and to create a better work-life balance, to switch off and have proper family time and not have half an eye on my emails. I’ve learnt the importance of friendship and how much I value being surrounded by those I love. Please don’t let my positivity be mistaken for me ‘turning a blind eye’ on the events of the year. Of course, we cannot gloss over how challenging this year has been for everybody in one way or another. My family has battled health and financial issues this year and it most definitely hasn’t been plain sailing. But I am a strong believer in mindsets playing a huge part in our lives and the reality we create for ourselves.
If I had to use one word to summarise 2020, I would say, resilience. We have had to learn how to be resilient in the face of adversity. We have had to use resilience to leap over hurdles that life has thrown our way, relationship hurdles, work, and study hurdles. Like that quote apparently coined by James Lane Allen says, “adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it”, 2020 has shown us exactly what we are capable of and what humans can achieve if we stick together, work together, and most importantly, love together.