University During Covid-19

Maisie here! I have now come to the end of my first semester of my final year of university and I thought I would don my best Christmas jumper for the occasion!

I study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield and had a year out to do my internship in 2019-2020. It has been a busy, stressful and weird semester but surprisingly I have enjoyed it.

I thought I would reflect back on these last few months to give people a insight into my experience at university during a global pandemic.

This academic year has been a peculiar one so far! As I have said in previous posts I was on a year long internship in academic year 2019-2020 so I had no experience of university education during the pandemic. I arrived in Sheffield in September and did not really know what to expect course and contact wise!

University has been very different due to Covid-19 and it did take a while to readjust to a new way of working. From September to December I only went into university a handful of times, this was for in person tutorials and I was not a fan of the experience to be honest. There were about 15 people in a lecture theatre that usually seats 300, it felt quite isolating in that sense but I did enjoy seeing my lecturer and working through exam questions – all from a distance. On campus and in university buildings there are a lot of one way systems and safety measures implemented, this is really great to see but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like university. I do feel sorry for students who have just joined university because they are definitely not getting the full experience I got in my first year, real lectures, contact hours with tutors and labs!

I am definitely a bit of an introverted person in general, so having to socially distance and stay inside has not affected me in a huge way. I do love a night out or a good old catch up in a pub but as I am in my final year I knew I couldn’t be going to Roar (University of Sheffield’s best night out!) every Wednesday night even if everywhere was open! I had already brought down my expectations for socialising even before everything went into lockdown so it wasn’t such a shock to the system. My flat mates are an absolute saving grace to my sanity, we look out for each other and make sure we get outside and have some fresh air (this is a must!!).

On a positive note I actually feel that during this semester I could structure my days better and make the most out of the time I had. For nearly all my modules lectures were pre-recorded and my lecturers would upload them at the beginning of the week, this meant I could choose when to focus on different modules and structure my week in a way that I knew I could complete all the work required. I love a good spreadsheet so I made a sheet with all the lectures and videos I had to watch and attend each week, the feeling of being able to tick off something when I have completed it is the best!

One of my modules was an aircraft design module and 50% of the mark was for a group design project. My team was made up of 5 people in the third year of my course, as I have been out of university for my year in industry I am now in the same year as people who were in the year below. Group projects can be difficult at the best of times and the fact I have never actually met any of the people I was in the team with is rather odd, but we worked to the best of our abilities and relied heavily on Google docs to get it all done! All our meetings were conducted over Google meet and worked okay, a few people missed a meeting or two but we also had a WhatsApp group to make sure everyone knew what they should be doing for the next meeting. We submitted the report just before Christmas so hopefully we have done well!

I returned home at the beginning of December in the ‘student mass exodus’ as lots of media sources called it! I have been finishing my semester here at home and it has been a bit of a readjustment again getting used to working at home. It has been lovely seeing Mum and Dad but can sometimes be distracting when I am trying to do a lecture! I do think I find it easier to structure my day when I’m in Sheffield. But I am so thankful and grateful I could be here over the Christmas period! Overall, this semester has been a tough one but I do think I have done my best in the circumstances!

I may have completed semester 1 but now it’s onto revision for my January exams – the work doesn’t stop!

I hope you all have a great holiday whatever you celebrate, have a good old rest and eat lots of food!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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