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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Peak Hike To Plane Crash Site

One of the many perks of going to university in Sheffield is being so incredibly close to the Peak District. I have been to the peaks a few times in my first and second year but not ever for a proper ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ style hike.

So a few weeks ago some friends and I went for a hike in the peaks to see the B-29 Superfortress crash site.

My flatmate and I drove from Sheffield city centre for about 50 minutes and parked in the outskirts of a little village called Hayfield. We walked (or scrambled) up to Mill Hill to meet a couple of friends and then carried on the Pennine Way for a socially distanced hike up to the crash site.

It was a super foggy day so it was hard to see very far in front of us, the Pennine Way was fine to navigate but as soon as we left the path to reach the crash site we were relying heavily on a compass! Once off the nicely paved path we were walking through boggy moorland, I had made the rookie error of forgetting to bring my walking boots with me to uni, so it was trainers for me and they were soaked!

We were walking through the boggy moor for about half an hour but then we came upon the crash site. It was incredible to see, the wreckage covers a much larger area then I first assumed. Over the years parts have been moved and blown about but because of its remote location there is still a huge percentage of the aircraft wreckage still there to be seen.

The aircraft took off from RAF Scampton travelling to American AFB Burtonwood. B-29 Superfortress crashed into the peaks on the 3rd November 1948 whilst descending through cloud. All 13 crew members were killed but the cause of the aircraft crash was never actually discovered.

As I said, on the day of our walk there was an incredible amount of fog and cloud so the conditions would have been relatively similar on the day of the crash, which was a eerie realisation.

I have to say my legs were incredibly sore the day after but it was definitely worth the pain and effort! I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see this piece of history still in the same place after over 70 years, I would highly recommend going to visit this site if you are ever in the peak district!

Here is a selection of pictures I took whilst at the crash site!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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Pots, Pans and Panic – Heading Back to Uni!

Hi it’s Maisie here! We have had a bit of a break from the blog over the summer but we are now back and ready to go – I have even got a swanky fringe so it’s all new round here!

It is now nearing the time that I will be going back to university, so I thought I would have a little ramble about how I am feeling regarding heading back to uni after my internship year at Boeing Defence UK.

Excited but surrounded by pots, pans and panic I will venture back to Sheffield!

I had such an incredible year at Boeing Defence UK but now it’s onto my final year at the University of Sheffield. I’m heading back to university! I am ever so excited to get back to Sheffield, I adore the city and can’t wait to live there for another year. I do know that university will be different because of the current global situation but I hope that by being sensible and safe I will still enjoy my final year at Sheffield – time for me to get my degree!

How is university going to be different?

University life is going to be different in many ways, no late nights in the library, less societies and no dancing in clubs at 3am – the latter probably being for the best! But most importantly because of the current Covid climate I won’t be in any face to face lectures (most contact will be online apart from labs and some tutorials). This means I will be on my laptop for a large percentage of my day, I will need a good laptop stand and very comfy chair – and my glasses when my eyes are exhausted from reading about aerospace materials for hours!

What is my living situation going to be like?

I lived in a flat by myself in Southsea for a year so going back to Sheffield will be a readjustment in that sense. I will be living with two of my best friends so it definitely won’t be too difficult – we all get on super well, as long as everyone does their washing up! Also, as we have said before, Lily and I have been living together during lock down, in my opinion this has been good on a lot of levels – mostly me having to adjust to living with another human being again! I think Lily was more happy with the fact I love cooking which meant she got some tasty meals (if I do say so myself!).

So what have I learnt from my internship?

I learnt so much throughout my year at BDUK and I met some incredible people. It was not only aerospace industry knowledge I gained throughout my year, I have learnt so much about the world in general and about myself (cheesy I know but it’s true!!). I definitely think I am a lot more independent now after my year of work, not just in my actions but in my thoughts and opinions. University is the first taste of freedom for most people but you are still in that little educational bubble, I think taking a step away from that has really helped me to re-evaluate lots of aspects of my life. So using all this new found knowledge I really do hope to do my best and achieve as much as I can in my final year!

How will I manage my money?

With my year at BDUK I earned an income so I was pretty comfortable with my budget and spending. Now I need to snap back to student life, I will be keeping a strict budget and managing my spending. I have to say that my weakness is second hand book shopping, I just love a book bargain so I had better keep an eye on that! I keep tabs on my money by having a spreadsheet with all my outgoing payments, including rent, utility bills and also food shops – lily has told me about an app she uses called EMMA so I may have to have a look at that before I start my new year and new spreadsheet.

How will I be keeping to a routine?

Time management is a must and from my year of real-world work I had to have a structured work day. At BDUK I actually started work at 7am so it was a massive change from what I was used to, I would wake up at 5:40am to get into work on time. However I am concerned that I will fall back into my irregular sleep pattern that I definitely developed for my first and second year of university. No more 10am wake ups for me, I have got to keep to a proper morning routine and set a time when I will start working every day.

How am I feeling?

Because I have been away from university for a year I am slightly concerned that when I get back to I am going to feel old – I mean I know I’m only 21 but this years freshers were born in 2002?! I can’t quite get my head around that. Also a readjustment for me will be going back into an academic setting, I haven’t learnt in a structured way for over a year so I’m a little nervous about getting back into the swing of things. I am going to have to put a lot of time and effort into all my work and I know it will be different and strange in many ways but I am up for the challenge.

I had better get packing now, I’ll update you on how I’m getting on in the near future!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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