2020 vision and a little hindsight

In defence of this year, 2020 has been a year of growth, of opportunity and of experience. The year, like many other catastrophic world events, has humbled us and brought us together to remember the important elements of life. It has long been touted as the most important aspect to one’s life, and that is one’s health, so for godsake, wash your hands!!!

The world and life will continue to challenge us. As students we are not foreign to challenges and meeting them head on. There will be more restrictions, health warnings, mask-wearing and hand-washing, all done in the spirit of keeping us healthy and safe. So follow instructions and be a good citizen, we all need everyone to do the right thing.

As for studying in 2021, perhaps we may be back on campus in second semester, or we may not be. Keep your expectations about life and such things low. Keep positive about whichever mode we are privileged enough to learn. Who cares if Zoom university is the new norm, learn to be more grateful for your learning experiences. The tough stuff that we endured surely made us tougher.

Tips for a more enjoyable academic year

Have a glorious breakfast

Everyone knows how important it is to break the fast overnight, so try and wake up before your first morning lecture, with enough time to make a healthy breakfast and eat it mindfully. The same goes for preparing for lunch, with only half and hour often between the morning and the afternoon lecture period, create an easy to prepare meal before, so you can relax a little between your lecture.

Drafting and editing

The best essays, even ones that you have to write during exams, have been through a rigourous drafting process. Most of the best essays I’ve written, (H2A) have been edited and re-written at least three times. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really.

The first essay is simply my personal thoughts about the topic with a few academic references thrown in for good measure. The second draft incorporates more relevant literature to support my key ideas, and the third and following drafts involve editing for relevance, sense and flow. I want my words to sing on the page! So, if you don’t already and want more from yourself next year, prepare to write several drafts of your essay.

Maintain your connections

The best experience is one that is shared. If you have a pet or a human being to share in your experiences as a student, it is better. Talk to your partner about your study to your family, a study buddy or your lecturer. Take advantage of the Zoom catch ups that lecturers offer and schedule appointments with them, to get better in your study and remain motivated. The same goes for participation, when I interacted with my fellow students, I developed perspective and got more out of my lectures. So, if you’re shy, try and work on becoming more confident in speaking up, you will only benefit. Also, when you’re shy and choose not to show yourself on the camera, it makes it incredibly difficult to interact with you. So attend that free Zoom art class and have more fun!

These are the three things I endeavoured to do throughout my first semester, and the proof was in my results. There were limited periods of high stress time and I learnt how to balance my need for perfection against the need to simply get things done.

Believing in yourself

This sounds corny and trite, but stick with me. It’s my last point. Believe in the best. Even just learn to believe in yourself more. I was gutted when I only just passed my first assignment, but I really tried to believe that I could do better. And I did.

When I felt frustrated, I had a cup on masala chai and on those cold mornings, I continued to participate in Zoom lectures and continue to plan, write and edit my essays. Even on days when I felt like giving up, I tried my hardest to believe in the best and just keep going. That’s when the tough get tougher.

So, when 2021 hits us, and it will (in three hours, from when I’m typing this blog), believe in yourself and a better world. Stay positive out there.

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