Image description: On a pale pink background, there is a white notebook and pen to the right, and below is a white keyboard and computer mouse. The words ‘the new normal’ appear in black cursive font on the left-side of the image.
By Courtney Withers
It’s been about a week since most universities have switched to online learning, instead of face-to-face classes on campus, and it has been a pretty strange adjustment, to say the least.
The ‘new normal’ has swapped out talking to friends and tutors in in classes, to techno-sounding audio on Zoom. From sitting in Reid – having raced there to get the prime spot near the window – to sitting alone, at home, behind a screen. Sitting with friends during a break with a campus kebab in hand, to microwaving whatever’s dinner was the night before. All the small changes that make up a rather larger picture of what life has to be like right now.
I’ve done a lot of thinking in the last week; some productive and some not, but I’ve had much more time to reflect on a few things. Trying to stay positive and sticking to a regular routine – that’s productive. Listening to a sad song and crying in my car about everything I’m missing out on, and how everyone is affected by all of this – that’s probably not as productive.
This ‘new normal’ has changed a lot of things so far, but I think the main thing that has changed for me is perspective. The things I am valuing at the moment have certainly changed significantly, and the things that I complained about one or two months ago, seem insignificant and frivolous now.
Upon doing a little bit of research and thinking about my own experience, it is well understood that having a routine to follow helps to keep people focused and motivated. The routine that we would all normally be doing (if it wasn’t for the virus that shall not be named), should be something that we are implementing.
And so, I thought I would take the opportunity to write up a list of things we can all do to help stick to our normal routines, and thus trick ourselves into acting like we are still on campus, and life is as it was! Although this might seem pretty obvious and self-explanatory, a list never hurt anyone. Here goes…
Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ guide:
- Doing classes/lectures in the time that you would normally have the class. I know this seems pretty simple, but already I’ve noticed that I’m much more productive when I listen in to lectures online when they normally take place, instead of putting it off and listening to recordings later.
- Waking up at your normal time. Again, very straightforward, but effective in sticking to a regular routine. As much as I absolutely hate getting up early, and have to set five different alarms in increments of five minutes (I’m clearly not a morning person), I’m still sticking to waking up for classes when I normally would.
Saving those sleep-ins for the weekend will not only give you something to look forward to, but will allow you to get more out of your day during the week.
- Scheduling time for your friends. Everyone is feeling the effects of not having that day-to-day human interaction, but there are ways to combat that isolating feeling. One of the most encouraging things I heard this week is that it’s not ‘social distancing’, but ‘physical distancing’, meaning that you can still interact with people online – just not in person.
Some ways to be ‘social online’ are interacting with people in forums like Discord, Facebook calls, Zoom, Houseparty etc. But further than that, why not screen-share on one computer, and play a game of Jack Box, or schedule a dinner date with friends, where you all order Uber Eats and sit and eat together, while on a video call? Staying home and self-isolating doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with people, and be as social as you normally would be!
- Allocate different rooms of your house to represent different places. I know this seems like a crazy suggestion, but it is something I used to do in year twelve, and it was quite effective. I would go over my notes for an exam in different areas of my house, and thus associate that area with a specific subject. This is something can be done during this ‘new normal’ time, to trick ourselves into being in different places.
Maybe you could do all your social calls with your friends in your spare room; your study for uni in your dining room or office; time with family in the lounge room; and time for yourself in your bedroom. This association will trick your brain into thinking it’s in different places, and will make your time in each place more meaningful. Don’t fall into the trap of doing everything from the comfort of your own bed!
- Making the most out of your Zoom lectures. I know it’s annoying and weirdly personal to stare at your tutor through a computer screen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t receive the same sort out education you would be receiving on campus. Ask questions during the sessions, or email your tutors after the class, if you don’t feel like switching your camera on to ask a question in front of your online friends (completely unrelated to the fact that you’re still wearing your pyjamas…).
Keeping to a regular routine is important, but taking time for yourself is just as important. I know people have been saying “make the most out of this quarantine”, and “find a new project or two”, but if you just want to focus on your education and how you are feeling during this unprecedented time, that’s also fine.
If you’d like some updates on various campus-related issues and items that the Guild have been working on, head to Pelican’s Instagram profile (@pelicanmagazine) and find the infographic of information I compiled to make things a little easier for you.
Stay safe in this time of adjusting to the ‘new normal’, and I’ll see you around ‘campus’ soon.
Also, stay tuned for a very special Part II guide…
Courtney is wondering why there is only the ‘clapping hands’ and ‘thumbs up’ reactions on Zoom.
Picture courtesy of Pixabay