I have had a lot of fun spending the past month exploring campus and beginning to get to grips with the libraries before assignments start to pile up. COVID-19 means that we have to make smart decisions about where and how we utilise study spaces. The university has made this very accessible with the pre-booking system but I will miss the days of having group meetings in library study rooms and then going out for lunch after a debate/presentation to celebrate. This new climate has meant that I have to undertake my research at home. This is something that is both very frustrating because I love the atmosphere which studying in the library provides, but this also means that I cannot get distracted when I see my friends. It also means I will save a lot of money as I will not have easy access to great hot chocolates with cream! Adapting will be difficult but this is our new normal and something which we have to come to terms with.
That being said, the staff at York, in particular those within the archaeology department, have been so welcoming and the online resources which they have provided are amazing! The time and effort on the part of the staff has been noticed and much appreciated. I have gotten to grips with the online learning environment much quicker than I would have previously because of this. Luckily for me, the final stages of my undergraduate degree consisted of polishing off my dissertation and submitting essays so I did not have the hardship of having to utilise platforms such as Zoom to complete my course. It is, however, now a staple for every student. I can confess that Zoom calls are not as scary and as awkward as I had first imagined they would be!
I am taking this learning curve as a chance to try something new and really push the boundaries of what I can achieve. I am taking advantage of the guest lectures and the research forum in particular. I have recently really enjoyed talks by Dr Caroline Bressy on the hidden histories of black Victorians and also a talk by John Oxely on why York should be granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With this mindset of trying something new I selected skills modules which I would never have thought to give the chance. For example, I am building my own website on North Yorkshire’s links to slavery in the setting of the British country house and I have also been researching the archaeology of human bones.
Outside of learning I am making the most of playing field hockey (whilst adhering to the safety guidelines). Playing a sport is one of the best ways to relieve stress and a way in which I avoid becoming overwhelmed. It is a great way to meet new people and grow confidence. If you haven’t joined any societies yet or are considering joining a sports team, give it a go! It really helps alleviate the ennui of working from home or studying for long hours.