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(Part 1) Campus Quarantine: How I’m Coping with COVID-19 as a Student

By Jordyn Grantham | November 19, 2020

My name is Jordyn, and I am a mature student in the Bachelor of Nutrition program at the University of Saskatchewan. Last year I left my career as an ultrasound technologist and decided to return to school and become a registered dietitian. Little did I know my experience would be so much different than the traditional university experience. This fall I will be starting my second year of the program after having finished my winter term remotely, returning home to quarantine, and rejoining the workforce as an ultrasound technologist during COVID-19 pandemic. As I am writing this, I am unsure of what my second year will look like, although I anticipate some form of remote learning will continue for some time (see part 2 for an update!)
On March 13th, 2020, the University of Saskatchewan among other universities in the country moved to remote learning, in response to the ongoing COVD-19 pandemic. I packed up and made the drive back home to Olds, Alberta. On my way home, I stopped at my parent’s house in Hanna, Alberta– a small town that is perfectly placed between Saskatoon and Olds, where I normally stop for lunch, a short visit, and fuel. This time on the way out the door instead of the typical care package, my mom gave me four rolls of toilet paper, an unusual departing gift I would say, but very symbolic of the strange times ahead.

I was honestly not worried and did not think that I would struggle with remote learning, but I quickly became irritable, stressed and unable to focus. I was surprised at how hard the adjustment was. I’m sure all of this was compounded by the fact that I went back to work full-time while finishing the semester, the overwhelming amount of negative news surrounding the pandemic, and the feelings of uncertainty for what the next few months would hold emotionally, financially, academically and professionally.  Most of our professors recorded lecture videos that we watched at our leisure, and some held virtual lectures. Programs like Google Docs, WebEx, and Zoom became a student’s best friend over the next few months. Some of our final exams were cancelled, some were given as a take-home exam and some were held online in a timed format. Every professor and student adapted to the situation a little differently!

In times like this you rely on the supports of your family, friends and significant others. I am so very thankful that we live in a time where digital communication is as accessible as it is, and am forever thankful that my grandma knows how to use FaceTime! She is a remarkable lady with realistic and comforting outlooks. One day as I was FaceTiming her, talking about all my worries for the fall semester, worries about having steady employment over the summer and worries for my significant other’s employment, she told me the best quote imaginable for this time, “Planning is a fool’s errand.” We have no control over the future and all we can do is wait patiently and follow the guidelines set by our physicians, leaders and scientists. This quote truly resonated with me and I have been inserting it into every conversation I have.

Being a university student during the COVID-19 pandemic may be one of the most unique challenges I’ve ever faced in my university career. Remote learning is the reality for right now and I believe that this pandemic will help shape us into resilient students and able and adaptable healthcare professionals. I am a chronic procrastinator who needs absolute silence and concrete deadlines, so without a library and new flexible deadlines, I knew I would be in trouble. Something I have yet to figure out is how the deadlines come so fast, while the days are so slow?

As a new semester of remote learning looms, I am thinking about how students can make the most of remote learning. I think it depends on the type of student you are, and I am most certainly not an education major, a teacher, or an expert in the field by any means, but these are the things that I TRIED to do. The key word there being tried, as I still spent way too much time on Instagram and I may have spent an exuberant amount of time watching the latest Netflix crazes, but here are the eight things I learned while finishing this semester remotely:
  1. Write everything down. If you don’t you will forget.
  2. Try and stick to a schedule, watching another show instead of a lecture is tempting but try to avoid it! Instead schedule time for bother leisure and learning.
  3. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself some time to adjust to your new classroom, whether it be a home office, your bedroom, or the living room. 
  4. Try to limit your time on social media. I spent hours in the abyss of Instagram and Tik-Tok, which really helped me finish my accounting case study…. WAIT that didn’t help at all.  
  5. Rely on your support system.
  6. Don’t fool yourself, you need to study just as hard for an open book exam as a closed book exam, do yourself a favour and treat them as equal.
  7. Back up your open book exams and save things often! Technology failures are real, and it can happen at any time.  Frantically trying to save four hours worth of work during an exam while your computer is glitching is not how you want to end the semester, trust me.
  8. Most importantly, planning is a fool’s errand!
This was my personal experience and my classmates may have had different challenges and perspectives. We are in such an unprecedented time and when the uncertainty of the future weighs on me I am comforted knowing that I can always count on the support of my loved ones and be thankful that we are safe, healthy and secure during this pandemic. I am also inherently grateful for the opportunity to continue to pursue my education in a manner that is both safe for me and my community. Something I know a lot of students around the world may not have the opportunity to do.
Finally, I would personally like to commend the University of Saskatchewan, our college, our professors, and the staff for the creative, fast, and adaptive response that was provided.

Read Part 2 of Campus Quarantine

Jordyn is a 2nd year Nutrition student at the University of Saskatchewan. A former ultrasound technologist who’s passion for cooking led her to back to school as a mature student to become a registered dietitian! She is passionate about all things food, cooking, and gardening and is most interested in public health nutrition, food security, and health promotion.

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