Covid has impacted each and every one of us in some way or another. I finished my undergraduate degree and half my Masters in my bedroom.
The last few months of my undergrad were spent at home, during a time where everyone was unsure of when things would be back to normal (2 weeks WHO?). I actually missed my ‘accidental’ last day of college, because my dad – unlike me – predicted that getting on a packed Luas at 8am when an unknown virus had just hit Ireland was maybe not the best idea. I didn’t care too much, because there hadn’t been an announcement that colleges were going to close for the year yet. By 11am that day, my Instagram was flooded with all my classmates going out for brunch and early drinks to celebrate the announcement that it was the final day of their undergraduate degree. Meanwhile, I was at home pondering my entire existence. It sucked.
I handed in my dissertation the next day online, so I never got to get it printed and do the typical ‘holding my dissertation’ picture in college. Looking back, I could’ve just printed the title page and held it over a book and took a picture in my garden. My brain was clearly preoccupied with other things. When I handed in my final assignment, I opened Spotify and played a graduation song, walking into my kitchen to tell my mum I finished my degree. It was underwhelming to say the least.
The week before classes were due to start, my Masters professors organised a day for us to come into college and do an introductory class for us. I was delighted and ready to take on a new course in a new college. The next day, we got an email telling us that we would not be doing any in-person classes for the semester.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s something nice about being able to wake up 5 minutes before a lecture, still in my PJs, and attend classes for the day. It was alright for the first few weeks, but it got pretty old very quickly. I tried to make myself get ready for the day as if I was going out, but when you know you’re not going anywhere, the motivation to put on a pair of jeans is non-existent.
Making friends with people you’ve never met is not easy. We never get a chance to talk outside of class, and we can’t talk in class either. The course group chat is solely for course-related things. Someone tried to make the effort to do a fun group call for the course, but because we didn’t know each other, it was full of awkward silences.
The only way we made friends was by messaging a random person who seemed to be doing a similar essay topic and starting a conversation. It’s daunting, but we’re all in the same boat. Still, because we can’t see each other, keeping up a friendship with someone you haven’t met is tough, especially when Covid has made us all a little socially anxious.
One thing that I didn’t expect was how difficult it is to use the library of a college you’ve never been to before. The online booking system is already pretty daunting for anyone who already knows their college, so doing it as a new student was horrendous. I went into college a handful of times to try and study in a random spot on campus, but it’s difficult to do when you don’t know half the buildings, and everything is closed. So I stuck to doing half my Masters from home. There’s no real happy ending to this. Finishing your undergrad and starting a new course at home is not fun. I’m so happy I chose to do my Masters part-time, because I can look forward to actually being on campus and getting a proper college experience for my final year as a student.