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Online learning as a postgraduate student

Online learning as a postgraduate student

by Lydia

Online learning is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and rightly so. The majority of university courses have been delivered online this year. We asked current postgraduate student Lydia about her experience of online learning. Read on to find out more.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that 2020 was a bit of a shock to the system.

When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, I - like most people - was celebrating with friends and toasting to a brilliant year ahead. However, nothing could have prepared me for what the year was going to bring.

When I decided to do a Master’s, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up and that my focus would be completely diverted by the pandemic, rather than being on my University work.

When Coronavirus meant that the University had to close, and all of my friends started to leave Newcastle and return home, I was apprehensive about what this would mean for my studies. I was halfway through a Master’s course in Spanish Translation, and still had various essays and exams left to complete, including my large summer project.


The transition to online learning

Everything felt so uncertain, and everyone was extremely stressed. But, eventually things started to become the ‘new normal’, as we have all heard repeated so often, and classes were held online.

Seminars and lectures were on Zoom, library books were exclusively online, and socialising was a quiz with your friends over video chat on a Friday night.

When I decided to do a Master’s, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and that my focus would be completely diverted by the pandemic, rather than being on my University work. However, humans are great at adapting to their environment, and that is exactly what I did.

I was already used to setting my own timetable when it came to my studies, so that didn't really change, and I now had more time than ever to focus on my assignments, due to the nationwide lockdown.


New Project (100)

Overcoming challenges and frustrations

Don’t get me wrong, it was hard at times. Not seeing people in person felt isolating, and my motivation was at an all-time low at points without my course mates or lecturers there for encouragement.

In May, I decided it was time to move back to my parents’ house, as so many others had done two months prior. I didn’t know if it would affect my studies, having to research and write my final project from my old bedroom at home.

But, it was fine. I managed to complete it, and I am so proud of myself and my course mates for getting through the transition to online learning, and coping with a postgraduate course while the world felt like it was falling to pieces.


My advice as a postgraduate student during Covid-19

If I have any advice for those just starting their courses, or considering a course next year that may also still be online, then it would be to go easy on yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be productive, as things are already hard enough. Instead, try to find a good balance between studying and self-care.

Instead of working all day or all night, try setting more realistic goals, like working for a few hours every day and then planning something afterwards to look forward to. Whether that be watching your favourite show on Netflix, going for a walk, or starting a new hobby. If it was important to create a good work-life balance before, it is even more important now.

These are unprecedented times we are living in, and while embarking on a university course may currently seem more daunting than ever before, it is 100% doable and you will get that degree you’re wanting, even if it means that you won’t be getting the typical university experience that you were expecting.

Good luck, and stay safe!

We hope you have found this blog post useful. There is a lot of information out there about what university is like right now, which is why we're doing our best to collect the insights and experiences of real, current students. You can find out more about online learning from Newcastle University students in our Belong blog