What is it like studying a Master’s degree during Pandemic?
Yeah… it’s a bit chaotic, but it’s not that terrible.
I started my Master last year, pre-coronavirus. I only have three lectures and two seminars a week, while the rest of the time is for independent research and working on assessments. Not many lectures but I spend a lot of time in libraries, doing my research.
The first semester was pretty smooth and so do the beginning of the second semester, and then the world started to change in March. My lecturers stopped physical classes, cancelled presentations, and changed all the syllabus to adapt to new virtual teaching platforms. And then the U.K. was locked down in mid-March. The University finally closed, everything has been moved online since then.
During the transition, it was a bit chaotic because all of a sudden. For daily life, the school has to make sure everyone is safe and healthy (both mentally and physically) at home and is not marginalised because of this sudden chaos. Watching the news at that time was pretty daunting because the confirmed cases were soaring, and all these COVID-19 news were just overwhelming. Parents (e.g. my mom) were so worried about their kids living on campus or away from the family. As for the academic life, professors and students had to change the way of delivering and taking lectures. We had to test which platforms are suitable for each lecture and seminar and how we could do our empirical coursework virtually. A lot of things changed, and we all had to respond to this crisis as fast as possible to minimise the inconvenience and uncertainty.
This is when I clearly see and feel compassion and empathy in human beings.
As all the lectures, seminars, and office hours have all been moved online, my school, professors, students have all been supportive of one another. Instead of pressuring students to stick to the deadlines, my school and professors have put students’ health in the first place and fully assisted students in completing assessments during this uncertain time.
I was preparing for a teamwork presentation, and my teammates and I were very confused about our topic and were not feeling confident to complete the project. And doing a teamwork project itself was already frustrated (some teammates were just not on the same page as others were from the beginning) when everything had to be completed online. But my lecturers had calmed us down and guided us step by step through Skype calls and e-mails. They explained everything to us patiently, and we just felt so much better. All the anxiety that clouded our minds just got clearer. We did our best to prepare and learned a lot from each other. Finally, we handed in our project with absolute satisfaction and confidence.
I’m not exaggerating my feelings, but I think it’s my mind at that particular moment feeling really hopeless and fearful about failing the assessment. The pressure and anxiety that I had during that time were just overwhelming. Along with the project attached to the email, I wholeheartedly wrote my appreciation about what their support meant to us, and we really enjoyed the process although it’s like riding a roller coaster.
As my e-mail carried my appreciation to them, I think they felt how grateful I was, so they later replied to me with best wishes.
I was actually surprised by how my words carried my feelings, delivered to them and returned to me. It was that moment I felt waves of warmth ran through my whole body. And It was also that moment I clearly saw how everyone was doing their best to offer their help and cooperate with one another during this uncertain time. I think it’s the beauty of being human beings, being supportive and embracing one another. Even though I can’t go to school, meet my friends and professors, I still feel so grateful to do my Master’s degree during the pandemic.
p.s. There’s actually more to write about ‘how is it like doing a Master’s degree during the pandemic,’ so I will save for the future posts. (I think I will write something about writing master dissertation during the lockdown.)