Written by Juwairiah - Juwairiah is currently studying a MA pursuing her passion for Education and Creative Writing. Alongside her studies she works as an educator and facilitator within sixth forms and universities, she is also on the Sort Youth Advisory Panel. Her way to unwind after a long day, is by drinking a good cup of tea and watching Pandas tumble down slides on Youtube.
On a usual Tuesday evening, you will find me tucked in a classroom, mug of tea at hand, debating the theme of a poem. However, today is a little different. Although it is a Tuesday, there is no tea, there is no classroom and I am not surrounded by my peers. Instead, I am alone, in my bedroom, at war with my internet connection. I’m trying to figure out how to join my online class. The link isn’t working and my internet seems to be slower than usual. My lecturer has warned us that there may be a few hiccups, as it is the first time we are trying this. Either way, I’m sceptical, unsure of how beneficial an online class can be. I’m usually a cup half full sorta girl, but in this moment I’m struggling to see how it will work out. I’m unsure of how to deal with the cloud of uncertainty that hovers over me.
There has been so much change in the last couple of days. My university has cancelled my classes, my employer has asked us to work remotely and I’m unable to meet my and family and friends as frequently. The lack of planning and order is something I am struggling with. You see, I am an extreme planner. I love to schedule everything in, from work appointments to university classes. I usually have my entire month planned out, this helps me juggle my responsibilities of working and studying an MA full time. When I heard news of COVID-19, I was unaware of its direct impact on my day to day life. I didn’t realise how quickly it would force everything to change around me, and I was taken aback by its ability to grind London to a halt.
I spent days unmotivated, unsure of how to move forward. I neglected to focus on my studies, and often questioned whether it was worth it. I was unsure of whether I would be able to complete my MA, especially with the uncertainty of everything. My academic journey has always been an important aspect of my life. I graduated last year with a degree in Creative Writing. I then decided to proceed on to an MA. My degree enables me to pursue both my interests, Education and Creative Writing. I chose this degree as it allows me to understand the dynamics of being a Creative Writing educator. I cherish moments in the classroom, a safe space where I am able to learn and grow as a student and as an individual. Being able to workshop my work with my peers and my lecturers is a core part of my MA. The human interaction, the support and guidance is something I believed could only be created within the four walls of a building.
After I managed to log in, I was greeted by my lecturer. It felt weird, seeing him on a screen, rather than in person. However, as soon as we began our lesson, and I was joined by my peers, I began to settle in. In those few hours, we shared our work, moaned about how we’re coping and finally ended with reassuring each other about the weeks to come. We had agreed to share more work online and support each other. In that moment, I felt a blip of hope. I was reminded that I was not alone on this journey. Students all over the UK were dealing with the same uncertainty I was, some worried about GCSE exams, and other about university places. As a city, a country, as a generation we are being forced to adapt to changes daily, matters that instil stability in our daily lives such as education, healthcare, and family are changing and we are learning how to cope together.
It has been only a week since I have been studying remotely. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. The week began with scepticism, and worry that my studies would be impacted. However, as the week progressed, and as I gave my online classes a go, I felt a lot more relaxed. Although I do miss the classroom setting, I cannot deny that I have benefited from the classes which I joined online. They are not the same as my usual classes, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. I have appreciated the lengths my university and lecturers have gone to, to support us during our studies. Like us, they too are dealing with the uncertainty of what will unfold in the next couple of days, weeks, and months. Every decision they make is not taken lightly, and I feel reassured that I am able to reach out to them during this process. Although I haven’t been given all the answers, and I am still uncertain about many aspects of the coming weeks, I have adjusted to working and studying remotely. I do miss being around others, and I even secretly miss the rush of the rush hour, but have to come to accept that it will not last forever. It is OK to feel worried or anxious as we have been forced to slow down, to change the dynamics of our entire lives. As a student, I have learnt to work more independently and now have the unique experience of being taught solely via technology.
Now I do not dread my next online class, in fact I am looking forward to it. This time I will be prepared, with a better internet connection. And who knows, maybe even a cup of tea?