As someone who’s been attending the University of Guelph for a few years now and having done my fair share of online schooling, I will share with you some tips that I find help me make it through my semester!
1. Plan out a schedule, but be flexible.
I see a lot of people suggesting to make up a schedule and ensure that you stick to it. I do think that is definitely important to help motivate you to do your studies, especially if you’re someone who tends to find ways to procrastinate outside of a schedule. However, I think it’s also important to have an open mind and have a flexible schedule, as sometimes online classes can take less or even more time than you’ve anticipated. For this reason, I have dedicated sections in my agenda where I will write “free” (which is not the same as “leisure time”). It’s a section where I will pencil in what needs to be done for work, school, or just overall chores that need to get done when I get a closer idea of my revised timeframe by the end of the day.
2. Make sure to dedicate time to socialize with others
Whether that socializing is done through Facetime, mandatory lab sections, or meeting up with friends (while complying with the mandatory COVID-19 rules at your location at the given time), this is something that should not be neglected. I found out that a lot of my friends, including myself, would burn-out much faster when we would go weeks without talking to one another than if we had regular conversations, especially when the pandemic first started and we were learning to navigate our way around the novel situation. As it will be much more difficult to socialize this fall with most of the classes at the University of Guelph being offered online, make sure to stay in touch with your friends!
3. Set up an effective (but enjoyable) workspace!
While there’s nothing more important than having a space where you can work in an environment that works best for you, making sure that it is personalized helps motivate me. I’m someone that has a hard time working at a barren desk. I love to have trinkets, postcards, and pictures displayed on my desk, especially when I spend a lot of time absorbing heavy school material. When I glance up from my work, I’m able to reminisce on happy memories, and see the smiling face of those that I love - and looking at pictures of my cat. Make sure to have a workspace that makes you feel comfortable to work at for extended periods of time and that you’re respecting some healthy desk ergonomics in order to keep your body healthy!
4. Plan some new meals!
The one thing that COVID-19 has allowed me to do is try new recipes, or refine those that I’ve been making over the past few years. As we students get to spend more time at home and have to commute much less often, this frees up some time in order to try some new dishes! (Also, let’s face it – this means we’ll also get less temptation to just stop at the UC to grab a slice of pizza to eat while waiting for your bus). Some of my personal favourite recipes that I recommend students try to make that are healthy and quick are congee, pickle soup, tamago kake gohan, bibimbap, and savory crepes.
5. Visit some student-friendly locations in Guelph for a change in scenery
If you are in Guelph for your fall semester, there are a few locations that I recommend you visit for a change of pace. These can be visited solo, or with a small group while following COVID regulations and remaining safe. Some of the locations that I recommend are:
Having a stroll at the Arboretum;
Getting yourself an ice cream at the Boathouse Tea Room;
Eating at Earth to Table Bread Bar (amazing food and menu that changes according to the season!);
Visit the Kitty Café;
Visit the Donkey Sanctuary;
Shop at the Guelph Farmer’s Market and support local businesses;
Visit our university’s Art Museum
6. Join online groups to keep in touch
While most classes are offered in a distance-education and modified format for the semester, it’s important to stay in touch with your friends and your classmates. I recommend joining class groups and participating in discussions. This will not only help prevent you from feeling lonely, but will help you enhance your studies. It’s still important to remember to follow the university’s policies when using social media online for school purposes, so keep that in mind! For example, my lab group and I have created a Facebook group chat so that we can support one another instead of having to continuously meet up to complete our various vet school assignments. But, we’re also using it to have a good laugh and send veterinary related memes!
Good luck throughout your fall semester everyone, and stay safe!