As university students, returning to in-person learning this month has involved a great amount of change and emotions. For many, this is an experience we will cherish and appreciate more than ever before. I’m not an expert on returning to in-person school after a global pandemic, but I have gathered some tips and reminders that will be helpful for both new and returning university students.
- Create a new routine
When COVID-19 entered our lives two years ago, we were forced to establish a routine that would assist in conquering online learning. For many university students, this routine involved watching lectures and doing assignments in our bedroom for very long and repetitive hours. Returning to in-person learning means our time management skills will be tested extensively, especially since our days will involve leaving the house, traveling to and from campus, and the never-ending struggle of finding the perfect study spot. Establishing a new routine that you love might take time, so don’t feel discouraged if you have trouble getting into your groove.
- Prepare snacks and meals
Some students might argue that a benefit of online learning is the easy access to snacks and meals at all times of the day, even during online lectures. Returning to campus means the Starbucks line will be longer than ever before. But let’s be real, while an iced coffee is yummy, it isn’t a real meal. But don’t stress, your food doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple fruit bowl, pasta salad, or sandwich is easy to plan so you never have to fear your stomach rumbling during a test!
- Prioritize your mental health
Pandemic and school fatigue are bound to happen, especially since our social interaction and physical movement will intensify. Whether it’s taking a nap, watching television, working out, or reading a book, both your body and mind need time to relax. Don’t feel guilty for needing to recharge your social battery, it’s completely normal (and necessary). As well, there are many support services that McMaster University offers to help guide students during this transition. Examples include MSU Peer Support Services and the Student Wellness Centre.
- (Re)Introduce yourself to classmates
Although online lectures have allowed us to keep learning during COVID, it has made us extremely comfortable hiding behind a screen, which makes it difficult to form real connections with classmates and professors. When attending in-person classes, be sure to introduce or re-introduce yourself. This will help you ease into classroom learning and can even lead to new friendships. If you’re feeling awkward or terrified to make the first move, just remember everyone is experiencing the same situation as you and also want to make new friends.
- Get involved and have fun
Many campus clubs or organizations may be offering new gatherings or positions during this re-opening phase. McMaster currently offers over 350 clubs and student groups, so this is a time to immerse yourself in campus life while also finding people who enjoy the same passions and activities as you. Whether you’re a new or returning student, it’s never too late to make unforgettable memories. To learn more about McMaster clubs and events, visit the Club Directory and follow @msucampusevents on Instagram.
Don’t forget this experience is new for everyone, including your professors. There is no rulebook or manual to prepare students for how to return to in-person learning after an extensive and unfamiliar global pandemic. Do what is best for you and take this adjustment day by day.