Case study

Undergraduate student — Megan Murphy

Megan is a final year Radio and Audio student at the University of Bedfordshire. Here she talks about her experience studying from home during the coronavirus lockdown

When lockdown restrictions were announced how did you feel about studying from home?

I moved back home to Jersey before the hard lockdown occurred, because once they shut down airports and boarders I would have no way of getting home. I was nervous, but part of me was excited to go back home, as I hadn't seen my parents since Christmas.

What was your study set up like?

As my course is very practical I had no access to typical equipment (radio studios/microphones/editing software) as I was off campus.

However, this lack of access allowed me to find alternatives, which could produce nearly-as-good quality audio that rarely gave me any issues. I'm grateful that I was able to discover more outlets and services to create my work - I will definitely be continuing to use these once we go back to normal.

How many hours did you put in per day?

I would say roughly three hours a day. Some days more, some days less if the situation was overwhelming.

How did you access resources like the library?

Luckily a lot of the books I needed to access had e-copies available, which I accessed through the university's online library portal.

What were the benefits of studying at home?

I had access to home comforts when I started to feel stressed. This was mainly my dogs, who loved all the extra attention.

What were the challenges?

I found adjusting to living at home with the whole family more difficult than I anticipated. Also, the fact that I couldn't just leave the house to clear my head added to my stress levels. It was also a challenge sharing the (very poor) wifi with five people, including three students and two parents, all studying or working from home.

Why did you decide to get a job during lockdown?

During lockdown, the catering company I normally work for over the summer started doing a home delivery service. I was craving a sense of normality and going back to work was what I needed. Returning to work also helped with my mental health. I really struggled with being in the house, not being able to go for a walk, pop to the shops or see my friends. Keeping in touch online worked to a certain extent, but it doesn't compare to talking in person.

What did your delivery job involve?

I had to prepare some of the food myself (salads/desserts/cold-based starters) and ensure all the orders were packed correctly in the kitchen before they left the restaurant. I also delivered the food to people's homes, which at times was stressful if I couldn't find the house.

How did you balance work and study?

Thankfully, the hours I worked were almost always in the evenings. This allowed me to focus on my studies during the day, attend lectures and complete my assignments. This added some structure to my day and helped me meet the targets I set for myself.

What support did you receive from your university during lockdown?

We had a lot of emails explaining what was happening and how our new online teaching schedule would work.

I was also appreciative of extensions for our assignments, as I struggled some days to even get out of bed, let alone do my university work. Knowing that I had extra time to complete my work helped calm me down in stressful times.

How do you feel you’ve coped with the changes the pandemic has brought about?

At first I struggled adapting to this new way of life. I felt sad and unmotivated. However, I started some new hobbies (including baking, which was fun) and this helped my mental health massively. It became easier to complete my university work once I figured out how to distract myself from everything that was going on around me.

How do you feel about returning to campus?

I am both excited and nervous to return to campus. Nervous in the sense that we are still in the midst of a pandemic but I know that we will be well protected, through wearing masks and one-way systems in each building.

I am also excited to return to university to see my friends and to start to feel normal again.

What are your top tips for studying at home?

  • Find somewhere quiet to study - Avoid your bedroom. If you have an extra space use it to separate your work and relaxation times.
  • Stop working at regular intervals - Remember to take breaks to eat, move around and have a conversion with someone.
  • Remember its okay to have an off day - I was always beating myself up over this, but some days you just need to relax and reset.
  • Send emails if you need help - I sometimes found myself struggling through not having access to certain materials, but your lecturers are there to help you in these crazy times.
  • Drink lots of tea - Or coffee if you prefer. Often my favourite part of studying from home was my mum bringing me a cup of tea every hour. It helped me to relax when I felt overwhelmed.

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