18 November 2020

Covid-19 has changed the way we do so many things: shopping for groceries, attending international conferences, and even getting married. I (and many others) decided to do a Master's degree at the University of Edinburgh during the pandemic for my own personal reasons. 2020 is a year unlike any other, so I'd like to share some of the things I've learnt so far as a "pandemic postgraduate".
5 Things I've Learnt Doing a Master's Degree During a Pandemic

1. Time Management is Key

Arifah Badlishah with computer

I cannot stress how important it is to practice discipline when it comes to your studies, especially with hybrid learning. Personally, I find it much easier to attend face-to-face sessions on campus at fixed times, rather than blocking time out of my day to watch pre-recorded material.

Therefore, I've had to organise my time well. I use my Calendar app several times a day to schedule lectures, tutorials, and events. There are also several apps such as Forest and Hold to make sure you stay focused on work, and do not end up scrolling on your social media feed. In fact, you should even pencil in time for relaxing, such as calling your family or meditating.

Get Enough Social Interaction

In 2020, most of us have realised that human engagement is so important for our wellbeing. Being a master's student is quite hectic, but if you live with flatmates or family members, try to do at least one or two activities together every week. Might I suggest baking or enjoying a movie?

Even if you can't have face-to-face interaction, you could always video call a loved one to experience that human touch. If you're lucky enough to still have grandparents, I'm sure they'd appreciate seeing your face, even through a screen!

3. Communication With Course Mates Can Be a Lifesaver

While lecturers and university staff are always there to support you, sometimes you might be more comfortable directing certain queries or concerns to your peers. The Business School has WhatsApp groups for all its Masters' programmes for easy communication with your course mates.

Studying by yourself can be isolating, and it’s important to know that you’re not in this alone. One friend messaged me when she was stuck on an assignment, and after I gave her my insights, she was so relieved.

My MSc Marketing course mates even initiated a Zoom session to discuss a topic we had trouble understanding, and many of us follow each other on social media. I feel like we have bonded quite a bit over the past two months, even though some of us are yet to meet in person!

4. Don't Be a Couch Potato

Arifah Badlishah

Since a lot of things we do are now online, it can be very easy to just sit around all day without much rigorous movement. Take better care of your physical and mental health by exercising! Edinburgh has a lot of green spaces, to make the most of it.

Definitely make sure to take some time away from your desk. Get some fresh air by jogging, or have a Zumba session with your flatmate. I also just found out that the University does live streams of exercise classes almost every weekday, which is super cool. Check out the other ways the University supports student health and wellbeing, too.

5. Have Lots of Patience

It's everyone's first time going through a pandemic, so do your best to be kind and understanding of others. There will absolutely be connection issues and technical errors, so be patient while bearing with it. If you're involved in virtual group work, respect your group mates by being punctual and doing your part.

The University is there to support you and are trying their best to ensure that students are happy. But if you're not, you're always welcome to give feedback by either contacting staff or your programme rep.

I hope these tips are useful to fellow students who are trying to make it through the pandemic. Don't forget to stay updated with the University of Edinburgh's Covid 19 Updates.

Arifah on a walk

Arifah Badlishah is a student on the MSc in Marketing programme.