I went home due to Tier Three restrictions and honestly, it’s so much better

Good bye to the omnishambles of blended learning

It’s fair to say that this year of university isn’t what I thought it was going to be. I understand that it can’t be normal at the moment and I know I’m being dramatic when in saying this but the moment I checked my timetable and saw that I had nine in person contact hours this term, my heart broke in two.

Despite this I thought I could go on as long as I could socialise, go out with my house for a few drinks, even if we had to be sat down on a night out and leave by 10pm, I was determined that I was going to make the most of my final Michaelmas term at Lancaster University. Then Tier Three happened. Tier Three makes it next to impossible to enjoy being in Lancaster at the moment. The day that announcement was made, I broke down on the phone to my parents and reached the decision to move back home, hopefully only until the new year.

I’ve only experienced doing university from home for a week but so far, it’s so much better.

Online Learning

First of all let’s talk about lectures. All lectures are recorded this term so there’s no real difference in the experience between watching a recorded lecture at home and being in my uni house. It’s the same thing but in a slightly nicer location where I don’t have to pay for the heating, hence the main difference I’ve noticed being that I no longer resemble a duvet burrito, trying to pay attention to my lecturer telling me about the expansion of the Roman Empire but being mainly focused on my feet which are slowly but surely turning into blocks of ice.

I just don’t feel guilty having the heating on at home, to be completely honest. After all, “Winter is Coming.”

In terms of seminars, they’re the same, awkward and more of an out of body experience than actual university. Originally I only had nine hours of in-person teaching, three of which were in week two and I’ve already been to.

These in person seminars were socially distanced and awkward. No one could really hear what anyone was saying and those people that couldn’t be on campus were able to join via Teams anyway, so the question of why I even bothered to attend did pop into my mind. But those that did join via Teams couldn’t hear what was going on so at least 20 minutes of those seminars were dedicated to technical issues and not the people who had decided to show up in person.

The seminars that I have that are still planned to be in person this term provide an online alternative, and from the previous experience of watching people on Teams whilst I was in person, I assume I’m probably going to be under less pressure to actually contribute. Something I didn’t expect with the Teams seminars I have experienced at home, is that I have found myself getting involved more in the seminar because I was aware my parents could see me during it and wanted them to maintain the illusion that I’ve created that I am an active participant in the university experience.

Family v Friends

I am aware that I’m fortunate because I live in Durham so going from Lancaster to Durham means that I’ve shifted from Tier Three to Tier Two, a little difference like that does go a long way. I understand that I’m leaving my friends at university who are a pivotal part of my university life and by leaving them I’m leaving behind weekly takeaways, Bake Off debates and drinking profusely – which I will miss and is one of the downsides of going home.

However, in going home I’m able to be with my family, which is a privilege I’m aware not everyone has and therefore am not taking advantage of the fact. Also in going home, I’m able to meet up with different households, even if it’s outdoors, meaning I’m not being low-key institutionalised in university housing. I think we can all agree that the same four walls with the same people, day in, day out can drive you slowly insane and by going home I’ve been provided with the break that I think was necessary. I’ve had a grand total of zero emotional breakdowns being home and doing university online which I think speaks volumes for itself.

So overall my experience going from blended learning at Lancaster compared to at home with everything online is a positive one. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my daily walks to Williamson Park, taking in the views of political graffiti and being 10 minutes away from Greggs, I even miss the surreal bus journey to campus and having the library tannoy scare the hell out of me every hour.

I’m also aware I no longer have easy access to the uni library and don’t get to see the ducks on campus; but to quote Hannah Montana, I’m living the best of both worlds, being at home right now might not be for everyone but it’s definitely for me and if Tier Three is getting you down and the option to be in a better space mentally is by being at home, I would highly recommend doing so.

So for now, Lancaster, I won’t say good bye just yet. But maybe farewell, for the time being. Miss you x

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Driving on Google Maps and guess the rock: Life on a Lancaster Uni virtual field trip

Our guide to the best spots in Lancs – despite the end of the world

‘I don’t really see a point in staying here’: How students feel moving into Tier Three