A Week in the Life: An MA Student in Lockdown - Sara Visan


View of a white memorial building in park next to pair of shoes on a wall

One year into the pandemic, one thing has become clear: life goes on. Although thinking back on my hopes for this stage of my life and the reality reveals a strange contrast; many things have changed for many people. However, I try to be aware of the fact that I am attempting to achieve a really big goal (doing a master’s!) thousands of kilometres away from everything I’ve known and with almost no close interaction with another human being. And at the end of the day, I hope that when I look back on my experiences right now, I’ll see them for the enriching and important phases that they are. In the end, life is what you make it. Here’s what I make of a week: 

  • Mondays this term mean my 10 a.m. Contemporary Gothic class. Early classes are a bit hard on me, especially because I have yet to get used to gloomy English weather, but it is a module that I deeply enjoy, and coffee solves everything (and yes, I do have a terrible caffeine addiction). 
  • Each week, we read a novel and watch a movie (or a TV show episode) that fits a general gothic theme, and then meet in our synchronous seminars and discuss them: all my colleagues are very involved and the professor is obviously passionate, so I’m enjoying it every single time. 
  • Around 1 p.m., as I’m eating breakfast, my friend Vanessa calls me and together we each practice our Duolingo languages of choice (Spanish for me, German for her). 

  

 I am convinced me and the Duolingo bear are the same person 

  •  I’ve been doing that a lot actually: sitting on video calls, muted, with friends as each of us is being productive in different parts of the world. With a bit of imagination, we can almost pretend we’re back in a library together, and it’s quite effective (Pavlov’s dogs, all of us). 
  • Tuesday is slow, mainly because Moodle (our virtual learning platform) was down for maintenance, so most of my plans got hijacked. 
  • So instead, I went to the post office, dropping an envelope off for some papers (#immigrantlife) and because I put on actual trousers, I also decided to take a walk through Williamson Park: a sunny day is never to be missed!
  • The only academically productive feat that I manage was to watch a 40 minute lecture. 
  •  Another 10 a.m. class on Wednesday, this time the dissertation module, which is always useful especially because the UK does things differently from how I’ve known them during my undergraduate degree. It’s filled with tips on how to go about scheduling the weeks left of my degree, places to find resources and just general discussions about being a Sociology scholar. 
  • The rest of the day is generally spent on preparing for one of my other classes: Researching Migration. The pre-recorded lecture comes to around an hour total, and I have two mandatory readings as well. English is not my native language, and I’m sure it takes me a bit longer to read through these than it would some other people. Yet as an international student myself – and with my fair share of friends and relatives living all across the world, migration is something that I am very much interested in.  
  • I’m pretty sure since the pandemic started, everyone found something they cannot stop themselves from ordering online and for me, that’s books – I’m on a hunt to own all the books by my favourite author, Jeanette Winterson, and I love buying second hand whenever I can.

 

  • I feel like my grasp on time was foggy enough as a student during normal circumstances: a year counted in weeks, holidays counted in deadlines. Add a global pandemic onto it, and I’m not sure I believe in time, even as a social construct. The days just fade a bit one into another. 
  • But at least I know what I need to do: I prepare for my Gender, Sex and Bodies class, another hour long lecture, and although the mandatory reading is always only one article or essay, I like to read as many of them as I can get through, because the topics are very important – something I’d be interested to know more of even outside of university, and all the more exciting to do so within academia (my classmates can attest I never shut up). 
  • TikTok is a girl’s best friend in the middle of a pandemic, so that’s what most of my evenings consist of these days. 
  • Morning classes again, same coffee addiction 
  • From 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. I have my two synchronous workshop for Bodies, Sex and Gender and Researching Migration. However, by the time I am done, I suffer from Microsoft Teams fatigue, so the rest of the day is always set aside for relaxing. 
  • Nowadays, that takes the form of waiting for my friend Nashaly to get back home from work so we can watch the newest episode of Wandavision together, discuss theories and share funny tweets for way too many hours afterwards (yep, obsessed alright).

 

  • The weekend is not real, whatever anyone tries to convince me: it passes in a daze of domestic chores and family video calls. 
  • Because I procrastinate a bit too much (#studentlife), my weekly book for Monday is always postponed until the last minute, even as I complain about not getting things done with my housemate while we cook together. But Sundays always feel never-ending, even when I accidentally read for 6 hours and watch an entire movie. 

My ‘best’ looks different every single day – or every couple of days, really. And that is totally okay. At the end of the day, what matters most is that I am still trying. When I eventually (hopefully) graduate, it’ll be with a sense of pride to have done it through this situation. 

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