The Student
A collage of the UN building in Geneva and a girl sitting at her computer with her hands over her eyes
Features
A day in the life … of an IR student
by Emma Hunt, 23/03/21

I’m deeply envious of 14-year-old me’s ability to spend entire days staring at my computer playing video games, because I’ve been on my laptop for ten consecutive hours today in meetings and I can feel my brain melting.

The day started with my first tutorial at 11am. My expectations were pretty low for attendance for this one, given it’s the same week as our assignment was due, but almost the entire class actually turned up. Maybe it’s because the course has a 15% participation grade, but people seem to actually be willing to talk, which is always a pleasant surprise.

After that, I’m straight into my second tutorial of the day, which couldn’t have been more different. Where the first class had achieved a collective agreement to have cameras on, the second tutorial was all cameras-off, and the awkward silences were so much worse than they’d have been in real life.

I managed to step away from my laptop for twenty minute to run to the shop for lunch, but then I’m back on Zoom at 13:30 for Welsh class. This is a source of great amusement to my friends. I’m the youngest there by a substantial margin, but we get on really well as a class. Even though we’ve never actually met, we’ve still divided into little cliques – mine is me, an ecologist and a primary school teacher, and we’re the ones who generally end up in a breakout room together asking “Wait, what are we supposed to do?”

I’d hoped to be able to take a break from my laptop again before my next meeting, but sadly that wasn’t to be. As much as it doesn’t feel like week 6 right now, it’s the beginning of society AGM season, and for me that started with the Bedlam AGM. I was quite sceptical going in about how well an AGM would run online, but our Chair did a great job of trying to keep all of us to task, in spite of all of our best efforts to derail the conversation in the chat. 

It reaches half past six, and though the AGM is still far from finished (I’m later told that the call doesn’t finish until 8pm), I have to leave for my final consecutive zoom call of the day. With Covid, the training we’re doing at Edinburgh Officer Training Corps has had to move entirely online, and tonight we’ve got a variety of guest speakers in the call to talk about their careers after leaving the OTC. It’s a very interesting night, but by that point I’ve been staring at my computer screen for eight hours, and my eyes are starting to strain.

I finally manage to turn off my laptop at 21:30. Even though most of my calls today have not been for my degree, I’m still feeling mentally exhausted. Somehow, even though my phone says I’ve only done 1,500 steps today, I’m even more exhausted than if I’d been running around Edinburgh all day.

Image: Rufus Lee-Browne