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How To: Navigate In-Person Teaching

Thankfully, our time with old pal COVID seems to be behind us. This paves the path for a new way of uni life for second and third years, and a chance for fourth years to be reminded (that after almost half a decade) they are, in fact, still students. 

There is now a mass exodus from the streets of Newington to New Town as we students leave the confines of our flats and venture out into the big wide world. The reality is that many of us don’t actually know most of the buildings on campus, and it is only now one may question why their business lecture is in the Archaeology department. The excitement of a fresh start is slightly dampened by these early morning mind games. 

After wandering around like a lost lamb, even though you’re in third year now, you come to the realisation that post-COVID Edinburgh is basically the same as the year abroad you ‘accidentally’ missed the deadline to apply for. At this point, you may choose to cut your losses, skip your first lecture of the day and head straight to lunch. 

Unfortunately, lunch time may not be the pick-me-up you had imagined. After enduring the queue that bends out the door at Picnic Basket, you still manage to panic when it’s your turn at the front and ask one of the wonderful ladies behind the counter to serve up whatever they recommend. Risky behaviour such as this means you end up with a meat medley panini instead of a *pescatarian* friendly wrap.  

For those who don’t have the luxury of a memorised, ‘usual’ order at a chosen sandwich shop, the Tesco meal deal is the answer to your prayers. However, on particularly busy days on campus, it would seem everyone and their nan shared this bright idea of yours. You arrive to select said ‘main meal + snack + drink’, to find only a depressing egg and cress sandwich and a gaping hole where the Diet Cokes should be. As if by magic, you remember that your snack choice also includes the pastry section, where a reviving pain au chocolat awaits you. 

Next on the agenda, a brisk skip on over to Appleton Tower to eat said tasty treat. Unlike last year, a game of musical chairs has been played and you my friend have definitely not come out on top – in this new age of in-person teaching, never has a rock-hard red seat been such a hot commodity. 

After navigating that minefield, academia finally begins. The flexibility of elective modules is not so rosy when you clock you are the only third-year on a first-year module. As you queue outside the lecture theatre, you get approached by a friendly fresher looking to build a bridge. Whilst I have never considered age as a criteria for my friendships, any hint of small talk can take one back to the fresher’s dilemma of a constantly drained social battery fuelled by FOMO. Before you know it, you’ve found yourself on the phone to a flatmate, spewing ‘adulting’ nonsense about council tax to divert a lovely fresher from wasting their precious energy. 

Welcome to a new world, filled with; real-life people in lecture halls, the stressful pitter patter of typing on keyboards, and awkward silences you can’t leave a ‘Teams’ meeting to escape. 

Photo credit: The Meadows” by Billy Wilson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.