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The Reality Of Taking Online Classes

Most people by now have had updates from their jobs or schools about shifting onto online classes or working from home due to the coronavirus now spreading to a lot more countries than it was in just a few weeks ago. A lot of people however aren't able to WFH, and my heart really goes out to all of you if this is the case. However for people who now have to study or work online, it's a big change that even I wasn't ready for when our classes shifted online.

I've never taken an online class before; GCSEs and A-Levels were all done in person obviously, and during the first year of uni and first semester of med school, everything was done in the classroom. But for the second semester of med school, we started our online classes here on the 17th of February, so it's already been over a month of bad internet connections and jumbled schedules.

I always naively thought that for people who take online classes, it must be easier than people who get up and leave the house because you get up and just turn on your laptop, but boy was I wrong!

It's just as tough and rigorous as going into uni, and then there's the added element of having to motivate yourself to actually wake up in the morning to listen in on the lecture. The hardest part for me has actually been having too much time in the day. Our lab classes are now free periods and there's around 6 extra hours a week that normally would have been taken up by biochem, anatomy, and physiology lab. I'm someone who likes to have a schedule and routine. Now it's up to me to fill in these empty spaces, and in the beginning it was quite difficult to know what to focus on. To curb this, I've been using the calendar blocking technique, and a blog post will be published next week!

So since there are a lot of first-time online class takers now, I thought I'd share some tips I've picked up over the last month on how to make the most of it. This post isn't directed towards people with jobs that they used to go into everyday, as I don't know how each company is tackling this, but it's specifically for students like me!

I made a routine for myself early on because I knew that this would seriously help me out in the long run. I use the calendar blocking technique to keep track of when I'm going to wake up, study, have class, do homework, work on the blog etc, and I do this all with the standard Samsung calendar that came with my phone. A routine has been vital to make sure I don't fall behind on anything (we'll all have to go back some day!), and vital in making sure I don't spend all day on one thing - or nothing for that matter!

My current routine looks like this; wake up at 7am, scroll through my phone, eat, and start studying by 8am. I have class at 2:30 in the afternoon, and 10am in the morning sometimes, and the last class will end at half 5 in the evening, so in between all of this, I'll shower,study, clean, eat, or just scroll through social media. I study until 9 in the evening, then just chill until I feel tired enough to go to sleep.

I would suggest getting a morning routine underway as soon as possible and try to stick to it. I have a blog post on some healthy and productive habits you could adopt as part of your new routine, and I went back to it when our classes shifted online.

I like doing this to get a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, and so there's always something tangible to work towards. Each night I make a list of small goals I want to accomplish the next day - how many flashcards I want to make or go through, or which chapters I want to get through for example. I think it's especially important now that things are online because you're having to motivate yourself and keep yourself accountable. 

It's also really motivating to have something to work towards, which is another bonus because like I said above, it was quite tough for me in the beginning.

Being indoors all day really makes you realise just how much time there is in the day. Because of this you may begin to feel like you should be doing more with yourself but I don't agree with this because it will definitely lead to burnout. I stop studying at 9pm at night, "switch off", and spend some time doing something enjoyable like finally indulging on going on my phone guilt-free. It's important to still treat your days like a regular school day because when it's time to get back to class (hopefully sooner rather than later), the transition won't be so harsh.

We're all going through this together - student and teacher alike - so it's important to be patient with everyone right now. For a lot of teachers (especially mine), they haven't taught online before so it's a learning experience for them, just as much as it is for us. I remember in the beginning it was easy to become frustrated because we all hadn't used the online platforms we're all experts on now. Everything has changed in a short space of time so if you extend a bit of kindness to your teachers, it could really go a long way.

Don't be so hard on yourself and don't feel like you have to do more than you really have to. Work at your own pace and leave enough time to do "real life" stuff. As a medical student, it was tough to squeeze all of the stuff I'm able to do now, like do laundry, video call my parents for as long as I choose now, cook (it's been amazing cooking for myself again!), and even work on the blog! Honestly speaking, if it wasn't for us not being allowed out, I probably wouldn't have gotten my blogging mojo back.

So take this time to yes, still be productive and work towards goals everyday, but to also give yourself some time do to other things again. Take it one day at a time and don't force yourself to become a productivity machine overnight.

I hope everyone manages to stay safe and happy at a time like this. The news is a lot to take in everyday, what with numbers always increasing and the outcome in a lot of countries looking really bleak at the moment. I'm glad the situation in China is improving - currently my province and the city of Chongqing have no new cases reported, and a lot of the temporary hospitals in Wuhan are now closed, with a lot the doctors who came from other provinces now able to go back home to their families.

If you're able to self-isolate please do, because it only takes one person to catch it and spread it to someone else (a lot more people are asymptomatic spreaders than we think - check out this article on CNN) and there are a lot of at-risk people out there. 

Again, please stay healthy and I'll see you in the next one!

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