2020 will definitely stay in my memories forever. My first semester at the University of Aberdeen, although unusual, was very enjoyable and enriching given the circumstances. I had a class on campus every two weeks, and the libraries were open for students to study in. It was a nice change of scenery from our apartments. All the more, as law students, we also had the chance to have the Taylor Library, the University of Aberdeen’s specialist law library, opened for us. The Covid safety measures put in place were impressive, easy to understand and follow.
However, as the winter break approached, I felt a little bit melancholic. All my flights home to see my family for Christmas were cancelled one after the other. It put me under much stress. I still managed to find a flight and booked two Covid-19 tests at the University of Aberdeen. Indeed, the University has opened a test facility at the Butchart Centre, which offers all asymptomatic students and workers antigenic tests free of charge, which was incredibly useful and reassuring. However, the evening before my departure, my flight was cancelled owing to the temporary border closure between the United Kingdom and France. Consequently, I stayed in Aberdeen over the winter break. I will not lie: it was a difficult period, and I felt very lonely. But the University offered a lot of support, and the online ‘Keep Connected’ sessions were maintained over the break so that we could still socialise and spend entertaining evenings together.
Nevertheless, I took an important decision at this moment: I decided to move back home, to France, for the remainder of the year. It was a tough choice, but as I sensed a new lockdown approaching, I knew that I would be happier and more comforted if I could, at least, live with my family. Moreover, seeing how well the University was organised for remote study in the first semester, I was not afraid of being lost in my studies. I, therefore, booked two new Covid-19 tests at the University, plus a PCR one in Folkestone right before crossing the border. It was a long journey I made as safely as possible, following the government’s guidance which authorised travelling in connection with moving homes at that time. I arrived in France at the end of January, observed a self-isolation period, and then started my second semester from there.
It took some time to adjust to a new work environment, but everything went smoothly. My two new courses started, and they are fascinating. All the classes are delivered online, the seminars too. They are well organised, and I feel like with time the University has significantly improved on remote study. According to me, the set-up was already working well in the first semester, but it is now optimal. All the material needed is available online. The Professors and the library staff have worked very hard to provide us with all the necessary readings. I am very thankful for that.
There are now two ‘Keep Connected’ sessions per week: one on Wednesdays and one on Fridays. The Orientation Week also enabled us to meet the new January students, and it was nice to make new acquaintances. Therefore, even though I am now hundreds of miles away from the University, I still feel deeply part of it. Even though this year is unlike any other, I am glad that I took the decision to join the University of Aberdeen. It is absolutely worth it.
This semester we were studying online only so far. I attend two virtual classes every second week. Both courses are assessed by essays only. I am going to write five essays - two of them are due on the same date. This can be quite stressful and requires good self-management skills. Luckily, one of my Professors offers additional discussion sessions every second week to ask questions. I spend most of the time at my desk reading complex articles and, of course, writing essays. When I need a change of scene, I study in the Sir Duncan Rice Library. There you can collect the books from the University’s libraries which you have requested via Primo (‘Click & Collect Service’). The Click & Collect Service is quite handy in case the item is not available online. Usually, I could collect the book within a day or read it in the library if not borrowable. However, all essential readings were freely accessible online via Primo (or Google Scholar). I feel I can easily access the required resources.
Do not forget to enjoy your life. Due to the limited possibilities caused by the lockdown, it is not always easy to find the right balance between studying and living (online). I appreciate having more time for those things I sometimes used to skip before the pandemic. For example, I enjoy reading my favourite books, cooking various dishes, listening to new types of music, and joining yoga classes held online by the Yoga Society. I also meet my friends, family, and classmates regularly online to stay connected. To free my mind, I love running at the beach in the early mornings. My recommendation for those living in Aberdeen is to enjoy at least one of the beautiful sunrises at the beach.