2020 has been a year of much much unexpected occurrences, with the radical change in the way we interact with one another to the way we conduct our daily activities, we have had to adapt to the current situation we are living in. The University of Aberdeen was not impervious to this, and today I would like to share how they have adjusted to our new-found reality and my personal experience with it all.
This year was one I was looking forward to ever since I embarked on my law career journey in 2017, the year of my graduation, when I obtained my LLB in Law with Business Studies at the University of Birmingham. Little did I know that COVID-19 would not only impede it commencing, but that it would redefine my whole academic experience. When I applied for my undergraduate studies, I started my first year on campus. However, the first year of my postgraduate studies at the University of Aberdeen has been purely online, as I am studying remotely from my home country – Mozambique.
It began with a very beneficial online orientation which lasted a week, where we had information sessions about our departments, Q&A’s for specific programmes, team building and an introduction to our supervisors. Watching the lectures online per se was not a novel concept for me because at my previous University all the lectures were recorded and posted online via Panopto so we could later refer to them, but I was apprehensive about the reading materials and how I would be able to access them. To my relief, the University equipped itself to provide us with all the content we would need for our degree through their online database, Primo. In my particular course, an LLM in Oil and Gas Law, all our lectures are pre-recorded and posted on Blackboard Collaborate, and the reading materials are provided early in the week to be read at our earliest convenience, so we can later analyse and discuss everything in our interactive online seminars. Additionally, the lecturers were extremely attentive, with a comprehensive approach from the outset, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of each learner.
Another worry I had was in relation to the social aspect of University life. How was I going to meet and interact with my colleagues from miles away? Did this mean that this year all I would get was knowledge and no new friendships? But once again, the department took this into consideration and set up the ‘Keep Connected - LLM well-being, information and social time’ which is an online meeting that happens on Microsoft Teams on Friday afternoons and is a way for students to get to know each other, socialise and share information. There are also many extracurricular activities to participate in, such as the ‘Employability Boost Award’ or the ‘Leadership Academy’ and many Law related ventures such as ‘AU Lawyers without Borders’ and the ‘Aberdeen Student Law Review’.
In conclusion, despite all the restrictions this pandemic has brought into our lives, it is quite evident that the staff, lecturers and even students have been doing their best to ensure that most aspects of what a University experience entails remains intact, and I am very proud to be a part of this community.