• The Mentorship Spot

Post-COVID Reflection: Entering 3rd Year

By: Maisha Alam


This article is part of a series of reflections by our team on their experiences during the pandemic. Maisha Alam, president of The Mentorship Spot, will start us off with her journey of undergoing university through a pandemic. She is currently entering 3rd year of the HBA program at Western University.


Academics

I think the main effect the pandemic had on my studying in general was my inability to focus for longer periods of time. I was always someone who got distracted when studying, but I saw that this got a lot worse during the pandemic. I had to work harder to focus longer, and that’s when I discovered the Pomodoro technique, which helped me out a lot!


Truthfully, my learning experience improved quite a bit when learning online. I found myself more comfortable when learning, which in turn made the learning more comfortable for me. Also, being able to replay and slow down/speed up lectures was a huge plus - it gave me the ability to learn at my own pace and how I liked! This is something I wish I had in person.



Extracurriculars

I feel like the biggest change with extracurriculars is that everyone shifts online, and the change was very quick! With the clubs I was still a part of (with it being my senior year in high school), we had to just move events and hiring online, which was a big change. However, this transition helped me to become more comfortable with using online communication applications, like Zoom, and getting used to online etiquette.


In terms of finding opportunities, I wouldn't say that it was harder to find opportunities, but actually a lot easier! In high school, you are limited to the clubs within your school, and possibly your area. With everything moving online, I found myself learning about opportunities across the province, and the rest of Canada. I researched clubs and organized through Instagram, student Facebook groups, and by seeing others posts on Linkedin. This is in fact, how I discovered The Mentorship Spot and joined the team in August of 2020!


I found that I liked some aspects of online clubs, such as meetings, but I really missed in person events, especially for fundraising and cultural events. This is the hardest part of doing extracurriculars online - not being able to actually interact with others. Although events online were still fun, it was hard to reach the same level of engagement as an in person event.



Mental Health + Wellbeing

I am very grateful to say that my mental health was not affected very greatly, for the most part at least. I was very thankful because I was surrounded by my family during the peak of quarantine, and luckily my grandparents had arrived in Canada on March11th to visit, so we were able to spend time in quarantine with them. Although it was very nice to have them, living with seniors meant we had to be twice as careful going about our lives.


We lived a very restricted life, and would hardly go outside, except the grocery store. At times I would feel very bored, and somewhat sad, because I saw others going out with their family to parks, but


I think one thing that really helped distract me from the craziness of the pandemic and general stress was diving deeper into art and music. I was always interested in those, but never really got the time to explore those hobbies. I began to watch art videos, and bought several art supplies with some money I had saved up. Near the end of summer 2020, I found myself painting almost everyday, and had filled up the sketchbook I had purchased!


I think getting into art, and listening to more artists was a really nice way to focus on something other than news about the pandemic, and really helped to keep my mental health in check. Another thing I did was make lots of new dishes. Given there wasn’t a lot to do, I began to look forward to the different types of food we could create at home, and see if we could recreate our favourite takeout dishes, because we were only eating homemade food at the time.


Social Circles


In terms of my social life, not being able to see my friends at school, and just talk to them was hard. It was strange because one day we were all having lunch with each other, and the next, everyone was starting to isolate at home. One thing my friends and I did was to dedicate some time each week to call. This made sure we were all keeping in touch with one another, and wasn’t losing that social connection.


I feel like this really helped me to stay connected and make sure my social skills were at least somewhat intact during quarantine. In terms of meeting new people, I joined many webinars and student meetups to meet incoming students at my university. I have to be honest, I didn’t really end up being friends with any of them - but it was still nice to talk!


Meeting people in my first university was very hard. All my classes were asynchronous, and there were no group projects, so I wasn’t really able to meet or interact with that many people. At times it was difficult to find help for assignments, but thankfully professors were very helpful.


Looking back at the pandemic, and the height of quarantine, although things were tough at times, it was a bittersweet experience. I got to discover new hobbies, and still stay close to my friends - just in a different way. But I thoroughly still enjoyed my education and extracurricular experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!