7 Ways to Study Effectively in the Age of Novel CoronavirusApril 15, 2020

Loving each other means staying away from each other, which your mother has remarked before the beginning of the summer season. She wouldn't allude to the adventures of stockpile shopping, which was headline news many weeks ago. You didn't ask her to elaborate on it, but you recalled it when you were trying to log in. Faculty staff instructed it, but it happened that there would be others. Internet connection was slow, which would test your patience. It's another day at the university, but you're studying from home. If this is the new normal, then you wonder how to adjust to it in the shortest time.

The first thing to do is try to be positive about the situation. You must stop reading novels like "Year of Wonders", where (author) Geraldine Brooks set her tale in the plague-infected English Derbyshire village of Eton, and not see movies like "28 Days Later". (You can think about post-apocalyptic Sydney when there's nothing else to do.) Social isolation is the new phrase in the international vernacular, but you could foresee that it wouldn't be the same as before. You might find it awkward to wave at coursemates while avoiding them, if not give other students the side-eye while suspecting that they're spreaders of the coronavirus, but it's borderline rude to get too close in the hallway. God forbid someone touching you especially if it's the likes of Mary Malone. You're imagining too much, as you become envious of the risk-taking spring break revelers (or those who have a sun-kissed moment in Bondi recently). You must deal with the new term, so relax, take a deep breath, and declare that it's a small world. We're in this together, but it has nothing to do with Nike ad.

You already figured out that you would have contact with the academics, and it could be as often as you want to. The Internet connection should be a reminder that the term, if not the first few months of it, would be an uphill struggle. Giving up is not an option.

You Would Miss Something, But You Could Make It Work

Sites are crashing. You have many options to turn to. You can finish the book that you would study (and write about), if not look at the syllabus. You should plan the days (and a number of hours) on writing a paper about it. You won't see other students, so you won't be pressured at all. This lack of supervision can test your ability to manage your time, not to mention remind yourself of your sense of responsibility. If you're wishing for a different learning experience (like the graduate students), then this is your opportunity to shine.

A simple misunderstanding can escalate. You have read a certain poem by W.S. Merwin, where you remembered being asleep with a compass in your hands. You like to post it on social media, but some students may misinterpret it. (They are unfamiliar with Merwin's works, if not they don't have the time for subtle messages.) Be clear when messaging your tutor, professors, and coursemates. Furthermore, online discussion can be a test of confidence, as those who don't say a word during lecture hours would be eloquent during Zoom time. If you're one of those students, you might be holding back on your enthusiastic response to the Barsoom series. Save it for Victorian literature.

You can put off watching recording lectures. You can watch your favourite scene from "Joey" one more time or go to that chapter describing Lyra Bellacqua's surreal experience in Prague. You can look back at the blind auditions of "The Voice Australia", if not check out the fridge. You can also feel more accomplished after doing a household chore. Sleeping off is not what you must do.

Different tasks require different levels of concentration. Listening to a lecture is easier, and if it"s not, you can ask your coursemates (for clarification) or replay it. (You can send your request if you're required to do it.) On the other hand, analysing a text and writing an essay about it would demand your full concentration. You may not adjust to the new arrangement in your home, which could distract you easily. Don't get upset about it, and don't attempt to finish it right away. Break it into smaller tasks, so it should make you feel good (when you're done with one). 

You miss socialising. Social media would do for now. Count yourself as lucky if you don't have to deal with issues of being furloughed (or not), as well as struggling with solastalgia, which would be loss of something beloved due to environmental change(s). The coronavirus turned Australia into a shuttered amusement park, but it's not bad as it seems at first. You can set up informal discussions via Skype or FaceTime, but don't do it often. You might miss the deadline(s) and not have ample time for preparing for your examination(s).

Not everyone has access to laptop and (reliable) wifi. Your tutor has pointed out that the content would be made easy to read, but you're having a problem with your mobile phone. You're supposed to use a laptop, if not a desktop computer. If such a problem arises, notify the faculty staff right away. You might not get an immediate response, but you can look at other tasks related to the coursework. The lockdown should give you some time, so try to be as efficient as possible.

You can't set boundaries at home. If you feel like studying in the kitchen table, then tell your mother about it. You can arrange a schedule when you don't have to be in the kitchen with her. Moreover, you won't mind your father and/or sibling checking the refrigerator. 

Tidy Up

The new set-up will test your self-discipline, and you should know that it would be hard to keep your focus if your place is cluttered. Do your best to keep your room clean unless you're one of those amazing teenagers who are capable of doing extraordinary things. You need a calmer environment in these troubled times.

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