How Starting Block helped me prepare for the year ahead

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By Megan, BA(Hons) Media Culture and Communications

Going into a new year at university can be a nerve-wracking time for anyone and there are lots of ways you can prepare. As a student going into a year of online learning for the first time last year, I was very apprehensive about the new way of learning and all the new challenges I would face learning from home.

Fortunately, we had a Starting Block.

Starting Block is a great opportunity to set yourself up for the year ahead and make sure you’re prepared with the skills you will need for university life. Last year, because of Covid-19, all learning was done online. This took a bit of getting used to as it was a new concept for a lot of people, and while it sounded fun at first, it came with its own set of challenges.

Before starting block I felt nervous about the year ahead as well as new obstacles like wifi connections, audio issues and all the new aspects of learning we had never had to consider before. Thankfully starting block was a great opportunity to test all of this out, so when it came to the first week of term I felt fully prepared and comfortable. 

I learned a lot from Starting Block. As I mentioned, I had a lot to figure out with audio issues and connections at the start, starting block gave me the opportunity, time and support to make sure my wifi was strong enough or that I had a good desk to work from, small things that could have hindered me had I not had the opportunity to sort them out. It also helped me get used to seeing and interacting with lecturers and my peers online instead of in person.  

Another aspect that really helped me was a group talk our lecturer gave where she discussed mental health and working from home. We were given really good advice on how to separate university life and home life, for example having separate space to work, even if this is just a desk in your room instead of working on your laptop from bed (as appealing as that sounds), so we have spaces to switch off.

We were also told to take regular breaks outside, so we could rest our eyes from looking at screens all day. Having this advice not only helped feel more prepared for what the year would be like, but it also made me feel like everyone was in the same position and it made starting the academic year easier to cope with knowing everyone was doing something new for the first time.

The advice we were given from lectures during Starting Block not only helped me prepare my working set-up but also helped me prepare mentally for the new challenges learning from home comes with. It made me feel much more comfortable with how online learning was going to be and I gained incredible benefits from it like advice from lecturers, as well as talking to other students so it is a great way to feel prepared at the start of a new year.

And whilst this year will look different to last year, I have no doubt that the advice and skills learnt during Starting Block will help me prepare just as well for whatever the year ahead will bring.

Visit our Starting Block webpage for more information.