Developing a Pandemic Routine

I know I’m not the only one for which time since mid-March hasn’t felt quite real. The Easter break passed in a dissociative blur and now it’s apparently summer term? Its been challenging to get back into the headspace of academic work since Im still stuck in the same physical space that I’ve been in for a monthBut since deadlines don’t stop even though time isn’t real, I’ve been slowly clawing my lockdown life into something of a routine.  


I start most mornings with a run in my local park. Running has never been my preferred form of exercise but being able to get outside and burn off some pent-up energy helps me cope with spending the rest of the day in my room. It’s also wonderful to be surrounded by nature for a bit: the ducks and geese at the pond have been wandering around with their hatchlings which always brings a smile to my face. 


A proud parent


Next up: breakfast and day-planningMy course is in its so-called research methods fortnight” where students develop their thesis proposals. The pandemic has of course altered the format, so we now have pre-recorded lectures and presentations along with group conference calls. I plan which “live” sessions to attend in a way that fits with my Zoom calls with my external advisor and my other obligations. Everything ends up in a big-picture list of what I need to get done in the day. 

Late morning – Early afternoon 

Now I can settle down and get to work. Whether watching a lecturesearching databases, or reading R documentation, everything feeds back into refining my research proposal. I don’t have a particularly exciting setup: just me, in my room, at my desk. Sometimes I try to mix it up by sitting in the hallway, but it gets awkward when my roommate has to squeeze by to use the bathroom. I take breaks to stretch and check in with my option group on Whatsapp, which is a ready source of ideas and mutual support.  

Late afternoon – Evening 

More of the same. I like to give myself a different type of task than what I was working on earlier, so that I can refocus. When I get hungry, it’s time to stop for the day. I don’t have set mealtimes anymore and tend to not have a midday meal because, again, time is weird. But cooking dinner helps me unwind and serves as a signal to myself that I am done with work.  


After dinner is me-time: I catch up with friends in the US by chat or videocall, keep up my Duolingo streak in Japanese, and have plank-offs with my roommate. I can go to bed in a good mood, ready to do it all again the next day.  


2 comments for “Developing a Pandemic Routine

  1. Hello Emma,
    I am also from the US and was recently accepted to the MSc Environmental Technology program for 2020-2021. I am currently weighing it with other graduate options that would be significantly cheaper/free. I was wondering if you had any insight on the “employability” of degree holders from your experience and with talking to alumni of the program. All in all, do you think the price of the degree is worth the short term and long term payoffs.

    1. Hi Joseph,
      Congrats on your acceptance! The alumni network for this program is definitely very large and well-connected. I have been astonished at how often alumni crop up as I explore various fields and am sure that it will be useful going forward. I have not reached the point where I am applying for jobs myself so I can’t add any personal insight there. Ultimately, your circumstances are your own so I would encourage you to also think about the associated costs beyond tuition with each of your graduate options. Good luck!

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