What even is normal anymore?
We used to have a ‘normal’ and now, as things have changed so much, it can be hard to know what that even means anymore.
As we step down to level three and begin to regain this sense of ‘normality’, I feel that it is both exciting and also a little surreal. For 400,000 New Zealanders this is a return to work, for many, it’s an opportunity to leave your home a little more, expand your bubble a little wider, and if you’re at University, maybe a chance to return to your office, laboratory space, or research facility – this is of course being only if you absolutely must.
Some have described level three as just “Level Four with takeaways” and in many ways it can appear that way. Though let’s not underestimate the satisfaction in a good Drive-Thru Burger. Takeaways aside, I am more excited that this appears to be a step back towards some sort of ‘normal’ – even if this ‘normal’ is very different from the ‘normal’ we all knew before.
A lot of things have changed as a result of this pandemic. We’re making conscious efforts to socially distance, work remotely, and to be contactless in our transactions. This comes at a cost though – we simply cannot all come together – and as much as I’m glad the semester can continue, I look forward to that feeling of coming together on campus. Even if it must be for a particularly boring lecture, an exam or on a day when we’d rather not.
Please remember this is level three – things haven’t changed too much yet, but if we all do this right, we can go to level two, and then one, and at each level, we can come together a little more.
Till then, reach out, we’ll be back in person soon.
It’s kind of amazing how quickly things start to seem normal.
When the lockdown began, it was like the whole world was ending. Students couldn’t believe what was happening. Everything we knew was being upended. There were no more in-person lectures. There were no more tutorials. Most assignments had to be scrapped, or reworked, or pushed back again and again and again. Labs were replaced with recorded videos. Office hours were replaced with piazza pages.
It was insanity, confusion, and chaos. Everything concrete about student life – the campus, Shadows, the very concept of classes themselves – were gone. It seemed hard to believe that anything could ever be normal again.
And yet, only a few weeks on – here we are.
Things seem… normal. Not good. Not great. But definitely normal.
For the most part, students have adjusted to this new life remarkably quickly. They’ve developed new student lives – new schedules and habits and things to do. Lectures are completed at six in the evening, lying in bed, instead of the usual 10am classrooms. Friday nights at Shads have been replaced with boozy Zoom calls. And study sessions have moved from the general library to the garage. But for the most part, student life goes on.
That’s pretty fucking amazing. We’re pretty fucking lucky to live at a time – and in a country – where this is possible. Yes, Zoom lectures suck. Yes, emailing a lecturer isn’t the same as seeing them in person. And yes, chatting over FaceTime isn’t the same as meeting up in person. But let’s just be thankful that – in this crazy, disruptive time we’re in, where people are dying overseas, and some countries are struggling to keep their citizens fed – we can afford to have any kind of normal at all.
Having said all that, I understand that for some of you reading this, adjusting to the new normal has been more difficult. Maybe you’re struggling financially. Maybe you’re cooped up with an abusive family, or boyfriend, or flatmate. Maybe you’re suffering from an illness which has gotten worse.
To you: I hope you’re okay. I strongly suggest you check out our article on the student support services different organisations are offering.