Your New Normal

computer on video callBob Dylan was right—the times are a-changin’.

Our world is looking very different, with many believing that we will never really go back. But what do all these changes mean for students who continue to live in residence? Let’s dive a bit deeper into what global and local responses to COVID-19 look like for anyone who’s still on campus.

1. Moving and relocating

In March, UAlberta residents were advised that they should return home if they could. This means we’ve now separated from a lot of our friends and peers who we spent the majority of this year getting to know.

The difficult decision was made to encourage students to return home if they could, to help keep the community safe for those who had to stay. Because some of you went home, we were able to relocate remaining residents to safer residence units more conducive to physical distancing.

Moving, whether to a new residence unit or returning home, can be a big transition—especially when the move is unexpected. Give yourself time to get settled into your surroundings and adjust to your new environment!

2. Food

The way we get food is also starting to look different. The Lister Residence dining hall has moved to take-away only and many local restaurants have done the same. Even going out to get groceries seems more intimidating, with constant reminders to maintain physical distancing and sanitize touch surfaces like carts or keypads. While some folks may opt to get groceries delivered or order take-away, we are suddenly having to put more thought into what our meals and snacks look like.

Although many of our students have relocated to units with private kitchens, there are still some buildings, such as International House, where residents are sharing meal prep areas. Sharing communal spaces means we need to be extra aware of how we are cleaning and using them. Although these buildings have enhanced cleaning in place, it’s still important to limit the number of individuals in the kitchen and secure your kitchen items appropriately.

3. Physical distancing

We know social support is important for our mental health and overall well-being—but how we connect with friends and family has changed a lot. Residence has limited gatherings and announced a no-guest policy, but what does this mean for residents wanting to see their friends? Although the internet has been a hub of creative ideas on how to stay connected and support one another, it still can feel strange to walk around empty spaces on campus or not see any students in the lounge.

Residence is a unique environment where the buildings are designed to build and support community. So we have communal kitchens but we also share common hallways and elevators. Maintaining 2 meters away from others through physical distancing is only half the battle! You know the routine: Wash your hands and avoid touching your face. But if you see individuals in your community who are not behaving unsafely, don’t hesitate to contact or the RA on shift.

Lastly, just because we cannot physically share in the same space, there are still tons of new ways in which residents and staff are connecting with one another: RAs and staff have begun online check-ins with students and programming has moved online and adapted to fit our current situation—so be sure to hop into an online dance challenge or group paint night!

4. Remote classes

Students are being thrown into the world of remote learning. Some of us may prefer this type of learning (where we can watch lectures from the comfort of our bed, in our PJs and at our own pace), but others have found that the abrupt change opened up many unexpected challenges.

First, not only are you no longer able to get the in-person contact with professors, teaching assistants and peers, but there is a greater shift to personal accountability. Here are some key tips:

  • Put aside specific time in your day to do school work and study
  • As nice as your bed can be, create a learning space that works for you
  • Take breaks to move around and get the blood flowing—on campus, you’d be running from class to class, stopping to see friends and getting food

Remember that there are a ton of academic supports still available, such as the Academic Success Centre, so ask for help if you need it.