Higher Education During the Pandemic

By Sam Nicholls, 19, London, U.K. 

The past year took everybody by surprise, I feel like that is an understatement but it is no less true. Going to University in 2020 was something that, although I still looked forward to, was marred by uncertainty. The Covid-19 virus, as expected, had a large impact on the learning and education environment here, and its effects can still be felt. As I near the end of my first year I have begun reflecting on how things, especially on the education front, at university were so different to how I envisioned them before I started.

Studying film, a primarily practical subject, the virus had a major impact on how the course functioned. Much of the excitement I had going into University was based on the practical aspects of my learning, I wanted to spend time using equipment hands-on as well as collaborating with others in person. Obviously, restrictions surrounding the Virus meant that most of this did not come to pass and I, like many others spent most of my year inside my bedroom behind a computer screen.

The course became much more focused on learning how to effectively be creative, and the process that real filmmakers undergo in coming up with their ideas rather than actually creating them. This focus on pre-production, although it initially seemed boring to me, actually taught me a lot; about how film making is a long process and how planning was much more integral in the process of making films than I initially envisioned. Despite this silver lining a lot of projects and plans that we started continued to get scrapped, and as the virus continued to linger it meant that filming in large groups was just not possible. Add to this the fact that two lockdowns took place in under a year, the prospect of filming became basically non-existent.

This however was only one half of the subject as well as learning about the importance of pre-production, we also studied industrial practices and film theory. This side of the course, although being less affected by the pandemic and virus, did not go unchanged. Switching to remote learning meant that the collaborative reviews of films that we would have ordinarily watched together in a group setting became much more of an individual task. This removed a fun aspect of learning and turned something, that under different circumstances could have been entertaining, into more of a chore. Obviously, I don't want to say that me watching films as part of my study was a really arduous process, but I just want to explain that this was something unexpected.

Now despite all of these setbacks and problems that we faced over the year, I still feel a sense of hope and optimism looking forward to the following years of study, which even for me is surprising. I think this comes down to how our lecturers managed to still teach me and my coursemates a great deal about film, from both a practical and a more theoretical standpoint. Each assignment and project, despite some not being able to be completed in certain cases still served a purpose and taught us something, and all of the things that I looked forward to at the beginning of this year that didn't happen, I am now excited to be doing in the future, this wait has only furthered my excitement.

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