Work Ethic and Productivity
Having quite literally nothing else to do has led to a slight productivity boost, though of course there are always new methods of procrastination to be found: organising your OneDrive, cooking an enormous curry for your 8-person flat, or going on a walk with that one sort-of friend you don’t even like that much. Over the past 8 weeks, you’ve likely convinced yourself these are all worthy breaks which will support your mental health during this ‘unique’ university experience.
A minor upside to online learning has been increased flexibility: instead of running around trying to reach that 9am lecture on time, you can simply curl up in your room at a reasonable hour, select 1.5x speed, and relax.
Hopefully you like your flatmates, or else the past month will have been both testing and lonely. At least the pubs were open for a while, and even now you can escape the potential solace of your household through the medium of a Boris-approved walk.
As for nightlife (hah), nothing says ‘Michaelmas 2020’ like drinking with your friends like you’re about to hit the club, only to end up back at the flat at 10pm, get the kitchen disco going by 10.30, and be portered at 11.
If you aren’t a runner, or hate at-home sports like yoga, this term has been infuriating, especially for those who forgot to cancel their gym membership over November and have now been reduced to complaining about this to compensate in some tiny way for their £30 loss.
Take a moment to feel sorry for the runners too, whose customary routes have been overrun by long lines of walkers in double file. Government rules on exercise mean Christ Church Meadow on a Saturday is reminiscent of some weird re-enactment of Noah’s Ark, forcing the runners to huff in a loud, obviously irritated way behind the endless pairs of students to guilt them into shuffling aside.
Lockdown 2 has not been kind to the dating landscape, already nursing deep scars from Lockdown 1. For most of Michaelmas, the only legal way to have a date with someone in person has been a walk. The endless walks! Laps and laps of Port Meadow and Uni Parks, with friends, with half-forgotten acquaintances, with dates – Fitbit step counts must have gone through the roof this term.
A fact often ignored is that outdoor dates in the winter are terrible. It may seem like a cute idea – admiring the Rad Cam in the early sunset, snuggling up with a mulled wine, smiling beneath the Christmas Lights – but the reality is the two of you shivering round some park or another, both looking mildly unattractive due to runny noses and pale faces, and both afraid to hold the other’s hand (more afraid than usual, at least) since you don’t know what their corona boundaries are like.
Rishi Sunak has done nothing to improve chat up lines either: if I see one more genius on Tinder proclaiming that they are “still offering Eat Out to Help Out 😉 “, I will riot.
‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,’ is a favourite saying of PE teachers nationwide, and whilst I could never take seriously any moralizing from someone wearing football shorts in -2C weather, recently I have come to appreciate the timeless verity of this stupid motivational quote.
Spending Michaelmas under government restrictions designed to limit your life to its most boring essentials has been difficult. I long for the hallowed day when the vaccine arrives and I can accost my friends with over-enthusiastic hugs rather than resorting to the embarrassing elbow tap, the 2020 version of a handshake that’s even harder to pull off with acceptable flair.
But I am determined that once restrictions are lifted, I will be following The PE Teacher Manifesto: if tier systems, isolation, and national lockdowns have taught us anything, it’s that opportunities should not be wasted and, cheesy though it is, it’s only once they’ve been taken away from us that we truly appreciate their worth.
So going into 2021, I hope we all resolve to take up that sport we’ve been secretly wanting to try since Freshers’, to attend those society events we always put off, to ask that hot stranger on the Tescalator whether they want to go for a drink sometime.
We have tried to make the best out of a bad Michaelmas 2020, and I for one am determined that this opportunism and energy should not disappear once the pandemic does. You’ll never know if you’ll miss the shot unless you take it. And I can tell you that with a straight face because I’m not wearing football shorts.