Hi, my name is Chloe and I am in my first year studying Medicine! There must be so many questions about what it is like at King’s, and university in general, during this pandemic. I am also sure a lot of you are wondering how the pandemic has in particular affected the ‘First-year Experience’. Hopefully, I will cover all your main questions about a COVID university life!
So I’ll start off with what a typical week consists of. For the first year of medicine, it is normally fully packed, but each day is so different even with my studies being online. Usually, it is 9-5 lectures, Monday to Friday, accompanied by tutorials and workshops. I know, it does sound like a lot… but it keeps you busy! The tutorials are live and are usually held twice a week. This is where we get the chance to meet in our tutor groups of around fifteen people and discuss anything in the lectures that we didn’t understand. It is a great opportunity for us to get to know our peers safely but also offers a comfortable environment for us to consolidate our knowledge.
Unfortunately, because of social distancing issues, we are unable to perform dissections. Instead, we have workshops with our tutor groups where we can go through a particular section of the body that was covered in the anatomy lectures with a surgical trainee. Again, it is a fantastic opportunity to get to know our course mates but also helps us understand the complexity of the human body, which is to most of us, a completely new subject. Whilst many universities had been unable to provide access to the dissecting room, King’s allowed us to twice a week to attend ‘Open Learning’ in the dissection labs. This is essentially ‘self-directed prosection’ but also has the added support and in-person teaching from the surgical trainees. It had been a hugely useful experience for us to engage in the course and to physically see the anatomy of the body instead of just looking at pictures! There are also many on campus resources we can take advantage of even during the lockdown such as the libraries and the Gordon Museum of Pathology.
As a student who had just finished school, it had been hard adjusting to university especially during this pandemic. However, we have access to such an overwhelming amount of resources to help with online learning and support for our mental health. Just a few examples include our tutors and the wellbeing team at our halls of residence.
Another topic I am sure a lot of you are thinking about is: was it easy to make friends? Whilst my Freshers’ Week wasn’t quite the same as in previous years, I still very much enjoyed the experience and the Medical School Association (MSA) at King’s played a huge role in this. Even with complex government regulations, the MSA made a massive effort organising in-person and online events to welcome us. Whilst COVID restrictions had allowed, many sporting societies had managed to have several socially distanced in-person training and socials this semester. This was another great way to meet like-minded people and to feel included in the King’s community. Just to name a few, I took part in GKT netball, rugby, and KCL badminton!
Despite the difficulties in online teaching, all the students and I have been very much appreciative of the efforts that the staff had taken to ensure we still received a top-quality education. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first semester at King’s and cannot wait to start the next!