The coronavirus has affected my studying in several different ways: some for the better and some for the worse. I’m going to start off with saying that the transition from normal lectures to online lectures was not that easy especially as I had not used applications such as zoom before and this is how most of my lectures were done. Once I got the hang of it, I actually started to find that it was quite useful, and I still managed to get the same knowledge from the lectures. I did find however, that the extra knowledge you get from lecturers when you ask questions was more difficult to obtain as there was always a lot of people talking at once. It was decided that if we wanted to ask questions, we had to email the tutor. This resulted in loss of spontaneity and when it came to writing the email it was harder to remember the detail and to express the question well. I did however find that not being at university meant that I could really focus on my studies when it came to doing background research and background reading as I had a lot more time on my hands without doing things like rugby and shooting and socialising, all of which take up quite a bit of time! Overall, I do think the university experience face-to-face is better than online because although you get the same information from the lectures on zoom, it is easier to process and ask questions in class if you find something confusing, rather than having to send an email.

I am currently working on a farm for my placement at Cysters Farms. I am really enjoying working there as I have learnt lots of new things that I didn’t know how to do and I am also experiencing a lot of processes and equipment which have recently been developed to make farming easier and more efficient. The hours are very long however, but I feel like this gives me a proper insight into how farming works, especially during harvest. For instance, yesterday I worked from 7am till 11pm and then had to start at 7am again this morning – When rain is forecast you sometimes have to just keep going to get a job finished before the rain arrives! Although the hours are long, I do really enjoy working on the farm and it is pleasing when you master something. I have also learnt the workings of the farm and I am able to make suggestions, using knowledge from my degree, and say if I think something could be done differently and my opinion is listened to.

Overall, the coronavirus has affected me by cutting my second year at university short, but I have managed to complete all the outstanding work from the year. The exams I would have sat at the end of term were converted to coursework and this actually suits me quite well as swotting for exams doesn’t come easily to me. As farming is essential work, I have been able to work during the summer months as usual which is great for improving my practical knowledge and is a change from studying. I am really looking forward to going back to Uni for my third year. At the moment, they have said that larger lectures may continue to be online but there will be face-to-face contact in smaller groups and farm visits etc will continue but also in smaller groups.

Hamish Elliott

Kent Rural Scholar

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