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This piece was written for and printed in Vol. 55’s Issue Zero. Click here to read the it in full.
Congratulations! You are about to embark on a life altering adventure in the middle of a global pandemic. That takes gumption. Arthur salutes you. To help you on your way, we’ve compiled all the most important information (and some of our best unsolicited advice) for your reading pleasure.
Is it Cool to be at School?
As we are writing this in mid-August, there is still a lot that remains unclear. The most recent update has university buildings open, with new signage indicating how to use public spaces safely. Food services and study spaces will be open, but if you’re in any building on campus, you will be expected to wear a mask. It’s county law now!
If you have essential business on campus (or maybe you just want to take a Drumlin hike) you can use one of six busses servicing campus daily. For West Bank, you can take #2 Chemong, #3 Park, #6 Sherbrooke, or #8 Monaghan. For East Bank you’ll want the #7A Lansdowne or the #9 Parkhill. Trent Express, we never thought we’d say this… but we’ll miss ya.
If you’re a residence student, you probably know that the university has eliminated double and triple rooms for the time being, and that residence buildings are complete with “the latest health and safety training and protocols.”
The Athletics Centre will be implementing a phased approach to re-opening that will begin on September 1st, with phase two expected to come in October. Student Health Services will be conducting appointments virtually and over the phone.
You probably know by now that Trent isn’t giving anyone a discount on tuition. Trent’s rationale for this decision: the university will still offer students a ‘high-calibre’ learning experience.
You might not know that you can get your money back if things go terribly awry. If COVID-19 impacts your semester through limited course offerings, travel restrictions, or if your studies are no longer viable for medical or financial reasons, you will be able to submit a Self-Declaration Form firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for this is on or before September 24th.If you’re worried about paying tuition this year, get in touch with Financial Aid to find out what options might be available to you. For a complete list of financial resources available, visit trentu.ca/studentfinances/financial-wellness/studentresources.
How 2 Learn Online
There is a very thorough guide to online learning available at trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-learn-online, but rather than regurgitate it here, we are going to give you some tips straight from the source: two burnt out upper years who finished last semester in quarantine.
One of the biggest challenges we have found with online learning is that everything is a bit more abstract, including deadlines. Without the face-to-face interactions with your professors, it can be easy to forget that they are real people expecting a very real assignment from you at a real point in time. Be sure to budget your time well, and build a routine that works for you.
Don’t let the confines of virtual space stop you from getting to know your classmates. Forging bonds with fellow students always proves to be fruitful when you miss a lecture or a reading, need a pal to bounce ideas off for a paper, or require moral support in the face of a daunting exam. Friends make learning easier! If you feel awkward about approaching your classmates online, keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat, and that we all stand to benefit when we help each other out.
Take advantage of the Zoom subscription you have access to through Trent. Meet virtually, or in-person if you’re comfortable! Study in parks! On the Sadleir House lawn! Or in any number of Trent’s green spaces!
Making New Friends! Ahhh!
Making new friends in a new place is hard enough as it is; throw in a global pandemic and social distancing measures, and it starts to seem impossible. But have no fear! You will not go friend-less. Here’s how:
Trent has innumerable clubs and groups that are always looking for fresh faces to breathe new life into their orgs every Fall. They’re waiting for you! Many of these groups are mentioned on our maps on pages six and seven, but a full list can be found at trentcentral.ca/registered-clubs. You’ll quickly realize that there is something for everyone! Seek out your interests!
Unsure of where to find like-minded people? Check out the Trent Queer Collective (TQC), the Trent Centre for Women and Trans People, the Trent International Students Association (TISA), the Trent University Native Association (TUNA), and Black Lives Matter Nogojiwanong.
The final thing to remember is that community takes time. In our experience, Trent and Ptbo/Nogo are extremely welcoming places -but that doesn’t mean we weren’t lonely as hell in first year!
At a time like this, making plans for the future can feel like an exercise in futility. Nobody knows what is going to happen next month, or even next week. The folks at Trent are a little bit more optimistic about the state of the world than we are. They are hoping that by the winter term, more students will be able to return to study primarily on campus.
No matter what happens in the hellscape that is the ‘Age of COVID-19’, Trent maintains that you will have options in how you approach your learning experience. You’ll be able to make these decisions in accordance with your personal situation and your comfort level.