Reflecting on 2021’s academic year through the eyes of a UCT student

As the academic year ends, students often reflect on their experience at UCT and share new insights they have gained throughout the process.

By Manoa Andriamiharisoa (Features Editor)

This year marks the first time since students have had to adjust to some form of blended learning in a pandemic: attending some in-person lectures and practicals or writing tests and exams on campus. For many, 2021 has been challenging, taking a toll on their mental health. When asked about what this year has taught her, Fiqah, a second-year undergraduate student majoring in English and Linguistics and a resident in Tugwell, reflected on the importance of staying on track with work, as difficult as it is. “You have to know yourself academically […] and plan as much as you can […], so when the time comes, you do not put so much pressure on yourself”, says Fiqah. She regrets previously putting aside some of her course content when assignments and final submissions are due. In her opinion, catching up on lectures puts an immense strain on people, and it is hard to focus on something for a long time. As a student living in campus accommodation, it does not help when she isolates herself for several days because of work. “The four walls are daunting, […] get out as much as you can”, she notes. Fiqah is introverted by nature and does not regularly speak to people inside her campus student accommodation. Although she talks to people on her phone, she knows that this only works to some extent because people have their own lives and busy schedules. “If you do not have someone to talk to in res, you may lose it”, Fiqah says.

Looking back at everything that has happened so far, she would have liked to practice more self-control in certain situations. It could have helped her plan for circumstances better. When reflecting on what UCT has done in the learning space this year, Fiqah mentions that faculties have problems. Although she acknowledges that it is sometimes difficult to get timely feedback due to the changing environment these last two years, she highlights the importance of getting feedback from lecturers and faculties as a whole, particularly for students who struggle with mental health and stress. “We do not get the feedback we need to progress”, mentions Fiqah. She elaborates further that mistakes constitute the best learning process. To avoid these scenarios from repeating themselves next year, Fiqah urges faculties, lecturers, and tutors to talk to their students and communicate more openly and freely with them.

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