Audiology is a course that requires students to be hands-on. I love the idea of this, being able to constantly interact with patients and being dropped right in the thick of things as a student. You learn and grow fast in environments like this. As a final year Audiology student, I was finally beginning to take things in my stride; the working lifestyle, dealing with patients, communicating with colleagues and time management. Then the whirlwind that is Coronavirus arrived and my certainty and structure were quickly uprooted.
My monthly trip to university turned out to be my last and I had finished my placement on a cliff-hanger. Skilled and confident but all of those previously forefront emotions were now amidst the uncertainty that only a global pandemic can cause. There was solitude in knowing I was not alone, course mates, friends and family were all in this unprecedented time with me. It is one thing to suddenly stop the usual motions of life but to be uncertain of what is next is completely something else as a final year student.
I knew what I had to do: finish university to the best of my ability. The question was how do I adapt in time? How do I apply my old revision techniques which relied on libraries and changing scenery when I was now in a lockdown? Admittedly, I did think about painting my walls a bright colour halfway through the pandemic, in order to feel a different environment but this idea was swiftly declined by my mother. I studied on the floor, I drew, spoke and quizzed myself in ways I had never even thought of before. Although I was physically confined to the house, my mind was freer than it had ever been. I was thinking of new ways to do things, to make them fun, to make it faster and to keep mentally alert.
And it worked.
On the 29th of May, with a struggling Wi-Fi connection, I had finished my 3 years of university at Aston. I had done what I needed to do through chaos of it all.
I was proud of myself and proud of my friends because we had come out the other end despite the last-minute surprise. Now as a grandaunt, I feel like I can adapt fast if I was required to again. I now know I can still improve myself in trying situations. Most importantly, I’m aware of how others around you can also help you to do this. As an Audiologist, I am aware of the importance of communication but often it is centred around hearing. Communicating with friends and family at home, on zoom calls and long phone conversations is the foundation that pulled me through. The importance of communication goes deeper than just hearing, it’s a social need for me and I think this is the case for many others – hearing impaired or not.
Undoubtedly, this period has been experienced differently by everyone. I am privileged to say I can draw more positives than negatives from my own experience. Truthfully, it would be incorrect to say that everything will go back to normal. There is a new normal now, we’re just not sure exactly what it is at the moment. However, it is human nature to adapt, so I think eventually we will all be fine.