I am a Ghanaian post-graduate student of Cardiff University, UK studying MSc Clinical Optometry as a full-time student. The program is for one year, and I enrolled in September 2019.
Not until the the Corona virus pandemic, I was keeping a level- headed momentum despite the academic challenges. As expected, I too was affected by the pandemic in my own way. The pandemic struck the UK just around the time we had started the second semester in March 2020. This had an impact on my academic work and social life.
When the pandemic hit Wales, the university was forced to shut down based on the government directions as part of its measures to control the pandemic. The university was forced to moved unto a complete virtual form. This was not too bad or new for me, since most theory section of the MSc Clinical Optometry program was already been virtually in order to involve most of the online and part-time students. The modules that had clinical sessions were the most hit. We had to adjust to having clinical and practical sessions which should have been face to face now been demonstrated virtually. It was one unfortunate situation since I was looking forward to learning and improving a lot of my skills clinically, but that could not be achieved virtually.
There were lots of changes to our time table, though the intention was good and laudable, it did create a lot of pressure. The department needed clearance to organise certain parts of the exams from the university, which made them change the time table around a lot. It did present with lots of unexpected stress, but it has been an interesting experience on a whole.
On life as an international student, the restrictions did present with lots of challenges when you live with other foreign students. I found a quick remedy by temporarily staying with relatives in another town close to the university. However, since the university closed, students were given options to either leave their university accommodation and go to the home countries or opt to stay. I opted to stay, but at a point in time, I was called to relocate accommodations since the university wanted to have those of us staying in a particular area. The pandemic made the school timetable extend when we would complete our program, but the residency unit would not accommodate us for the extended period, which was a huge challenge.
Regardless of the challenges faced, I noticed staying with the people of Wales during this pandemic has been interesting. The general cooperation of the people to the restrictions has been quite a positive point in the face of all the challenges of the pandemic.
I am glad things are loosening out now and hope Covid- 19 clears up faster so that life fully gets back to normal. Till then, I am going to keep every chance my best.
MSc Clinical Optometry, Cardiff University