Three Reasons Why I’m happy For Things To Be Back To “Normal”, And Why You Should Be Too!

Lewis Powell, a Stage 3 Economics with Econometrics student and President of Kent Poker Society, blogs about his experience of studying through a pandemic.

Three reasons why I’m happy for things to be back to “normal” and why you should be to 

Going into my final year, I was pessimistic about whether things would be normal like I experienced in my first year (2018-9 academic year). I remember back to the first term of my second year, and I was struggling to manage with the adaptation to online learning as well as struggling in getting engagement in Kent Poker Society, which I was the President of. I didn’t like the aspect of doing everything within the confines of my small room in which I didn’t even have the floor space to attempt a push-up. The online learning experience was far from the social experience of in-person learning and being honest was not the experience I paid £9,000 for. But from it I learned many valuable lessons about my learning style and running a society.  


Make Use of the Resources Available  

I remember in my second year; I didn’t perform great in my midterm ICTs due to not being fully adapted to the online learning. However, by the time the end of term ICTs came about students were allowed to use the seminar rooms in Kennedy for private study. This made a huge difference to me as I could use the huge whiteboard to draw my diagrams and equations for revision. I believe that active learning is best way to learn i.e learning by doing. By drawing all these diagrams and writing all these equations over and over, these were absorbing into my memory. I remember for my Micro ICT, I wrote the whole of Consumer Theory and the whole of Producer Theory on the whiteboard and scanned it into my phone to reference to at home. This active approach not only made me perform better in the end of term ICT, but also made learning more fun and was infinitely better than staring at the lecture slides or reading over seminar solution. In Macro, I did a similar approach and built-up models like IS-LM and AS-AD on my big whiteboard, writing down the assumptions the theories are based on and playing around with comparative statics. In the Spring term of that year, the Kennedy building closed again and I was constrained to my tiny whiteboard in my room, which was stuck onto my wardrobe where I spent more time rubbing out the board than writing equations or drawing diagrams. I whole-heartedly believe that access to resources makes a difference in reaching your academic potential.  


Work Life Balance Matters 

Another lesson I learnt was that separating my work place and my leisure space is of key importance. During the lockdown, I was using the same desktop PC for studying that I was using to compete in my esports team. Using the same computer for studying and leisure activities comes with many distractions -you are logged into your social media accounts, have your own computer programs and games as potential distractions. Separating the study space and my home life means that once I’ve left the Kennedy building or the library that I can instantly switch off and partake in my evening activities of choice. Last term I spent less than 5 hours working from home, with my personal computer not used for studying but used for leisure and doing what I want to do. Another benefit to studying in the Kennedy building is the social interaction with other students and staff. This community aspect cannot be understated. I believe that working with others and problem solving together can only be of net benefit. Instead of struggling on your own in your bedroom, being around the economics student community can mean you can ask for help quickly and work together or quickly speak to your module convenor/seminar leader rather than having to wait for an email response. Being part of casual extra classes like Kenometrics (from 4-6 on Friday) has been great because it means I can finish my problem sets before the weekend and then use my weekend for leisure activities rather than work.  


University is a Social Experience 

The best thing about university is the social aspect. Running my society online was immensely difficult. A lot of people play poker to have fun by playing a game and talking to others at the table. For that to happen, you all need to be in the same room. Trying to get Kent Poker Society running online was immensely difficult because of the barriers to entry. Each person who wants to get involved will have to download some software to play and then deposit money online and join our voice communications channel and then sit on their computer for a few hours and play. This takes out the social aspect which university is all about. My society basically when inactive due to the difficulty of online, much like other societies likely did. Going into this academic year, I couldn’t let Kent Poker Society die as its got a rich history. In November, Kent Poker alumni Jack Oliver won $3,000,000 in the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas: the most prestigious poker tournament in the world. When successes like this happen, it makes me infinitely proud to have carried on the society’s legacy. Now last term, we were back up and running in person back in our traditional home of the Rutherford Dining Hall engaging offering a fun, sociable and inclusive game to University of Kent students. Being in person and rebuilding my community comes with challenges but thinking about of the hours of enjoyment given to our society members it makes all the late nights running the society worth it.  


Lewis Powell is a Stage 3 student studying for a BSc Hons in Economics with Econometrics as well as being President of the Kent Poker Society, follow them on Instagram.