My Lockdown Year At University

It’s been so long since I wrote a blog post I’m not quite sure how to start this. So hi. My name is Emma. I write about stationery and notebooks and various other related bits. The last post I shared was back in September of 2020. I had just made the transition from my old domain name to this: The Paper Kind. 

Side note: can I just say how much I love the new name for my website. I’m so glad I took the time to find a name that resonated with what I want to do in the future. I’ve had a few people message me saying how much they like the new name and that means a lot. So thanks. 

In that last post, I mentioned I was about to start my final year at university. This was quite a big deal because I’ve been working towards it for quite a long time. However, as you can maybe imagine, this past year has not been like most others. So today I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been doing over the last 12 months and share my experience of studying while in lockdown. 

StuDYING from home

First, a little backstory. I study graphic design. I did three years in college and then went to university, entering direct into second year. At the start of 2020, I was about halfway through my second semester of 3rd year when the pandemic started getting bad in the UK. At the time I expected that I would be doing at least some in-person classes during my 4th year. 

The communications my university sent out over the summer said that teaching would be a mix of in-person and online teaching. When it came time for the new year to start, this ‘blended learning’ environment turned out to be three hours of studio time per week. With all teaching being held online. 

I mentioned that I study graphic design because this is quite an important aspect of the story. Being in the studio is such an important part of the course. Your studio is essentially your home for that year. It’s where you have space to work and collaborate with others on your course. You have full access to it whenever the university is open. This means 8 till 7 Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings. Because I’m in art school there are also many other workshops we have access to, the make space, darkrooms, printmaking, woodshop, not to mention the library. 

Blended learning meant I only had access to those facilities for 3 hours a week. With all of the other anxieties which came from using public transport in a pandemic, I decided to study from home for the first semester. At first the work from home thing went okay. I was on holiday when the semester started so it worked out well because I could do my first week of learning while having a break with my family. I had a workspace where I could do online tutorials and for the most part, shops were open as normal. 

The end of 2020 went by fine. My course splits the dissertation module so you do half at the end of third year and you write the dissertation in semester 1 of fourth year. I was able to do my design projects, I enjoyed the whole research and writing process for the dissertation. But then Christmas time came. 

Winter lockdown

I can’t assume that everyone reading this lives in the UK so here’s a little backstory on what happened over winter. Cases were going up, Scotland went into lockdown the day after Christmas with England following a little later. This meant the university closed entirely, and so semester two was a work from home affair as well. 

Semester two was difficult. I got my dissertation handed in at the start of the year but I was so burnt out from writing that I really couldn’t face writing after that. Design-wise the whole semester was very stressful with various important deadlines spread throughout. By May I was knackered and ended up taking the summer off just to get over the whole thing. 

I don’t want to say it’s been a letdown, but this last year has been weird. Considering all the work I’ve put into getting to this point, finishing university felt anticlimactic. I handed in my last pieces of work while watching the Monaco Grand Prix and that was it. Because I’m on a design course there would usually have been an end of year show but due to restrictions this was all cancelled. 

I’m glad I’ve made it to this point. It’s funny how this blog has followed me along on my journey. I started blogging right around the time I applied for college back in 2013. I love that now I’m applying for jobs I can put this down on my CV to show what I can do. But that whole end of university experience was nothing like I had expected. 

The Projects

If this had been 5 years ago I would have done elaborate blog posts talking about the design projects I did in my final year. But the internet has moved on and I don’t think that content is relevant enough for this website. However, this blog (along with a few other things) have inspired the direction of my work over the last year. If you want to see my design work you can head over to my portfolio where I have projects from the last two years. I’m also going to shamelessly plug my other Instagram account where I post my calligraphy work. 

Surprisingly enough the topic I chose for my dissertation fits very well with my blog. I won’t share the full dissertation because you probably don’t want to read all 6000 words of it. But I will be condensing parts into a series of blog posts. At some point I might write a post on how I produced the hard copy of my dissertation on a typewriter (yes, the typewriter was relevant to the dissertation). 

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Plans moving forward

Currently, I’m in the frantically-find-a-job part of post-university life. But I’ve also been working on a few other projects at the same time. I’m setting up an Etsy shop to sell greetings cards and fingers crossed print. I’m also now at the point where I can call myself a calligrapher (if you need a calligrapher please get in touch!). Eventually, the plan is to open a wee letterpress studio but I still have a lot of work to do to get to that point.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I also just want to apologise to the people who have left comments or emailed me over the last few months. I do read all of them, I just haven’t had time to respond to everyone. 

Hope you’re having a good day 🙂

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