It comes as no surprise that the COVID-19 global pandemic has completely disrupted our way of living. From work to personal life, we have all been affected in similar ways.
St. Andrews has adopted a model of dual delivery of teaching in Autumn 2020 for those who may not be able to attend psychically. The plan is to undertake a phased approach to the provision of in-person teaching in St Andrews when the new semester begins on September 14th. This means that only those classes categorized as essential for in-person teaching will take place in that form, with a gradual increase of in-person teaching during the first seven weeks of the semester.
We had a chance to speak with the current scholars Marika Schenkels, Malcom Risk and Katherine Lacroix about their quarantine experience as well as their overall thoughts on the pandemic and this upcoming year.
"Leaving St. Andrews in mid-March midway through the semester, with so many goodbyes left unsaid and academic work left unfinished was difficult, but was made a lot sweeter knowing that my family in Nova Scotia was waiting for me at home. Early in the spring, a friend of mine told me that one day we would look at this time as a gift, and I couldn’t agree with her more. I made some incredible memories with friends and family, whether it was hiking around our beautiful province, exploring beaches we’d never been to, or just laughing and talking in our living room. As well, I was lucky enough to undertake some very meaningful work experience in a local walk-in clinic that was affected due to the pandemic, as well as working for a research group and conducting my own research.
I write this from my flat on North Street, where I am quarantining as per UK Government guidelines. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of wonderful girls who are doing it with me, so we’ve been having fun decorating, cooking, watching movies and getting our exercise in our garden (or living room if it’s rainy, as it has been lately!). I think this year has been and will continue to be a testament to our ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome any challenges we are faced with. I believe as well that it will be an opportunity to develop relationships in a more authentic, genuine way, with smaller gatherings and events. I hope that as a student body we can come together and foster an environment that is responsible and supportive, to keep everyone in our beautiful town happy, healthy, and most importantly, safe. As always, I am so thankful for the support from the McEuen Foundation. Even a year later, I still have to pinch myself that I get to study here. I am so excited for the year to come, which I’m sure will bring new adventures and successes, despite the new world we find ourselves living in.”
"Despite the disruption at the end of the school year, my exams went well, and I was able to adjust to remote learning without too much trouble. Not being able to see friends and family during the pandemic has been a little trying, as I am sure it has been for most of us.
During the summer I worked with an epidemiologist developing code to facilitate research on longevity in Academy-Award winning actors and actresses. Although the work wasn’t COVID-19 related, it was deeply interesting and has had a significant effect on my career aspirations. I wrote the GRE this summer and I’m planning to apply to biostatistics PhDs this fall.
Although I was planning to return to St Andrews if circumstances permitted it, I would not have done so without a certain amount of concern. The university’s plan to return in-person should have contained far more ambitious policies to restrict the spread of COVID-19. St Andrews should be following the lead of many US universities in testing all international students on arrival, and continuing to test students throughout the semester, regardless of whether they have symptoms. I also feel that the university needed to have a clearer plan to prevent off-campus gatherings such as house parties. I have faith in most students at St Andrews to respect social distancing rules, but it would be wilful blindness to trust all students to act responsibly. The community in Fife has been incredibly welcoming to St Andrews students and failing to do everything possible to ensure their safety constitutes a betrayal of trust.
I hope to be back in St Andrews for second semester. Most events and classes in first semester are online regardless so I still plan to participate in student life as best I can"
"As lockdown measures were implemented in March, I found myself happily completing the semester supporting and with the support of my loved ones. I am indebted to them as I proudly announce that my name will be placed on the Dean’s List for academic excellence over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year.
As I prepare for entering Honours studies in the fall, my research interests remain on the place of women in the popular imagination, specifically through a feminist approach to art historical and political analysis in examining the intersection of gender and violence. This summer, I am working as a research assistant to Dr. Marika Takanishi Knowles in the construction of the proposal, handbook, and preliminary lecture materials for her forthcoming honours module: The Quarrel of Women in French Art. Using a thematic approach, this module will investigate the way that attitudes towards gender and its representation have inflected the development of French art from the early modern period to the late nineteenth century. My charge covers two areas: the decoration and iconography of the Valois court at Fontainebleau during the sixteenth century, and nineteenth century photography, particularly the oeuvre of Lady Clementina Hawarden and stereographic pornographic photography. These distant mandates will aid Dr. Knowles in creating content for thematic clusters she has identified as indispensable to the module: court politics and patronage, female artists, the representation of female sex workers and gender and genre. I am enthralled by the topic and humbled by the trust Dr. Knowles has vested in me with this innovative teaching project.
I am, once again, eternally obliged to the McEuen Scholarship Foundation for allowing me both an exceptional adventure and the comfort of exclusive attention to my studies and charitable work during my undergraduate degree. Without the Foundation’s support, I would not be able to devote such care and time to these meaningful organisations and research initiatives so early in my career. The challenges of our generation will require all peoples to answer apathy with involvement, division with acceptance and hate with compassion."