It is an undisputed fact that the 2020 school year, and calendar year has presented challenges and obstacles that we have never been presented with. The global pandemic has altered daily tasks such as running to Tesco and spontaneous library sessions, and these are just a few of the various mundane and harmless effects of the current world situation. When comparing my Martinmas semester of first year to this year’s, I am disheartened by my lack of involvement in extracurricular events, especially with the increased availability of opportunities.
During my first year here at St Andrews, I found myself going to every society event, hall social, or guest lecture possible, both for the entertainment and opportunity to meet new people and feel involved in the university community. This year, the motivations I had no longer fit the circumstances of virtual events, and with this has come a revaluation of what these opportunities mean to me. While I no longer feel the same desire to attend as many events as I can, I’ve found the virtual events that I do attend are ones that I am genuinely interested in and are things to look forward to throughout the week. There has also been an unforeseen positive effect of the numerous online activities this semester: the ability to participate from wherever, whenever, and for however long you want.
This past week, my flatmates and I contemplated attending the St Andrews Union Debating Society debate about capitalism and sustainability. After a short discussion on when our schedules would align and if we could watch it live, we realized we had the perfect solution. We watched the recorded debate, titled “This House Believes Sustainable Capitalism is Impossible,” on YouTube from the comfort of our kitchen while making dinner a few days after the actual event had taken place. The debate provided something for us to discuss, and it gave us the chance to spend time together without the anxiety of in-person pandemic concerns. I’ve also developed a greater appreciation for the accessibility of online events for the various and valid reasons students cannot or choose not to attend in person. While I will continue to look forward to the day when in-person events are safe again, I am growing to appreciate and understand the privilege to still have events to attend.