The bimodial student experience

Posted on Friday, January 7, 2022

By: Lukas Redmond

As I sit here, like so often, typing on my laptop in the comfort of my room, I look back on my campus experiences.

When I came to the University of Ottawa in 2020 as a first-year student, it was amid a global pandemic, which had ended Grade 12 a little earlier than expected and forced me into a university world that I was slightly under-prepared for.

When I first walked through the doors of the 90U residence, I was very nervous. I didn’t know anyone except for my friend from home who was also living there. My roommate hadn’t reached out to me before move-in day so I had no idea what he would be like.

The move-in experience was #awkward. When I got out of the car in the residence parking lot, my parents immediately started talking to some random guy’s parents and decided it would be a great idea to introduce their son to me. It was one of the most awkward interactions I had ever had. Waiting by the 90U elevator to move my belongings into my room was excruciatingly long. However, almost immediately, someone came up to me and introduced themselves.

This would be a reoccurring theme for my first-year experience. After what seemed like an eternity of lockdown and not being able to see anyone, everyone was eager to meet people and make new friends. My roommate ended up being a really nice dude who was super relaxed with whatever shenanigans I got up to, and even supported some of my wackier ideas, which ended up being a lot of fun. Overall, the people I met in residence were very friendly and really helped set me up for a good university experience.

In first year, I decided to form an intramural soccer team. I posted on my Instagram story to try and get people to join. A few people responded and we had enough of us to make a team. We were so excited to play. We picked the WAPs as our team name and signed up for the competitive league. This may have been a mistake, because we got to our first game and lost 9-2.

Unfortunately, that would be the last game we ended up playing, as Ontario went into another lock-down and the intramural season got cancelled.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, we decided to try again. We registered for competitive intramural soccer, and so far, we’ve lost every game. That’s not a big deal, though, because it’s so much fun.

All of my first-year classes had ended up being online because of these “unprecedented times.” So, in second year, I jumped at the opportunity to take in-person classes for the first time. They were better than expected.

I walked into my first class on a Thursday afternoon kind of nervous but at the same time relieved that connectivity issues no longer limited my ability to hear the professor.

Before going into class, I walked over to the biggest group I could find, hoping to see someone I would recognize, and to my surprise, I saw quite a few people that I knew. I was quickly added to a group chat with others in the class, which ultimately helped with some of the harder assignments to come.

Something I realized about in-person classes is that I could focus more on the lectures. When I sit at home in my bed for lectures, as nice as it is, I get easily distracted by notifications and tabs on my computer. I end up losing focus too often. With in-person classes it’s a bit harder to sit and scroll through Tik Tok.

During my first term of second year, I had four bimodal courses.

Two were taught by one of the most unique professors I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. When he first walked into the class, I was a little caught off guard. He didn’t look like the average professor. He started the lecture off by saying that we wouldn’t have in-person for very long because we’d just be going to go into another lock-down by October (little did he know it came in January 2022). He was strict about students who arrived late, which is understandable, but overall wasn't my favourite professor. 

But that’s the only bad in-person class experience with a professor I’ve really had. I enjoyed the in-person component of the bimodal system because of how personal it is. It really helps you build a connection with the profs teaching you and keeps you invested in the class.

One thing I find funny is that when I have my 8:30 a.m. class in person and it’s wet and cold, only a few people show up. The advantage to attending, no matter the weather, is that I’m able to have a nice conversation with the professor before class. Although I've had quite a few conversations with him over the term, he still somehow doesn't know my name - he must have quite a large cohort of students.

Overall, I’m looking forward to returning to in-person classes, when it is safe to do so. They help you focus more, you meet lots of people in your program and you get the occasional funny story about a professor’s quirks.


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