This school year has been difficult for every college student, especially UMPI Post-Baccalaureate student Emily Miller, who is adapting to online learning from outside of the country in Canada. Emily is from Nova Scotia and is in her first year at UMPI as a Physical Education major. In a normal year, Emily would have lived on campus, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S./Canadian border closing, Emily decided to continue her UMPI education at home.
As a Post-Baccalaureate student, Emily already has her Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation and was originally planning to work in a seniors facility after graduation. She had always wanted to go into teaching and, after being out of school for a year, she decided to go back for her teaching certification. Once she was accepted into the Education program, Emily found her place at UMPI and began to pursue her degree in PE.
As someone taking classes virtually and at home, college life is very different for Emily compared to her classmates who live in the U.S. Taking online classes at UMPI has given her a college experience that is very different from other students. It can be difficult to make connections with people at UMPI when all of your classes are online. Although these experiences are hard, Emily is making the most out of it.
“My experience as a Canadian student has been wonderful so far,” Emily said. “I wish I was able to experience campus life and meet my classmates, but I am really enjoying my courses overall and everyone I have been in contact with so far are all wonderful!”
With COVID-19 offering no end in sight, it has had a different effect on each country. Canada and the U.S. are handling COVID-19 in their own ways and Emily has seen this firsthand as someone who is taking classes at a university in America. She has been observing different regulations for going into the schools in the U.S. and Canada. This was difficult when Emily was trying to find placements in Canada for her observations as a PE major. Since Emily is staying home for her classes, she has been able to see Canada’s regulations for COVID-19 up close.
“Things have definitely changed these last few months, but we are living in our ‘new normal’. In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, we have been very good at following health protocols, with wearing masks within the stores, restaurants, schools, etc,” Emily said.
Her connection to faculty and staff members at UMPI has been much different than other students as she is taking class remotely, in another country. Communication with professors and advisors is done through Zoom, email or phone. She hasn’t been able to meet anyone on campus in-person, but despite this, she is still feeling welcome at UMPI.
“The professors are all very organized and supportive and are great at getting back right away with any questions or concerns I have. Faculty and staff members have been amazing and very understanding and accommodating throughout the pandemic,” Emily said. “I feel like even being a student distantly, I still have a great support network within the UMPI community.”
Staying positive during a global pandemic can be challenging, especially when you don’t know what the future may hold. Emily created a schedule to keep herself on track with everything she needs to do. She does lots of yoga from home in her spare time. Emily also takes her dog out for walks as much as possible. This month a new ringette league started up in her hometown, which is a similar sport to hockey and something Emily played in college during her undergraduate years.
“Having the support of my loved ones has truly helped me stay positive during the pandemic. I love keeping busy, which also helps me stay positive, and making sure that I see my friends throughout the week as well,” Emily said.
After graduation, Emily hopes to get a job working as a physical education teacher for an elementary school or high school. Emily believes that more recreational therapist jobs will be available in the future, so she could potentially use her previous degree in that field as well.
With these major world events happening, Emily has plenty of time to reflect on the year. Although these events have been challenging, Emily thinks it is important to stay connected to your loved ones and support one another. Taking small steps in life and trying to be more appreciative of what you have is something that everyone can do.
“One thing I already took away from these major world events is how much I took for granted the small things in life. Spending time with my family and friends, having conversations with people in person and even something as simple as giving someone a hug,” Emily said. “Once we are allowed to be with people again, I know I will appreciate my time with people and feel more present in the conversations I have.”