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A Day in the Life at Virtual Uni!

Picture of me in front of Edinburgh castle
Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Alex, BSc Geology and Physical Geography 

With the current global situation, first and second year exams have been cancelled and our teaching has been moved online. We were fortunate to already have had most of our teaching in person. Our classes have now ended but today I’m going to give you a rundown of what a typical day in virtual uni is like.

With most of my activities I’ve included some links and recommendations if you are looking for anything to do, and at the end of the blog I’ve compiled them into a list. Feel free to comment any suggestions you may have at the end!

8:30am – Breakfast

Usually, I began my day at 8:30 which is the same time as I’d get up for classes during the semester anyway (although this slowly progressed later and later as time went on). After my morning cup of tea and brekkie, I’d usually sit down and scroll through twitter for an hour or so until I feel a bit more awake and ready to do some work.

picture of breakfast

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

10am – Study

Even though our exams have been cancelled, I still try to keep up with lectures. Usually there wasn’t more than one being uploaded a day, so on the days without lectures I used the time to catch up on anything I missed. Different lecturers had different methods of teaching online. For Geophysics they were live on blackboard collaborate, which allowed us to interact with our lecturer, but could be held at difficult times for international students. In Global Tectonics and Rock Cycle our lecturer uploaded all of our lectures to lecture recordings for us to watch whenever it suited us. This method didn’t allow us to interact in real time but it meant we had more of a choice of when to watch, and we could email with any questions we had. In my Chinese class, questions and discussions were done through forums online.

Picture of study supplies

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Although classes have now finished. I still like to start my day with a bit of learning! If you want to learn something new I’d highly recommend, coursera is a free online learning platform with hundreds of mini courses (or MOOC’s), you can learn anything you want from languages to programming. Right now, I’m taking a course in palaeontology and one in MATLAB programming.

12pm – Language Learning

I’m currently learning Chinese, and although the circumstances aren’t great, the lockdown gave me a chance to practice. I am working towards my HSK 5 (equivalent to European Framework C1), I’m hoping to pass the exam this December so I can begin working towards the sixth and final level next year. Every day, I like to do an hour or so, even if it’s just a couple practice questions.

chinese book

What I’m currently reading!

If you are looking to learn a language, I’d recommend starting off using apps such as duolingo or quizlet, if you are more advanced, I like to listen to podcasts or read in my target language.

1pm – Lunch

Finally by 1pm its lunchtime! After lunch I usually like to relax a bit. One positive out of this experience has been a more flexible schedule and more time to pursue hobbies I haven’t had a chance to enjoy as often. A few things I’ve been enjoying are reading, baking and using my telescope. I’ve even had a chance to try some new things! With the money I saved on rent I was able to buy myself some roller skates and I’m learning to paint.

Using my telescope

Using my telescope on a clear night

2pm – Walk/Labs

By around 2pm I’m usually feeling quite restless, as with most geoscience students – I’m quite an outdoorsy person! Almost every day, I’ve made use of my one form of daily exercise and either went on a walk, jog or cycle to get some fresh air and keep fit.

carnoustie beach

Taken on my daily walk

On Mondays and Fridays my walks were cut short by our online labs! The labs were done through blackboard collaborate which meant they were interactive, although we were unable to use hand specimens or microscopes, we instead were given pictures of hand specimens and we had to use them as best as we could. Thankfully, there was a lot of computer based lab work too and we were able to use our home computers to do these parts. Some of the activities included measuring the size of drainage basins compared to alluvial fans to allow us to work out the relationship between them.

5pm – Spending Time with Family

Like many, I have a younger sister. She is only 11 and as with most kids, just wants to play all the time. I’ve really appreciated the time I’ve been able to spend with her recently. After my work is done for the day, I like to help her with schoolwork, or we can do a fun activity together. This week we’ve baked and went tadpole hunting on our bike ride.

picture of sister with homemade bird feeder

My sister with our homemade bird feeder!

If you have a younger sibling, Dynamic Earth online has some great resources to introduce them to science and the Earth. Last week we used the Dynamic Earth online to make our own homemade bird feeder. Sadly, living by the coast meant that the most interesting bird we got were seagulls, but it was still fun to make.

6pm – Dinner

One of my favorite things about being home with my parents is that I don’t have to cook! After living on pasta n sauce for the past two years, it’s been amazing having my Dad doing the cooking for the family.

7pm – Exercise

Another thing I’ve been able to get back in check this past month is my fitness. I’ve been following Chloe Ting’s workout challenges and already I’ve noticed an improvement in my fitness and strength! Most of her workouts can be done with only a fitness mat (I use an old towel instead), and most of them are under 15 minutes, so you don’t need to worry about it taking up the whole day.

Picture of workout equiptment

Photo by Derick McKinney on Unsplash

8pm – Relax

At about 8pm my productivity ends for the day and I like to watch a movie or read. This week my Dad and I have been binging the Mandalorian (final ep this week!!) and rewatching old Star Wars films.

So, there you have it, a typical day in virtual uni for me! Whilst my day can seem very busy (or rather relaxed depending on how you look at it), not everyone has the same kind of schedule. My flat mate who studies law, for example, is still having exams go ahead, whereas some of my other friends didn’t even have online classes!

Picture of me in front of Edinburgh castle

Wishing I was back in Edi! Photo by

I’d like to remind everyone that although I enjoy keeping busy during such an exceptional time, people have different coping strategies and spending your day playing animal crossing or baking banana bread is just as valid as going for a run!

Stay safe,

Alex – 2nd Year Geology



  • – online learning platform
  • – Edinburgh Uni short courses
  • Duolingo – language learning app
  • Quizlet – memory card app
  • – recipe website
  • – short workouts
  • – Earth Science activities (useful for younger siblings)
  • – baking recipes (lots of Scottish recipies if your missing Edinburgh bakeries!)


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