A celebration of small wins: reflecting on Hillary

By Anna Bodman @annajbodman

I know I speak for the majority of Oxford students when I say that Hillary Term 2021, out of the three (!) online terms so far, has certainly been the most challenging. With increasing lockdown fatigue, combined with the shorter days and wet weather, these first few moths of 2021 have certainly been an uphill battle for all remote university students. I have certainly felt this shift, with also having to battle a hospital admission, my first experience of grief and escalating mental health issues alongside the academic demands of Oxford.


…but this isn’t the focus of my post. If you’re anything like me, you have spent too much time dwelling on the negatives of lockdown and all the aspects of Oxford you have missed out on because of the pandemic – and rightly so. However, today, I challenge you to reflect on the small wins of Hillary Term, here are mine…


My neurological condition meant I received the vaccine! I feel very thankful and, for the first time in a while, a little hopeful that there might be a way out of this pandemic sooner rather than later!


I also sat collections online and from home this term. I was dreading this but was pleasantly surprised that being in a familiar environment actually eased my exam anxieties and actually improved my performance – I was proud of my grades!


Many of my friends from school and college were also studying remotely, meaning that I could spend much more (socially distanced) time with them. I have a newfound appreciation for Costa dates on park benches.


…the same can also be said for time with my family as well. It was so nice to be home for events I would otherwise have missed such as Mother’s Day and (of course the most important day of the year) Pancake Day!


It also snowed and my town looked beautiful (for once!)


Virtual teaching has allowed me to take care of myself and my chronically ill body much more sensitively. I have enjoyed a more consistent sleep schedule, a lack of heavy rucksacks, more vegetables (lol) and having more energy to devote to non-university projects like internship applications! Lockdown really is made for us chronically ill lasses.


In the same vein, online extra-curricular and social events have been much more accessible this term with them being online! I have made the most out of my Union membership and have loved being able to continue volunteering with projects that I would otherwise have missed out on being in Oxford and not at home – my LinkedIn has never looked so good!


I also have a lot of appreciation for the online teaching format when I was making my paper choices for my finals. Having the option “fairs” online with the content available to re-watch countless times has greatly benefitted my indecisive nature, and I cannot wait to get started next term!


So, in reflection, it is very easy to focus on how overwhelmingly hard this term has been for students – because boy has it been hard. But as we head into the warmer and brighter moths, I challenge you to focus on any positives of lockdown you can think of, however small they may be, and treasure them.


…I mean I just ordered a dominoes to reward myself for leaving the house for 7 days in a row for the first time since March! Celebrate the small wins while the big things are not so great.