With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, students around the world were forced to make changes to how they approached their studies. For post-secondary students, that meant transitioning to online learning.

Benjamin Foster is a fourth-year chemistry major at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alta. The chemistry program has not been available at the institution for long.

“The chemistry major started while I was in general science so it’s only been around for like three years and I’ve been there for all three,” said Foster.

Foster was one of the first group of students to be accepted to the program. After having been in general science for a few years, Foster made his way into the chemistry program where he found his passion.

“If you’ve ever worked in a lab and you get to like, pour one thing in a test tube into another, it’s exactly like it is in the movies and it just… never stops being fun to me,” said Foster.   

Transition to online

In March of 2020, much like most post-secondary students in Canada, Foster was pushed from in-person classes to an online environment.

The transition was not easy and Foster soon found himself trying to participate in his regular labs in an at-home environment.

“I’ll call it unstructured, or an act of spontaneous improvisation by my professors every single week, as they just had to come up with something that we could do at home.” said Foster.

Those experiments included things such as measuring pleasure change using cardboard tubes, or measuring velocity by tying an eraser to a light stand.

With the experiments not up to university level, Foster longed to return back to the classroom. He was able to do so in March of 2022 after two years of online education.

Although, with the return to the classroom, Foster could not completely ignore the risks involved. With COVID-19 cases still high in Alberta, Foster has continued to take promotions such as maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask while in public.     

Lessons from the pandemic

Ben Foster works on some math homework from his couch in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster tries to work on his homework while his dog Radley begs for attention in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster works on homework while his pets watch on in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster relocates to his desk to do some studying in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster does his math homework in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster does his math homework in Calgary on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)
Ben Foster, right, sits on the couch with his girlfriend, Rachel in Calgary on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (Photo by Rory Carroll/SAIT)

However, because of the ever-changing restrictions and the on again off again return to the classroom, Foster has learned a few valuable lessons that will stick with him because of his experience doing University during a pandemic.

“I’ve learned not to not worry about when things are finished, so much. Just kind of take it as it comes and plan for the long term, whenever the long term might be, instead of hoping it gets done sooner.”

Watch the documentary Patience below

 

Rory Carroll is a second-year graduating photojournalism major at SAIT. You can find more of his work on his Instagram here.

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