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School of Law

Studying law while being in a complete lockdown in northern Italy

Second Year Law Student Tommaso Salvatore reflects on studying during lockdown and offers some tips for first year students

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I am a second year law student enrolled on the English and European law module. Last year when university moved classes online I decided to go back home, in the north of Italy which was in complete lockdown and at the pinnacle of the sanitary emergency. Starting university is a big step, but starting university during these unprecedented times requires a huge amount of adjustments. I thought it could be useful, especially for first year students to get some advice on how to follow courses from home during this out of the ordinary situation.

When studying in London, I studied at the library and when I got home it was relax time. The distinction between relax time and work time is fundamental in my opinion. Studying from home in the same environment, where you work, live, relax in the same place 24/7 in a lockdown situation implies two major risks:

I realized that the physical lack of distinction between your work life and personal life environments caused an urge to always need to be studying, or re-watching past lectures leading you into a “burnout”.

The other risk is also due to the lack of distinction between work space and relax space, but in the opposite way. Being home constantly during lockdown might convey the feeling of being permanently stuck on a “Sunday mood”. What I mean by this is, that you might not feel the need to dress up and stay in your PJs all day and just watch Netflix with your family without even realising that it is actually Wednesday morning and that you should be at your contract law lecture on Zoom.

I will tell you how I ensured to take all the precautions to mitigate these two risks.

Communication with people who live with you:

It is fundamental to let people know that you will be busy between certain times. This is for two reasons, the first is so that they avoid distracting you during that lapse of time and the second one is that they might remind you if you tend to enter the “Sunday mood”.

The work environment:

Try to keep it as tidy as possible, this will help you to focus and will prevent things from distracting you. If you have the possibility to choose another room (where you are not bothered by the rest of the household) to study in other than in your room I would highly suggest this as this helps to create a distinction between work space and relax space. This will help you to be more focused and will boost your productivity.

Study time:

This is controversial because I know some people prefer to study at different hours of the day/night. However, what I learnt at university, especially studying law is that you need to be 100% focused and attentive. Thus, studying at night is not really my thing. I would suggest considering studying as your full time nine to five job. I would suggest you to avoid studying before or after that because after a full day of nine to five productive working you will have definitely done a lot of work and you would risk going in a “burnout” if you worked more. You also need to take a lunch breaks and every hour and a half I suggest taking a 5-10 min break to speak with a family member or just simply exit the work space.

Set reasonable goals:

Plan out your monthly agenda and set daily goals and strive to achieve them. If you do, reward yourself, if you do not, you should consider if the goal was achievable or if you procrastinated. In the case of the latter try to avoid the distraction the following days, remove the novel you are reading from the workspace and leave it in your relax space, turn of your phone or simply refrain speaking with your siblings if they barge into the work space.

I hope that this brief message might help you out in case of another lockdown situation.