6 Tips to Students for Adapting to the “New Normal”

Juggling online courses can come with a unique set of challenges. To help you stay on top of your academic journey and maintain a sense of well-being during this period of physical distancing, faculty from the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies offer six tips to students for adapting to the “new normal”.

Respondents include Drs. Luisa Canuto (Instructor of Italian), Juliet O’Brien (Lecturer of French), Brianne Orr-Álvarez (Instructor of Spanish), and Iris Escuer Riera (Lecturer of Spanish).


1. Communicate

“Asking for help and helping others is the ‘new normal’. We hope that students will do this with us, and we’ll also be asking for help from students in return. We’re all peers in the COVID-19 situation.” – Juliet O’Brien, Lecturer of French

“Communicate your needs or preferences—what does or does not work for you in the online setting—with your instructors.” – Brianne Orr-Alvarez, Instructor of Spanish

2. Attend class

“Even if you don’t feel like it, you’ll learn more by attending class ‘sleepily’ than if you don’t go at all. Attendance and active participation are vital and contribute to your final grade. If you find yourself missing a class and not caring, that’s a warning sign that it’s time to talk. You might be surprised by how sympathetic we are in relation to mental health issues and more.” – Juliet O’Brien, Lecturer of French

3. Pace yourself

“Establishing small habits and adopting behaviours that make you feel in control of your learning is important for academic success. While the number of assignments may seem daunting at first, it does invite learners to pace themselves. I often say to my students to just follow the course structure and do assignments within the timeframe that we suggest. We, instructors, have spent a lot of time thinking about how long each assignment takes to achieve the learning objectives, so you will find it very useful to follow our directions.” – Luisa Canuto, Instructor of Italian

5. See the new situation as an opportunity

“Look at this situation as an opportunity to educate yourself—like learning a new language, virtually ‘visiting’ different museums, listening to podcasts, cooking new (Italian!) dishes, etc.—to pursue aspects of your life that you didn’t have time for before this crisis.” – Luisa Canuto, Instructor of Italian

6. Stay connected

“My advice is to stay constantly connected with your instructor and your classmates. The sense of belonging is one of the strongest forces to keep us going, so commit to engaging in whichever form that’s best for you. Not only will you benefit from it, but it will also contribute to a fine education at UBC.” – Iris Escuer Riera, Lecturer of Spanish


Student Resources During COVID-19

Explore UBC’s student resources related to health, well-being, financial aid, and more:


Published June 2, 2020