Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Anxious about the return to in-person learning

Hi Ainsley,

With September approaching, I am feeling anxious about returning to in-person learning. I am starting my second year at McGill after finishing the first one entirely online, and I have not had the chance to connect with a lot of people in my program. I feel a little lost socially.

What should I do?


Intimidated by Return to Live Learning (IRL)

Dear IRL,

Thank you for your question. Your feelings are totally valid; this past year and a half has forced a new reality onto students, and many have found adjusting to online learning to be a challenge. Now, students are expected to come back to campus, interact with classmates in person, and generally embrace pre-pandemic activities. That can be overwhelming and scary, especially for those who have gotten used to studying from home with limited social interaction. Remote learning can be particularly frustrating for second-year students, who may be familiar with their program, but not necessarily with the McGill campus and its student life. 

The first thing you can do is acknowledge your feelings and accept them. It is okay if you are feeling this way, not just because others probably are as well, but because letting yourself feel is so much healthier than repressing your emotions. If the anxiety is overwhelming you, try to reach out to family or friends who you feel would understand what you are going through. If they are unable to provide the advice, support, or reassurance you need, consider discussing your situation with a counsellor from the keep.meSAFE support program or the Student Wellness Hub. The keep.meSAFE counsellors are available 24/7 and covered by your student fees—you can reach them at 1-844-451-9700 within Canada and at 1-416-380-6578 internationally. 

If you are looking to connect with people from your program, your faculty or cohort may have a Facebook group through which you can interact with classmates. If you prefer to stay away from social media sites, McGill offers events and workshops through the  MyInvolvement portal. If you are a graduate student, consider attending the Grad Breakfast Club event offered on Mondays at 10:30 a.m., where graduate students discuss their week ahead. If you are an undergraduate student, check out the bimonthly Pandemic Drop-in Support event at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays. 

While club activity at McGill is more limited during the summer, you can check out the list of clubs on the SSMU website and email those you are interested in joining. Once September arrives, make sure to attend Activities Night, a biannual SSMU event that showcases all the ways to get involved in student life at McGill. In addition, you may find comfort within your program’s student association. For example, if you are an Engineering student, you can attend the events hosted by the Engineering Student Society, where you are guaranteed to meet people from your program. Eventually, you may even elect to run for an executive position and hold a leadership role.

These recommendations may not entirely remove your anxiety or your feeling of being lost socially, but they might ease you back into in-person learning and help you connect with other McGill students with similar emotions. With everyone having been distanced for so long, I am confident that the student life at McGill will return with renewed vibrancy. A positive outlook will be your best ally right now. 

Take care,


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