Since February, when I started attending UCD’s Innovation Academy, we’ve been presented with a variety of daily challenges, everything from building lego ducks (not kidding) to real life industry problems, to doing some empathy research on umbrellas (yes fellow students, that was us pestering you about your umbrella use…in the rain). So, when coronavirus struck and we were banished from campus, I did briefly wonder if the Innovation Academy had somehow managed to bring the country to a grinding halt just to see what solutions their current students would present. Covid-19, and the world closes. Such a novel idea. I began to imagine a life with blissfully cooperative children frolicking in the garden sunshine for hours on end as pseudo husband passes me a sparkly chilled drink with a piece of colourful fruit floating within, my heavenly notion is short lived as the reality of living in my tiny open plan house (with just one bathroom) and my immediate family, swiftly kicks in.

Day 1 of virtual college and I was in a flap. Typically, I am wildly allergic to technology and so much to my displeasure at having been thrust into the chasm of conference calls, I found myself abruptly troubled with how the house looked and freaking out a bit as I, pseudo husband and the offspring played musical desks. As class began, how it suddenly occurred to me to wonder if my daughter had picked up her dirty undies from the floor. As a student and a mother of a nine and five-year-old, my current daily challenge is keeping my children alive and entertained. The ugly realities of the lack of desk space, various devices overheating and the groans of frustration emerging from every room as the WIFI blinks in and out as it’s taxed to the hilt, are unearthed. Two weeks in and, like something out of a William Golding novel, the offspring have turned feral and have adopted a certain savagery. Every five minutes or so, I hear the beginnings of a mutiny downstairs as war rages over who gets the last choccie rice cake, with intermittent profanities from pseudo husband as he treads on another stray, naked to his 54 year old eye, miniscule piece of lego. 

But my biggest realisation during this peculiar time is the wonderful sense of community spirit that has reawakened in people. Everyday, no really, every-single-day, I receive, via various communication platforms, a humbling mixture of memes, videos, texts and gifs, each magnificently detailing the humour of the situation and offering resources to fill the time. I’m just going to stop right there and take a breath…How to fill the time?! Are you kidding me?! When exactly, between the remote working, the Brightspace virtual classroom, the zoom assemblies with the school Principal and the offspring savagery (including pseudo husband’s), is Yoga with Adriene or a binge watch of Tiger King supposed to fit in? I asks ya?! Where do people get off distributing this stuff? It preys on my underlying anxiety of FOMO and now my phone memory has it in for me too FFS! From attending to the sourdough starter (yes, apologies, that was me you fought in the home baking aisle in SuperValu yesterday for the last bag of Odlums), to pandering to my tameless youth, there is no time left! If anything, my life has become busier tenfold since the lockdown and I curse Coronavirus for it!

Thankfully, the Innovation Academy encourages a touch of tom foolery and childlike behaviour so when it all turns to custard and the home school hub doesn’t work, both kids join me in the virtual UCD classroom and are welcomed with open virtual arms. 

Sadly, I may never step foot on campus again as the course is due to finish in June. Ah well I guess I’ll never be able to gate-crash that elusive ‘University Club’ after all, unless President Deeks is reading this and wants to throw me a free pass? 

Ding! Ah no, another meme!…DELETE!


Rachel Thornburgh – Columnist