As the coronavirus lockdown drags on, BSSC Year 12 student, Eden Dunstone, has discovered there are some surprising silver linings to the terrible cloud hanging over us.

Like so many of her fellow Victorian students, Eden has become adept at managing the many challenges of an education delivered online and a life lived at a distance to almost everyone she loves and enjoys spending time with.

While she misses these connections, and the buzz of classroom discussions, she has also found it’s required more effort to keep up her motivation second time around.

But Eden’s Year 12 experience has proved to her that she really can self-motivate, organise and prioritise her studies effectively. It’s even made her rethink the way she’ll study in the future.

Eden is planning a career as a Primary School Teacher and Swinburne offers the course online.

“They allow you to do extra units as you progress through the degree,” she says. “I’m hoping I might be able to complete the degree in three years rather than four.”

Drawn to teaching ever since she was a child, Eden has discovered as she’s matured how much she enjoys spending time with ‘little people’—a critical quality for anyone considering this pathway.

Eden came to BSSC from Bendigo South East. Despite arriving at the college with friends and excited to be starting VCE, she was also nervous about her first Year 12 class in Psychology. The thought of walking into a room of students a year ahead of her was quite daunting—until she discovered 70% of the class were Year 11 students!

BSSC has gone on to “tick all the boxes” for her and she particularly enjoys the way students are encouraged to interact with their teachers and the way teachers are so available and willing help in any way they can.

“I feel like they see me as an individual person and someone worth investing their time in,” she says. “Whenever I’ve contacted my Advisor, or a subject teacher, they’ve been amazing.

“It’s not that they don’t push you—they do—but it feels more like a positive thing; a supportive thing.”

While Eden is loving all her subjects, English Literature is her favourite this year—and not only because they are studying excellent literature such as the novel, The Secret Life of Bees.

“Part of the reason I love our Lit class is that Amy (Greenwood), our teacher, is so amazing,” Eden says. “Her passion for literature comes through in the way she runs our class discussions. It makes you want to be there and not miss a thing.”

One of the collateral benefits of these intense discussions is the way they’ve allowed Eden to discover connections with students she didn’t otherwise share a close bond with.

“It made me realise how differently everyone thinks and I really came to appreciate the diverse ways a book or issue can be interpreted,” she says.

Understandably, Eden is now really missing her Lit class and is very conscious that students just cannot interact online in the same way they can in a classroom.

Her ‘Hot Study Tip’ is to talk to your teachers.

“Even if you think it’s just a tiny thing that doesn’t matter so much, and even though it can be harder to keep contact when you are studying from home—if you don’t understand, speak up,” she says. “It helps tremendously.”

Eden is also studying Legal Studies, Further Maths and Studio Art Painting & Drawing.

Art is more than just a subject for her. Eden’s grandmother painted with oils and her mum is very artistic and has actively encouraged Eden’s own creativity.

“Before the pandemic I don’t think I noticed things—people, nature, the world in general—or appreciated them as intensely as I do now,” she says. “I think I was too busy, or maybe too distracted.

“I feel like I have new insights in my artwork and other students have said similar things to me.”

While Eden can still get out and walk or go for a run, more formal programs such as athletics or netball, which she has enjoyed in the past, are definitely off the menu… as is part-time work.

And though she has adapted to online learning and life in the slow lane—and can see there are positives to a lockdown—Eden is sad at the loss of “normal life”.

Like everyone else, she keeps in touch with extended family and friends through social media, but says it’s just not the same.

“What I really miss are the hugs and just hanging out with my cousins who I am really close to,” she says. “I hope we never take those simple freedoms for granted again or forget how much we all need each other.”

Eden is grateful to our leaders who have had to make huge decisions under immense pressure. And points out how they’ve also had to deal with people who have chosen not to cooperate.

The coronavirus may have turned the world upside down for people, but Eden has noticed that there may be some silver linings for the environment.

“I think there are signs that the environment is beginning to repair itself,” she says. “It’s shows that humans are the source of so much damage.

“I love being outdoors in the natural environment, but I also see the problems and the destruction people have caused there.”

So who are the people Eden admires most?

“Those who make daily efforts and simple choices to be good to the environment,” she says. “People who put rubbish in the bin. People who respect the world they live in.”

And, if Eden could go back in time and give her 12-year-old self some hard-won advice, what would it be?

“Things are going to happen that will make your feel down and you’ll even feel like you can’t keep going. But get up—you might even laugh about it later!”