The First Year University Experience: Coronavirus Edition
Being a fresher is overwhelming enough. Moving to a new city, moving in with people you don’t know, adapting to living without parents, and dealing with the uni workload are just some of the challenges that we were all faced with when we started at Bath. However, myself and the rest of this year’s Fresher cohort have had a wholly different set of challenges to face, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
I found the news that the university was shutting intensely difficult to deal with. I really felt like I had found my place at university in the weeks just before COVID really started to ramp up here in the UK.I felt like I’d found my people thanks to the weightlifting team and being involved in SU Officer campaigns week, and finally started to feel like I “Belonged at Bath” as the University advertising says. Yet, being faced with the fact that all my friends were moving back home, my team had stopped training and some of the people I thought I had the rest of the year with, had effectively said goodbye to Bath forever, I was left feeling in a very strange place.
I felt awfully stuck between wanting to say goodbye to my final year friends who were moving away, but also wanting to protect them, their families and others in our community by following social distancing guidelines.My university experience had gone from doing the sport I loved, spending time with friends and going out to being holed up in my Eastwood room all day every day staring at the same four walls and doing my work – not exactly what I thought Semester 2 of First Year would look like.
Despite all this, nothing has made me feel like I do “Belong at Bath” than the response that both the University and The SU have made on the pastoral side and in the community during this outbreak. Something as small as getting involved in the “Corona Community” group on Facebook or the free food being offered at the Lime Tree, and the University’s support for the RUH staff in the form of donating food and PPE to staff has genuinely brightened my days, and made these four walls feel more like a home. While there are still many academic questions left unanswered, these moments have been like the sun peeking through the clouds of stress and anxiety that have weighed over me recently.
Being away from my support network is tough, I can’t go home for a number of reasons and will probably be in Bath until term starts up again. But for now, I am grateful in my isolation, though my university experience has for the moment altered, I am beginning to learn and appreciate the “new normal” here.
Please continue to stay safe and stay at home. Collectively following government guidelines means this will all be over quicker, and we can ensure lives are saved and our NHS is looked out for. Keep yourself social – reach out to friends online, Facetime each other, and make group chats. This will all be over soon!