From a Postgraduate student:
When I applied to study at Leeds to do a Masters, I knew I was coming into it with the understanding that COVID-19 would impact my studies in one way or another.
If anything, the only impact it’s had upon me is that I still don’t feel like a university student; I think that is because I haven’t been able to collect my Student ID, the only reason being is I’m scared to travel to campus, while virus cases in Leeds are on the rise.
For me, coming back to university this year was always going to be a commute situation at best, and at worst, online learning. Luckily, online learning is not new to me. I have done several online courses to improve my job prospects, as well as training to be a Beaver Scout Leader. The only difference is that I now have set deadlines for tasks and activities, whereas in the past, they have been vague.
In a way, it has meant that I have been able to continue with my “normal” life. I can still go to work and do everything I have been doing these past few weeks. It’s just the university experience of meeting people in person that I’m missing.
To anyone in the same situation, I would recommend taking advantage of video seminars to talk to people about your subject and joining societies to see what online events they have. That way, you can make best of a bad situation!
From a Third-Year Undergraduate student:
I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences since returning for my final year of studying Sociology here at Leeds.
One of my housemates was recently contacted through NHS Track and Trace. She is a final year student studying Theatre and Performance and it is therefore imperative that she is present for workshops at university. However, it was through her course that she encountered someone who later displayed symptoms. We have been doing all that we can to keep each other positive, including making a long list of activities and films we can watch on our communal whiteboard. From yoga to baking, we have been keeping as busy as possible, and recently enjoyed watching the popular series of the summer ‘’Normal People’’ together.
For those in their second and third years of university, I cannot imagine it is nearly as stressful or lonely as those just starting their university degrees. Living in university halls can be extremely daunting at the best of times. I fear most for the first-year students who have just touched down in a brand new city, feeling both enthusiastic and anxious at the same time. I worry that it will be harder for these students to develop a supportive social network in Leeds during their first few months here.
If you are struggling during your time at university, there are many people you can speak to for help, whether it be your senior tutor, friends, flat mates or family. The Leeds University Union also has amazing facilities, such as the Help and Support website, Nightline and drop-in counselling sessions.
Unfortunately, many are claiming that it is students who are to blame for the current spike in cases, being accused of acting recklessly and egotistically, despite being aware of the current circumstances. Yet from my personal experience, I know of no one who has not been following the government guidelines, as we naturally respect that we should be doing everything that we can to keep one another safe. However, the unfortunate reality is that individuals can catch the virus simply from going to the supermarket or out for exercise. I think it’s clear to see that mistakes have been made in the management of this situation, albeit unprecedented. Sadly, students are the ones being scapegoated within the media and public discourse.
Many students will not consider themselves to be particularly at risk, unless they have a pre-existing health condition, which means they are more vulnerable, yet our lives have been so severely impacted. Many of us are having to adapt to completely online teaching and a lack of access to support and resources. I am relieved that my tutors have been extremely reassuring and helpful, but I do feel disappointed that my quality of learning, as well as life, during my final year at univeristy is going to be so greatly impacted.
I hope that everyone reading this is staying as safe and positive as possible during such uncertain times.
Words By: Katy Colbert and Olivia Snelson
Edited By: Mary White