Why go to university? (COVID-19 edition)
It’s been a long year since Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic. Having undertaken roughly half of my undergraduate degree in pandemic conditions, I thought I’d share my experiences and some advice regarding university life in these strange times. I’ll be talking about why it’s definitely still worth embarking on your university experience, despite the potential uncertainties that come with starting university in the midst (or hopefully, end!) of this pandemic.
You gain an enormous sense of independence – coming to university, as cheesy as it may sound, has completely transformed how independent I feel. From the simplest things – doing my own food shopping and cleaning, to more complex matters like working out bills, I really feel that coming to university has the ability to turn everyone into adults very quickly.
This year, despite certain things being restricted, the level of independence you’ll gain will be just the same! Even in lockdown, nothing changed in terms of my independent responsibilities both in terms of my student house and general living, and my studies. In fact, the only time my sense of independence was disrupted, was in the first lockdown, which I spent at home. As close as I am with my family, I found myself really missing the independent part about being at university.
You meet new people – this is without a doubt one of the best things about coming to university. Now, I won’t unnecessarily sugar coat it – the pandemic has impacted the ability to branch out and meet new faces, due to nights out and other face to face social events being cancelled! However, I have met some great people in an entirely online context this year. I joined a society, and became part of the exec for that society, all through Microsoft Teams! This definitely proved to me that I can still meet new people in these conditions. While I’d love to meet my fellow exec members in person, I feel like I am not missing out hugely, as we have great conversations online!
You experience new things – similar to my previous point, there are obviously limits to the social experiences available in the current environment. I wont lie, the experience of club nights and other events in fresher’s week really helped me to settle into university. However, even if there are some restrictions due to COVID when you start, there will still be online events.
Also, you’ll be with a flat, and there is nothing stopping you from getting together in your kitchen for a flat party! This year, my housemates and I have made a habit of having a mini house party, just for the 6 of us (on some nights it’s only been 4!) – we put on music, put on our disco light that we purchased for a laugh on Amazon, and make cocktails! While, sure, we miss going ‘out out’ – we can still look back on these experiences with happiness!
Societies have also been brilliant throughout the pandemic, hosting a range of online events. Last week I took a free online yoga class, and various societies have been running their own socials – from Netflix party to joint sessions of the game Among us. Away from the social life side of things, there have even been opportunities to volunteer online.
You delve deeper into a subject of interest – last but not least, this is pretty much a determining factor in your choice of university, right? You come to university to experience all of the above, but also, to further your education in a field of interest. I can definitely say that my department have adapted brilliantly to online conditions. All of my lectures have been uploaded promptly onto Moodle, and my seminars have been very interactive – if anything, I contribute more online as it’s less nerve wracking from behind a screen! Even in my practical modules, the conditions have felt very ‘normal’. For instance, last term I had a teaching module, in which I had to teach English to a class of students, who would normally come into university. This was converted online via weekly Zoom classes with the students, and I felt I gained a lot from it!
So, I hope this blog has highlighted some of the great things about coming to university, and why so much is still on offer, even if things are a little different when you come. Good luck with your applications!