Starting university and moving into halls has been a very different experience to what I had first expected. Even with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, my first week or two went along relatively normally, going to the student union with my friends, going into town and generally just having a good time. Although the slight threat of actually contracting COVID loomed over us, none of us let that stop fresher’s week from being a great time. Once freshers had ended though, it got a bit more difficult- I ended up testing positive and have been self-isolating in my house with symptoms for a week.
Even from the first day I stepped on campus, things were noticeably different to previous years move-in experiences. I had to stand behind a plastic screen to get my ID, all of my keys and other needed materials were given to me in a plastic wallet so as to minimise contact with the Uni staff. I was allowed to take one person with me to help me move in, and I only had an hour- which meant I had to move very quickly to get my room completely set up. It was difficult, but we made it happen. It was an odd experience, being on my own in a house meant for 5- nobody else had moved in yet. But from then on, me and my housemates that eventually moved in had a great time- drinking, laughing and generally having fun.
Then the pubs started to close, and there were a few cases being reported at the university- nothing to worry about, this was to be expected. I went about my week, going into the campus and taking classes, doing my online lectures- meeting friends and trying my best to find some form of normalcy in this weird time. But then there was more and more cases, more of my friends were isolating and one of them tested positive. This person had met with one of my flatmates, who then tested positive herself, meaning we all had to take tests and self-isolate until the results came through.
I’d expected all of my house to test positive, but it turned out just to be me- which was a very weird feeling. I was upset and angry at the fact that I’d just moved into my new home and a new city, but I couldn’t leave to experience everything that I wanted to. I never expected, even from the start of all of this, to end up actually having the virus, I thought I’d manage to avoid it somehow. A lot of people are saying that it’s just like a bad cold- which I’m personally inclined to disagree with. However, I know that the symptoms are different for everyone, for example, I couldn’t smell anything the day before and the day that I had my test done.
The university have been great about everything- sending emergency food packages in case we couldn’t get anyone to do a shop for us, collecting our bins so we don’t have to go and possibly spread anything when outside of the house and calling every now and then to check if we are doing okay- both physically and mentally. It’s that kind of support that makes the self-isolation better than if we were left completely in the dark and alone. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t surrounded by an amazing support network of friends and family at this time, because being stuck inside my house for a long time is very difficult for me.
Living at University and also having Coronavirus is a stark contrast to what I had ever imagined- I thought I’d be out every night, spending time at the University with friends and enjoying this brand-new chapter of my life. Instead, I’m stuck inside and doing online lectures in a very practical subject, which is a bit difficult to do, but I make sure that I have an active role in everything that my class does, so as not to fall behind.
In times like this, the only way to combat the stress is to stay positive and try to see the brighter side of things, and keep occupied and make sure to stay happy, always.