Ah Wales. The land of the sheep, rugby, and the free according to the national anthem (translated, that is). The little country up north west who’s language is making a comeback thanks to compulsory learning.
While I could talk about how cool it is(seeing as it’s been my home for almost 19 years), my concern today is the recent circuit breaker they’ve gone through. You might remember a few weeks ago, that Wales had their own lockdown; the Circuit Breaker. While many people could go and stay at home for two weeks, what about the students?
Over the course of three weeks, I asked 4 students from different parts of Wales about their experiences before, during, and as their lockdown was ending.
Hannah, who’s studying Mathematics in Aberystwyth, was quite neutral about the lockdown situation at the start of the week.
“I mean, it’s quite strict up here already, so it didn’t really make much of a difference.”
“…They didn’t really change it to be honest.”
“I’d probably put stricter things in place… from what I thought they’ve just been turning people away”
During the lockdown, she does say it feels weird with more limitations in place, and humour in the non-essentials ban.
“Lidl was absolutely rammed…. People have started to, like, panic buy again…”
“That makes me giggle, cause if you’re lightbulb breaks, you can’t go and buy another lightbulb, but you can go and buy some vodka.”
(About mental health) – “It’s not lockdown, it’s the fact that I’m in uni away from home and I’m not with my family or friends, uhhh, that’s the bigger issue. Not the fact that I’m in lockdown because the fact that I can’t go home makes me think ‘uhh, so when can I go home?’“
Imaan, who moved down to Cardiff to study Economics and Management Studies, isn’t too happy about the lockdown.
“My first initial thought was that ‘I only have two feet. So, um, I have to walk everywhere. Am I really gonna stock up on toilet roll walking everywhere?’”
“…they’re still gonna do blended learning during this lockdown, which I think is stupid…”
During the lockdown, the non-essentials were a big topic, but Imaan had other things that were not taken care of.
“If you limit the clothes shopping to like one Tesco or Asda, it’d limit going to high streets, which would help the spread.”
(About Mental Health) – “I never put thought into it, cause I’ve just been cracking on…. They do sometimes expect too much from us.”
“I’ve been financially stressed because of Student Finance Wales.”
Cameron and Rowan (both from Wrexham, with Cameron studying ETDL Level 1 and Rowan studying Level 3 Media Studies) did have stronger opinions on this topic.
C – “I wasn’t at all surprised about another lockdown…”
“We started to reopen Wrexham way too soon the first time…”
R – “I’m a bit miffed…. I feel it’s a necessary evil.”
“I don’t think there should’ve been a county wide lockdown…”
During the lockdown, they both felt strongly about the non-essential items bans and did manage to open about how they’ve mentally been doing.
C – “What counts as non-essential? Anyone could need anything at any time!”
(Mental health) – “My inner extrovert is in a corner, hugging it’s knees, rocking back and forth. It’s not been having a good time.”
(As I chat to Cameron every day, he agrees that he has kept sane because of it)
R – “The fact that they put baby items as non-essential is horrific.”
(Mental Health) – “What people don’t understand is how debilitating it is.”
“It’s two weeks. I’ve been busy… everyone’s had stuff to do.”
“At night, it’s been quite tough… I was meant to be having a party with me and all my friends… and yeah, I couldn’t do it cause of restrictions.”
While this has been hard on them all in different ways, they’ve tried to keep going as normal. Their lockdown officially ended on Nov 9th, skipping out on both Halloween and bonfire night. Although many today can go back home to see family, their focus now is to continue with their studies in such awkward times.
The interview is also up on Youtube, so feel free to check that out if you want to hear more of their opinions.