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Home   /   The Covid Generation: How British Students are Adjusting to the “New Normal”
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By Jenny Bathurst, Roxanne Clark, Becca Kenworthy, Megan Leader & Tom Read.

Edited by Megan Wenham, Harriet Dunlop & Harrison Kirby.

As a generation start university in a pandemic, many of their experiences differ.

The coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the nation’s lives for months with no end.

With Boris Johnson’s divisive leadership in regards to university students returning, we interviewed those who have been greatly affected by the changes to student life as we know it, across Warwick, Huddersfield, Durham and Swansea, and explore their personal experiences to a unconventional Fresher’s Week.

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“The uni has adapted the course really well”

Junting Jiang is a 19 year old second-year student at Warwick University. He was unfortunate enough to have his first year of university interrupted by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and has had to deal with the necessary adaptations the university has made.

Due to the nature of his course, (BA) Chemistry, he has had to do without physical access to important equipment in the university’s laboratories. Despite these major drawbacks, Warwick University has implemented ‘dry labs’, a form of teaching through engaging live video demonstrations allowing the students to watch experiments taking place in the correct setting.

“During term 3 of the last academic year, Warwick University developed an ‘Online Learning Certificate’ course, with the intention to prepare students with the relevant skills needed to learn in a virtual environment.

“Although it is frustrating that we are not able to do actual lab work, it’s still good to know that the uni has adapted the course really well!”

As a second-year student, Junting has experienced two entirely different university environments. By creating these ‘dry lab’ live lessons, alongside the ‘Online Learning Certificate’, the effect of stricter access to enclosed teaching environments has been minimized.

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“Different getting into a uni”

We then interviewed Abigail Leia Smith, 18, who is a Biomedical Science student at the University of Huddersfield.

“The first two days I was a bit upset and a bit lonely. I was fine once people came, it’s different being independent. Not that stressful, but different getting into a routine.

Abigail struggles to adjust to the new normal.

“It’s different not having family around. I phoned my mum like 3 times in a day. Getting into the habit of doing stuff myself and learning more independence, general life things really.

“The rules are stricter in Wrexham, but that’s because our government’s better (laughs). We’re allowed to mix households, but we have to wear masks if we go into their dorms.

“It’s a bit of a difference as we’re lower risk in Huddersfield.”

“Plenty of time”

Charlie Illingworth studying at Durham University told us: “We discovered when we arrived that we would be confined to our accommodation for three days.

“What there was to enjoy about this new chapter was what I would make of it, but the reality is that there remains plenty of time to enjoy these next three years as a student, and mature into an adult.”

“Almost robbed of my Fresher’s experience”

Callum Wollaston, of Swansea University, added: “Clubs were closed and you can’t socialise with people outside of your university.

Some venues remain closed to students.

“There were a few socially distanced pop-up bars, but you could only socialise with the people you live with in your flat.

“Understandably, this has proven quite frustrating for me. I feel I was almost robbed of my Fresher’s experience.”

Evidently, university life has drastically changed from the typical expectations of what being a student is like. Each student has been affected personally with these changes and tackling their way through living in the “new normal”.

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May 2024