Uni-life in lockdown: I got by with a little help from my friends

July 14, 2021

L-R: Niamh, Emma (me) and Molly

Emma de Duve recounts living under restrictions for half her degree course

I always knew my final year of uni was going to be a difficult one. What I could never have imagined was that I’d be completing it during a global pandemic.

Uni is a once in a lifetime experience where you can live away from home with people from all across the country. Although the pandemic hasn’t affected that, it has meant we haven’t been able to make the most of the city we live in. I feel there is so much I haven’t had the chance to explore in Nottingham.

When I started my third year I was excited to get back to uni to see my friends, having been at home in Barnet and in lockdown for over six months.

I live in a house with three others, and we were all looking forward to spending time together, enjoying bars and restaurants wherever we could. The nightlife wasn’t going to be quite the same with social distancing in place and a sense of uncertainty hanging in the air.

Once term started, it began to dawn on me just how much work this year would entail, especially with some assessments and exams carried over from our second year. It had been impossible to complete the curriculum amidst the chaos that struck from the first lockdown.

I couldn’t go out partying every night, leaving space to get to know my flatmates much better

Although lockdown created some anxiety for me, I did use the time to catch up on domestic stuff. I started to slow down and relax so going back into my studies was a sharp shock.

I‘ve always been someone who likes to get their work completed as soon as possible. I get too worried to just sit there and watch it pile up. This year I was more eager than ever to stay on top of things.

Living through the pandemic at uni did have some positives. Lockdown put a stop to partying every night but it did create time to get to know my flatmates much better. We relied on each other to get through the difficult emotions that came up. I got better sleep, making it easier to focus and engage with my work.

I knew my final year would be a tough one, with more riding on assessments, but I envisaged hard studying and partying in equal measure.

Online lectures had begun in my second year so by the time I came back in September I was starting to get used to them. There isn’t always the same energy online as you get from in-person tuition and the buzz of other students, but I did like that it felt more relaxed and I could work at my own pace.

There have, of course, been some truly stressful times, but I’ve got through, with a little help from my friends

Tutors have worked very hard to keep learning as engaging as possible and I think online communication improved massively over the year.

All considered, in terms of work at least, this year has been reasonably smooth sailing. It feels weird to have completed my three years at uni, half of which was during a global pandemic!

There have, of course, been some truly stressful times, but I’ve got through, with a little help from my friends. I’m feeling quite positive about my life right now and I hope we’re slowly coming out of this pandemic.

My friends and I had some exciting events planned for the final week of uni but that all came to an end when I caught Covid-19… again!

I’ve just come out of my second isolation, which on the plus side did leave me time to relax and make plans. I’m excited to be starting my masters in September, which will be a whole new chapter.

Exposure is looking for young people’s testimonies of how they are getting through the crisis. Please get in touch to share your experiences and advice.

Funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, distributed by CommUNITY Barnet Giving has helped us with this work. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.

Emma studied History, Religious Studies and Drama at Woodhouse College. She is a big football fan and has recently completed a journalism degree at Nottingham Trent University. Emma has recently become an active advocate of decluttering.

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