University is typically marked by weekly food budgets and struggle meals, but Covid-19 has put a strain on student life, bringing about its own set of complications. Two months into the school year, Joyce M’Boutany and Chloe Rose, who study at the University of Northampton and University of Westminster respectively, tell us about their student life experience so far.
What challenges have you faced while living in your accommodation?
Joyce: Having to pay a summer retainer during Covid (50% of monthly rent twice). My flatmates and I have tried to negotiate with our landlord as it wouldn’t make sense for us to pay any rent during uncertain times, but he wasn’t willing to help.
Chloe: For me the main issue I have experienced has been the constant fear of being put into isolation as a flat. Since arriving in September, almost every other flat in our block has ended up in 2 weeks of isolation, so we’re constantly on edge wondering if/when it will happen to us. So far it hasn’t, and we’re hoping it still won’t but obviously having the potential of it looming over us has been a lot to deal with.
How much or how little has your university supported you in regards to Covid-19?
Joyce: I don’t feel as if I have had any support from my university regarding Covid; we’re still paying the same fees despite online lectures which are not always reliable.
Chloe: I feel like the university have supported us a fair bit, especially compared to some of my friends and the way their universities have handled everything. For the most part I’ve found it to be quite well organised considering the circumstances, however, since returning to university it has sort of felt like the support available is less than it was in the lead up to the start of term. For example, on a few occasions when I’ve emailed staff members for help I’ve received less than helpful replies, sometimes with quite condescending tones, which I really don’t think is helpful when university is enough of a struggle with Covid going on.
As a student, do you have any fears about the upcoming lockdown?
Joyce: My main fear is that I may not be able to travel back to family, other than that, I’m not too worried about the lockdown; I’m just hoping the officials know what they are doing and hope they take additional steps to ensure we don’t get into another lockdown as it is very draining.
Chloe: I’m mostly worried that it’s going to last longer than they’re initially saying that it will and that it will start to affect Christmas. Personally, because my home is all the way up north, I’m worried I won’t get to go back, or that I’ll go back and get stuck there and not be able to return to uni. Other than that I’m not hugely worried as since the Tier 2 restrictions started, I’ve been spending a lot more time in my flat anyway, so I don’t think this lockdown will be a lot different to that.
What are you doing to keep motivated academically?
Joyce: My flatmates and I are very close so we make sure we’re all there for each other by hanging out, having regular flat sleepovers, game nights and the sorts. Gym is great for stress release but since gyms will be closed, I’ll make use of home workouts and checking in with friends and family.
Chloe: A few of us have a TV night once a week where we watch shows like Great British Bake Off, etc, which always gives us something to look forward to even if the rest of the week isn’t particularly exciting. We quite often sit together and study so that we’re not going crazy alone in our rooms, and we’ve also been coming up with a list of ideas for things to do in the flat since we moved in, so now that we’re going to be in lockdown together we’re finally going to get a chance to do them. We’ve found that even though Covid is causing a lot of problems and obviously the restrictions/lockdown are less than ideal, spending a lot of time indoors has given us more time to bond as friends, which helps us make the best of a bad situation.
The government has advised that if you live at university, “you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term for Christmas”. Unsure if you’ll make it home for the Christmas break?
Words: Omega Kamombo | Sub editor: Amber Meghani