Coming up to a Covid Christmas: What this Term has been like for students

It would be naïve to assert that teenagers and young adults have been one of the groups most affected by Covid, when, evidently, we have been lucky in how we are much less likely than other ages to be harmed by the virus. However, it is also unfair to assume that this pandemic has not impacted all of our lives, whether we are medically at great risk or not.

The phrase ‘we’re in the same storm but not the same boat’ has been seen across social media throughout this virus, and many are no doubt sick of hearing it. However, it has been so popular because it is so applicable to the situation we all find ourselves in now. Although a sweeping statement, generally as students we are lucky in how we are unlikely to be badly impacted if indeed we do catch Covid-19, however this does not mean this term has been free of worries for us.

It is important to recognise that Michaelmas has been a great strain for many, and the fact that we have now all reached the final week, whether already at home or still at university, is an enormous achievement. This term has been one full of uncertainty, and particularly when at university and away from home, this can feel overwhelming and unmanageable. By the 15th October, over 950 Durham students had tested positive for the virus, and consequently a significant amount had been isolating. Even if experiencing no symptoms, isolating in itself is a huge challenge, especially if in college, on which a spotlight has been shone regarding their inadequate support for those in quarantine. If living out, staying in the house for two weeks often means no access to an outside space, and for many this has taken a significant toll on mental health, which has often not been acknowledged.

Even if not isolating, lectures being online has posed a challenge in itself, with lack of motivation being common, and a social aspect severely missed. Even not walking to lectures means a lot less fresh air, and the fact that you have to make a conscious effort to go outside now, if everything is online, has led to a feeling of being cooped up for many. Not to mention the lack of clubbing and social life which normally can be such a welcome relief from work, and help provide perspective when everything gets too much.

Consequently, the achievement of just reaching the end of term, should not be downplayed. Even the end of term has been a source of stress, with travel windows and Covid tests meaning the conclusion of Michaelmas term has not been the fun event it usually is. Therefore, although we are lucky in many ways, this term has by no means been easy for university students, and it is important to acknowledge this. With the vaccine in the New Year bringing hope, there is a lot to look forward to; we will definitely all remember this term, and we should all be proud of getting through it.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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