New year, new norm

The only thing we have to fear is not being scared. No, this is not a typing error and I was not trying to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt. But it sums up how I am feeling about returning to University in September. I think I should be more worried, but I am actually extremely excited. Does that sound rather peculiar?

I am nervous about getting coronavirus, however this has not impacted my mental health as much as expected given the explicit dangers associated with the virus. Recently, I thought it would be difficult to socially distance with so many people around. Are such fears profounding affecting my emotional state? I think not. But why not?

The first reason is I am confident I have solved my wheelchair problem. As I wrote in Concrete earlier in the year, I needed a new wheelchair with more ground clearance to suit the UEA’s campus. I applied for the Motability scheme and they have since offered me a wheelchair for an indefinite period, and I plan on surrendering part of my disability benefits to pay for it.

I am currently taking a year out of my studies, having first started my Undergraduate degree in September 2019. I have already completed a semester, and it has given me a clearer idea of what to expect from my university experience. The start of term will feel less of a leap into the unknown as it would for newer students.

Another reason I am looking forward to returning in September is because I am a first year student officially but a second year mentally, which reduces the pressure of feeling obliged to take part in freshers week.

I have some fears about the year ahead, questions over how active student societies can run given the pandemic and possibly as a result, the loneliness this potentially creates. But I have also considered why this has not impacted my mental health and found a possible answer: I have learnt to accept more uncertainty, and given the unpredictability of our times, such acceptance is clearly a good thing. What are your hopes and fears for this academic year?

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Laurence Scott

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on L.Hargreaves@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.