I wasn’t the only student arriving for university this year, apprehensive for the year ahead. It looked like socialising – at least in the traditional sense – was dead. Long gone are the days of packed nightclubs and manic running between freshers drinks; from kayak taster sessions to the bad film society meet-ups, even meet-ups with lecturers and course mates. So then, how do you meet anyone at all and do anything close to socialising in the age of COVID?
The easy response is: Don’t. But that would make for a very short article and a dull semester. So, how do we get through this semester, legally?
Well, if you can’t meet many people outside your flat then you may as well make the most of what people there are inside it. Needless to say, this semester in terms of new friendships is definitely a case of quality over quantity. Getting to know your flat mates – not just passing them in the kitchen, but sitting down and chatting about their life, pastimes and future hopes – is incredibly important. Hanging out with these people, is the closest to the traditional form of socialisation many of us crave.
The rest is new – or at least different – and requires a bit of improvisation. On the plus side, UEA
is now offering projectors to each flat. So we’ve taken a spare bedsheet to use as a screen in the kitchen and watch films most nights. Next time we should probably make popcorn. Yes, bonding in your flat is more intense than previous years, but I reckon I know more about my flatmates compared to previous freshers. Even better, our relationships have survived beyond first impressions and judgments, surely a positive sign.
But yes, it can seem intense and it does make you feel rather jealous of the previous experiences of last year’s students. But if being inside makes you feel rotten, then look out of your window. We are lucky: acres of green space that old friends who wanted to be bang in the heart of a buzzy big city, could only dream about. Yes, it seems wet some days, and the wind can be savage so which may put a dampener on your mood. However – and I probably sound like your parents at this point – it’s amazing how much better campus is with a reasonable raincoat. So wrap up warm and dry and go outside to enjoy the views and muddy terrains – they are both things UEA has in abundance.
On the bright side, I’ve spent far less on pints than originally expected. So maybe when this is all over, I will actually be able to enjoy a COVID free night out without the guilt. University life is never easy, so let’s make this year count.