Colleen Lamb, 18, from Lancaster and now living at Peel Park Quarter in Salford.
In a time of great universal uncertainty, the prospect of starting university was integral to giving my life a sense of structure and direction. University was always going to be a new experience regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic but, of course, now it will differ greatly to the experience had by the students who came before me.
The leaders and lecturers at my university, the University of Salford, have made the transition into university life a comfortable and easy one, with regular online induction activities centered around our courses and student life. With personal tutors allowing time to ask and answer any questions regarding the worries we have had during this time and in general as new students, it feels greatly as though my university is working hard to create an understanding and accommodating environment, focused on giving us the same opportunity to flourish as any student has had previous to this pandemic. As a student who is living on campus and studying Journalism, my experience of university is entirely new; with my only real familiarities being the small sentimental tokens I have brought with me from home.
Prior to beginning university, I had many fears; will I be disadvantaged after my studies in such a competitive field? What has become of the social aspect of university due to social distancing? What will be the nature of my lectures and tutorials? Nevertheless, I have settled into life as a new student quicker than originally expected. When moving in on the 14th of September, I found there to be a surprising sense of calm and quiet; social distancing with allotted time slots for moving into accommodation most likely made this so. As the days begin to move quickly towards the beginning of my course, places around campus, such as the Students’ Union, have begun to become much more lively, even with the implementing of social distancing and group meeting regulations, and I am beginning to get a true sense of what the university experience has to offer me.
It has been invaluable to speak to many fellow Journalism students on the campus who share the same worries that I do: will we have lectures at Media City? Will we be able to have the same work experience opportunities we envisioned we would have? How will our day-to-day life as students be affected by the pandemic? Although the answers to these questions remain uncertain, I do, however, feel less fearful. After having those discussions with the tutors and lecturers who, although express a realistic sense of uncertainty for what the future holds, paint a bright and optimistic picture of what my time at university will be like. I too feel optimistic and excited about these coming months. Overall, starting university has been what I had expected it to be even before the COVID-19 pandemic began: scary and intimidating but, chiefly, exciting. The end of my high-school career was saddening but university has offered me a bright and wonderful flip side to what was a disheartening period and I still believe that these next three years will be my best so far.