Faye Seager, 19, living at home in Gatley, Stockport

Thousands of students like me are starting their university journey not the way initially planned. Embarking on this new adventure during the midst of a pandemic is scary and overwhelming. I am not allowed on campus as often as I would have expected, socialising in ‘bubbles’ and abiding by strict social distancing measures is a frightening reality I am facing. After taking a much-needed gap year, I decided to apply to university. I was keen to start that next stage as during school, I had been sold the typical narrative of what university will look like. ‘You will meet your friends for life’ or ‘the best years of your life are at university’, these ideas now seem bleaker and more untrue to me.
However, starting a new chapter in my life regardless of the current situation is exciting for me! I hope to make the most of every opportunity given to me during my first year at university and the Covid-19 pandemic has made realise the value of pursuing whatever makes me happy and has made me eager to succeed. Additionally, I am super thrilled to be able to make new like-minded friends, obviously in a safe way, as well as having the opportunity to study what I am passionate about, even though the learning methods may be unconventional and different to every other year.
Already living in the city in which I am studying is great in some ways. I won’t face the struggle of getting to know a brand-new city, however, I am living at home. Usually this would not be a major setback, but due to the situation it is a heavy limitation I must overcome in order to immerse in the ‘uni experience’, or as close to that experience as is possible. Moreover, I worry greatly about the concept of learning through a screen whilst living at home. It will be challenging to stay focused and motivated and I will also need to put in extra effort to make and maintain friendships which could be a potential set back, although in situations like these I find it crucial to keep a positive mindset and look for moments which bring excitement and less that bring uneasiness.
My university is following all the necessary safety precautions and my course will be taught, initially, via a combination of online and face-to-face teaching. As a first-year student who is commuting, this worries me because the social aspect will be greatly impacted, meaning I must learn to navigate around that obstacle. I am trying to stay optimistic though, having a positive mindset during these times is so important.
To get to know other students, I plan on joining various societies in order to make my first year seem less daunting. The push to be extra proactive during first year will hopefully pay off and the romanticised image I have of university will become clearer during my time here.
Being a first-year student this year, is so different and much scarier than previous years. The feelings of fear and anticipation I have now, will hopefully subside when I settle into a routine and adjust to the new normal.

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