Jessica Mason, 18, from Doncaster and now living in Peel Park Quarter, Salford.

We’ve all heard of the deadly ‘Fresher’s flu’. But now introducing the headline act for this year’s Fresher’s Festival – it’s Coronavirus!
It is completely normal to feel nervous regarding your first year of university; living away from home for the first time and beginning your dream career path however, now with the added pressure of staying safe during a global pandemic, new worries can start to emerge.
I personally struggle with anxiety, particularly surrounding change, and I have no problem in admitting this as it should no longer be a taboo topic in the 21st Century. Undoubtedly, like many other first year students, I have been doubting my cleaning skills, ability to cook for myself, and likelihood of making friends. Especially all in a city that has recently exceeded 100 coronavirus cases for the first time and has the fourth highest rate of the virus in Greater Manchester. However, after moving to campus almost a week ago, I have been dealing with any challenges one by one.
Firstly, focusing on COVID-19, the clear one-way systems and several regular hand sanitising stations enable myself to feel safe around campus. I have found that keeping up to date with the University of Salford Students’ Union website is extremely useful, with the website also providing tips on how to stay mentally and physically healthy and information on how to become part of the university’s many societies – which is an amazing chance to make friends with those who have similar interests. Although I was significantly concerned with how COVID-19 would affect my first-year university experience, both in terms of socialising and further education, the online induction sessions have allowed me to disclose the information needed for my course so far and I have been able to make contact with those in my personal form group and develop friendships.
Nightlife and interaction were a large attraction to university life. Therefore, naturally I was nervous of how the dreaded pandemic would impact this too, with the government rule of no more than six people in your social bubble. However, I have found that there are still a variety of ways to have fun. For example, going to the Atmosphere student union bar (particularly on a Monday for the quiz night) or heading further out to Media City on the free number 50 bus or the Junkyard in Deansgate with it being the next train station to Salford Cresent.
However, understandably, nightlife is not for everyone. Some nights I prioritise myself and batch cook meals to prevent food and money waste and implement some routine into my days – even if it is as little as eating meals at suitable times. That being said, it is equally as important for me to know the city that I am going to be spending the next three years of my life in and I have been enjoying finding the nearest supermarkets and music venues which currently put on live outdoor gigs such as The Rose and Monkey Hotel which permits me to have fun in a safe way.

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