Freshers vs Covid
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Image courtesy of @alexandragracek on Pinterest
On the 23 March this year, when Boris Johnson told the country that people must stay at home and certain businesses must close, many of us expected a month or so of isolation. However, here we are, seven months on, only recently emerging from full lockdown and still facing restrictions all over the country. Slowly re-emerging into normality has been confusing for many, and the return of students to university has been no exception. With higher education being somewhat neglected by the government during this crisis, thousands of students and staff alike have returned this academic year with an unclear picture of what the Autumn term will look like.
Here at the University of Kent, a mixture of Zoom classes and face-to-face seminars were deemed beneficial for both ensuring our safety and still providing us with a quality standard of teaching. However, as students migrated from across the country this past month, we were left questioning how another aspect of university life would function amongst all this chaos: Freshers Week.
After the graduation plans of 2020 Graduates were foiled by the virus, it is not surprising that freshers have been worrying that their university experience would begin in a similar way. The preliminary seven days before the studying begins is one of the most important periods at university as it is the time for newcomers to get acquainted with their surroundings and bond with their peers. Freshers week is unique to the university experience and, for most, will outline how the rest of your academic years will proceed. It is a time where all social norms seem to be suspended and it is socially acceptable to make friends with absolutely everybody and anybody, and where walking up to a stranger and sparking up a conversation is encouraged instead of deterred. But in this hectic climate, Freshers Week has happened at the worst possible time. As we emerge from strict lockdown and face a potential second wave of Covid-19, a week where young people go into social overdrive is a public health nightmare. As a result, and rightly so, universities across the country have put a halt on social activities, replacing them with online or socially distanced alternatives. Here at Kent at least, events the university have organised, such as escape rooms and even an online Vensday, have proven that this unique week can and will continue in the face of adversity.
Students may not be able to connect with their housemates over a drunken night of clubbing right now, but I would argue that navigating a global pandemic with a group of complete strangers could create even stronger bonds. No matter what happens over the coming months, students have proven themselves to be some of the most resilient and resourceful groups of people amidst this pandemic, and no doubt will still get everything they want out of their university experience. Everyone’s time at university is different and there is no one way to rightly or wrongly ‘do it’. Whether your Fresher’s week was what you had anticipated or not, better things are sure to come.