"My experience in lockdown was a difficult one. I lived a very social life at university where I was always surrounded by people. My anxiety and my bad thoughts really attack me at the times where I am alone. Lockdown forced me to be alone and to be completely with my thoughts. It made me face my demons. It was horrible for the first few weeks. However, I battled my demons and I really understood why I feel the way I feel. All that negativity and all that self-doubt became fuel for my growth and development. I became (I’d like to think) a brand new person. The weeks after lockdown were harder than lockdown itself as I wasn’t prepared to return to normal and return to my life of work and uni. It’s still a journey I am on and hopefully, I emerge a stronger person."



"I can’t lie. At the beginning of this mess when it was a black swan event, life was exciting. Of course, terrifying, but nothing had ever happened like this before. There was a twisted novelty to it.

Now it’s: rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. We’ve been spoon-fed solutions that never worked, I’ve neglected my friends out of fear, time operates at a pace that I can’t adapt to, and I’m still debating whether or not to get a Nintendo Switch."



"This Covid Crisis has left many, including myself, with a very uneasy, paranoid and anxious state of mind. As the only thing on news channels was them showing numbers of cases and deaths rising, as opposed to those recovered or updates on the vaccine, I was very quick to be left with worries rather than a reassurance that those in charge have it handled, thus, leading to more panic and unease. Especially when working towards a degree as it had also meant an added level of stress as a result of the closure of uni and libraries. Being tossed into the unknown and unplanned had often left me discombobulated and a feeling of no control over how I should live my life."



"I have been staring at this blank page struggling to find the words to reflect my lockdown experience.

Lockdown did start out positive for me. I was focusing on my health by eating well, completing weekly home workouts and achieving high grades in my uni work. However, my family and I received news in March that our four-year-old Labrador had an aggressive form of cancer which came to a shock to us all. He is 4. He was healthy. He was two years out of puppy training. I kept thinking that it wasn’t real.  We were all worried. We took him to the specialist vet who carried out a major operation to remove the tumour. It was all positive from there as he was cancer free. He had a six-week recovery period which he did so well in; until we found another lump under his chin where the vet confirmed that his cancer had returned.

Two weeks later he passed away. He was my best friend and I forgot how much he helped me with my mental health.

Although, I didn’t recognise it at the time, I was going through a lot of grief. I went through a breakup and also lost two of my closest friends which I hadn’t experienced before. Along with experiencing high anxiety every day, worrying about the dog’s recovery and the cancer returning etc., it was a mentally draining time. I was still working throughout the lockdown, as I work at my local hospital, so for me this was a distraction from what was going on in my life. I ignored what was happening around me and didn’t process it properly because I didn’t want to accept what had happened. Even now I still struggle to realise that what happened did and I do find myself getting upset for a brief moment.

I think during lockdown was the lowest point in my life, as I know it was for other people also. I felt as if I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t go and see the rest of my family who I am close with to spend a day with them, instead it was waving at them from across the road when I went to drop their shopping round. They couldn’t hug me when I got upset which was hard. It was a really difficult time for everyone, and I know I wasn’t alone.

Looking back now I was quite low a lot of the time. There were times where I couldn’t get out of bed, I wouldn’t go out, stopped exercising and began to eat lots.  I would lie in till late morning and for anyone that knows me, I rarely lie in. I will always be up early ready to start the day. I just felt as if I had no purpose anymore. At the time you don’t realise how it’s affecting you; it wasn’t until a family member noticed and spoke to me about it.

But, in a way I am thankful lockdown happened because I would never have had the time to spend with my dog before he passed away. I would have been away at uni, my brother at school and my parents would have been working. So, in a way it’s comforting to know that his last few months were spent with love, treats and lots of cuddles.

In this period, I feel I have grown as a person. I’ve got stronger without realising it. I got through a difficult time and still achieved high grades in my second year of uni. I learnt to stop caring what other people think. I’ve started to take care of myself rather than trying to please people. I’ve met new people and surrounded myself with more positivity. Mentally I’m in a better place than I was five months ago. "



"I have been staring at this blank page struggling to find the words to reflect my lockdown experience.

Lockdown did start out positive for me. I was focusing on my health by eating well, completing weekly home workouts and achieving high grades in my uni work. However, my family and I received news in March that our four-year-old Labrador had an aggressive form of cancer which came to a shock to us all. He is 4. He was healthy. He was two years out of puppy training. I kept thinking that it wasn’t real.  We were all worried. We took him to the specialist vet who carried out a major operation to remove the tumour. It was all positive from there as he was cancer free. He had a six-week recovery period which he did so well in; until we found another lump under his chin where the vet confirmed that his cancer had returned.

Two weeks later he passed away. He was my best friend and I forgot how much he helped me with my mental health.

Although, I didn’t recognise it at the time, I was going through a lot of grief. I went through a breakup and also lost two of my closest friends which I hadn’t experienced before. Along with experiencing high anxiety every day, worrying about the dog’s recovery and the cancer returning etc., it was a mentally draining time. I was still working throughout the lockdown, as I work at my local hospital, so for me this was a distraction from what was going on in my life. I ignored what was happening around me and didn’t process it properly because I didn’t want to accept what had happened. Even now I still struggle to realise that what happened did and I do find myself getting upset for a brief moment.

I think during lockdown was the lowest point in my life, as I know it was for other people also. I felt as if I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t go and see the rest of my family who I am close with to spend a day with them, instead it was waving at them from across the road when I went to drop their shopping round. They couldn’t hug me when I got upset which was hard. It was a really difficult time for everyone, and I know I wasn’t alone.

Looking back now I was quite low a lot of the time. There were times where I couldn’t get out of bed, I wouldn’t go out, stopped exercising and began to eat lots.  I would lie in till late morning and for anyone that knows me, I rarely lie in. I will always be up early ready to start the day. I just felt as if I had no purpose anymore. At the time you don’t realise how it’s affecting you; it wasn’t until a family member noticed and spoke to me about it.

But, in a way I am thankful lockdown happened because I would never have had the time to spend with my dog before he passed away. I would have been away at uni, my brother at school and my parents would have been working. So, in a way it’s comforting to know that his last few months were spent with love, treats and lots of cuddles.

In this period, I feel I have grown as a person. I’ve got stronger without realising it. I got through a difficult time and still achieved high grades in my second year of uni. I learnt to stop caring what other people think. I’ve started to take care of myself rather than trying to please people. I’ve met new people and surrounded myself with more positivity. Mentally I’m in a better place than I was five months ago. "



"I am terrified. I’m terrified what exactly this second lockdown means for me. I don’t know how to cope. I don’t know whether I will.

I remember going for a walk one night, this was quite a time after full-scale lockdown had lifted, and just thinking to myself this isn’t normal. You’re not meant to feel sad all the time. You’re not meant to wake up upset, spend the day upset and finish it crying yourself to sleep. That’s not normal. But that was lockdown for me.

University is a time for finding yourself, take that away in the middle and the only thing you find yourself is lost. My mental health plummeted as soon as the two things I could rely on, my friends and uni work, all disappeared, and I was just left totally and utterly alone. Zooms and messages just don’t work, perhaps they provided momentary relief, but it was almost a synthetic high and the comedown outweighed the temporary euphoria. Not everyone even knew quite how bad I was and that’s why I’ve asked for this to be kept anonymous.

The only thing that kept me with some sort of sanity was the thought that once I was back at Uni it would get better. It did not.

Still I find myself up to the early hours listening to Punisher, dreaming of Kyoto, stuck with emotional motion sickness. I don’t even know if I still like the music, but it’s nice not to feel alone. It’s nice to have a comfort blanket. It’s nice to have an escape.

Sometimes it's not enough though. I’ve broken things. When it gets too much sometimes you just need a second to breathe, a second when you are not thinking about anything at all. It is not worth it the next morning though. Waking up to shattered pieces of a treasured item is heart-breaking. A broken heart doesn’t need to be broken more, eventually, it just turns to dust. You can’t piece dust back together.

I’ve never felt as low as I do right now.

Boris is a fat cock."



"Where to begin?

From my personal experience, lockdown occurred not long after my mum and I attended a concert at the 02- The Script on the 29th of February for my 20th birthday. This was a scary memory once lockdown came into play as the 02 can fill up to 20,000 people yet my mum and I didn’t have any symptoms; seeing the news headlines of the deaths rising made us feel extremely lucky!

Although this is hard to admit now considering the sheer amount of deaths and severe cases of COVID-19 that exceeded, the moment lockdown really began for me was when my family and I were debating whether to go out for St Patricks Day on the 14th/15th of March, and as my nan’s family are Irish this has always been a big thing for us. However, we decided against it and now I am particularly grateful because at this time no one was aware of the utter extremity that COVID-19 was going to bring to the world, and therefore thousands still went out at this time, especially in central London where we were planning to venture.

Like many other individuals, lockdown for me was a roller-coaster – although this is the ultimate cliché, no other words could describe it better. My mum, brother and I began baking to fill this time.  From the classic banana bread to triple chocolate brownies, flapjacks, kinder Bueno cakes – we made them all and more, and despite the long walks (we were doing six-mile walks) most days the calories were adding up and the lockdown was getting longer than we anticipated. This was especially true with the sheer amount of alcoholic drinks and snacks, we were consuming to feed our Netflix addiction which ran until 5 am every morning.

This caused us to transition into our next lockdown phase – the healthy one! This involved home workouts, runs, longer walks and intermittent fasting from 8 pm, only having a tea and smoothie for breakfast and lunch. This made us feel great! We were losing pounds while the sun encouraged us to sunbathe for most of the day while draining our energy so that we would resort to salads for dinner.

The back and forth between the comfort eating and the healthy lifestyle became a habit for my family and I.

Social media was a laugh through this time, the sheer amount of memes did keep me going through the start of lockdown, however the huge quantity of pass-it-on challenges that I was being sent on a daily basis and the huge amount of lockdown photos that people were posting made me cling to my phone. I began to become narrow-minded believing that being on social media was the only thing I could do in these times. Along with past relations that had begun contacting, which should have been left behind – I resorted in turning my phone off for two months which could not have helped my mental health more.

This gave me space to fill my time with things that were more beneficial to me and gave my mind some time to relax. My nan, mum and I actually began making a patchwork quilt, while I also started reading, doing extra work and research, playing games with my family and more. We also went through the motions, as did every other household as it seems, of wanting a hot tub – spending hours a day on the internet trying to order but as soon as we were notified that they were in stock they would be out of stock in a few seconds.

One thing that I found extremely difficult through lockdown was not being able to see my nan who lives directly opposite me, although we would go into her garden and wave through the window it was not the same at all. What added to this was the fact that my nan's sister lost her husband through this period and my nan and her other siblings could not be there to comfort her as they usually would. What was especially hard to see for her family was that only six were allowed to the funeral and there was a lot more immediate family than that making it very hard to choose.

I personally also found it very tough getting back into ‘normal life’ – although it wasn’t normal at all, the social aspect of beginning to intermingle again became unusual to me after only interacting with my mum and brother for so long. This was a very scary and weird feeling for me as a typically sociable person.

Eat out to help out.

10pm Curfew.

Lockdown 2.0."



"I went home for what I thought would be a weekend away for Mother’s Day and turned into a four-month stay. 

My experience of lockdown at the beginning felt like a normal home visit for me, a few weeks in and I just felt like I was on holiday with the family and I took it as a nice break from the stressful university life I was living. However, this quickly changed as the isolation and step backwards from living independently to under my parents' roof began to sink in.

I would express that my mental health never really started to struggle until the second year of university when I had my first anxiety attack. This was a week before I returned to my new university house. Since then they had appeared infrequently throughout that year. I would say with the additional stress of the environment and excessive time that lockdown allowed me to stay in my head, it made my difficulties controlling them prove harder. My family were only ever slightly aware of my struggles and I don’t think they quite knew how much they had been affecting me recently. Spending this amount of time with them did allow us to open up and speak about these deeper issues, however I wouldn’t say they truly understand or really tried too. I do believe that is my fault because I struggle to communicate my feelings, probably because I don't quite understand myself why I feel this way sometimes. When I had the ability to spend time with friends in their back garden and social distance, I was able to create another escape from the realities of the lack of my own space and freedom. I can’t express how helpful this was to my low mentality at this point, and I was also able to have a purpose in helping my other friends escape, who were struggling with the same issues and gave me comfort in the sense that I wasn't alone. 

I would love to say that once I was able to move back to university my anxiety was better but I believe this is something that just heightened because of the different and tough environment Covid has left us in. Despite this, I think being surrounded by my friends at university and housemates that also currently understand this, helps more because we are able to have more open discussions and be more practical in solutions to minimise the feeling. 

In spite of everything that happened, a good experience I can take from lockdown is how much closer I became with my sister. We are very different personality-wise even though we are quite similar in age. We have always been less open with each other and kind of distant when it comes to sharing things. However, we started running together a few times a week. I used to be a big fan of running and definitely missed the way it made me feel. It allowed me to escape my thoughts and if I couldn’t at first, the more exhausted I got the more it would push me to forget about my worries. Concentrating and focusing on what was solely in front of me. To be able to share this with her and have that someone to convince me to go run even on the days I wasn’t the most enthusiastic, really forced me to notice the support I had around me and the strength I carried in myself. I was very thankful to lockdown for allowing me to gain this time to find my love for running again and stop myself from the classic excuse of having too much work or being too tired.  I hope to continue even during the second lockdown that we are currently in."



"I’m sorry but I need to rant about this. It’s so frustrating that during these times that some countries require a negative PCR test with a certificate in order to fly. This gets even more annoying when trying to look in Colchester for some centres to do it, and no, Boots does not do it in Colchester, and yes, Lloyds pharmacy does it, but I ain’t spending £200.

Initially the real costs of the PCR tests are around £10. I just can’t believe how fucked up this country is with their PCR tests, charging them like if it was winning a lottery.

At least other countries have made it to £50, but instead here we are. All I want to do is fly back home, and so far I have already paid one PCR test online, and it went bad because the results came out too late, and now I saw that the university was going to do one, so I was happy, but excuse me 180 POUNDS? Like wtf! In Wales the universities over there were giving it to students for FREE, with certificates in order to fly, and again I repeat, FREEEEEE. I’M JUST SO UPSET WITH THIS BULLSHIT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. "

6th Decemeber 2020



"Hey guys sorry for this rant but I just wanted to mention how much of a SHIT HOLE this university is, so first of all I studied biomed with foundation year and towards the end of the course things changed and we had to do most of our tests online. At the time it was a total lockdown and I didn’t have well enough facilities to take out my test (my Chromebook was really old and froze if I typed a lot). So I hand wrote my exams and took picture of them and uploaded them on moodle. I did that for four of my modules and double checked with my lecturers and got the green card to do so.

Results day came and I got a zero, bearing in mind I wrote at least 10 pages of solid work, waited eight days for my lecturer to contact me and she said that apparently there was no option for me to upload any pictures on moodle and therefore my marks went to waste. She also said she could see that I tried to upload something but didn’t know what, as an exam board they should have contacted me and asked where things went wrong or if I tried to upload anything with the circumstances in place as well but NO, anyways my ridiculous lecturer said that there was no point appealing it and that I should just resit, which I couldn’t do as I’ve taken a month off work just to study, I also didn’t listen to her and went ahead and appealed which unfortunately got rejected giving them the circumstances and evidence (I had LIVE pictures of when I took the test and clearly prove I did the test on time). Yet my appeal still got rejected, I have been trying to contact the exams office, student services and even the secretary of the principal but no one could assist me.

I have paid £9,250 and stayed at accommodation for all of that to go to waste, I now attend UWL and it has just showed me the difference of help I was getting here and at Essex.

I do not recommend you attend this uni and it is not just me that has been complaining about this stupid university.

ABSOLUTE SHAMBLES SHITTY UNIVERSITY

Add on: I AM STILL RECEIVING EMAILS FROM MY LECTURERS ABOUT THIS YEARS MODULES AND LESSON SO I’M TECHNICALLY STILL REGISTERED AS A STUDENT HOW RIDICULOUS!!"



Hello there. I’m disappointed with the hostility and hate that the pandemic has brought out in people. At a time when we should be united and comforting one another, the opposite has happened. Hate is never necessary, so, why am I reading and hearing negative and hateful comments around the group that I, and 2.38 million others, belong to – students. The Government, who continually fail to mention us in 'announcements, is certainly not the only group I’ve seen discriminating against students. The Media is to blame for influencing public opinion by often showing students in a negative light, such as partying and, consequently, many feel it’s okay to tarnish students with one brush, blaming them for rises in cases, blaming them for returning back to University, the list of blame goes on and on. This shocks me because, by thinking every student behaves the same, you are describing your future Nurses, Doctors, Psychologists, Entrepreneurs, Engineers, to name a few. I’m aware that, although everyone is living different experiences, this year is hard for everyone across all age groups and backgrounds and I empathise with everyone. However, I feel students are the main group consistently targeted and hated on, based on inaccurate representations. So, what do we do? We try and stand up for the injustice being made against us. The response we get? That we think we’re “special”, or that we are “moaning”. I’ve been told multiple times “Be grateful for what you have!” and “All that young people prioritise is socialising, when they should be lucky that they are living” or “In the war, young people were recruited to fight, thank god you aren’t in their position.” It’s almost as though, because we aren’t in the worse situation or the situation they’re comparing us to, anything we say - our problems and feelings – doesn’t matter. Our concerns are ‘not genuine’ or ‘valid’ and that we should be silenced and not ‘moan’. People are failing to consider how this could make someone feel, for example, the boy who experiences suicidal thoughts because of being trapped in his University room and, after reading nasty comments on Social Media from people like this. These types of nasty and unhelpful remarks only contribute to more mental health issues and suicides. Of course, we recognise that lots of people have had an extremely hard year, and we are not reducing the value of anyone’s feelings. However, we have a right and deserve to defend this misconception about us. Before making judgements of students, people should start by trying to understand and empathise what the reality actually is for them: My story began on a Thursday morning in March 2020 at Sixth Form, when my Form Tutor announced we would not be returning the week after. We quickly arranged a spontaneous ‘end of Sixth Form’ event for the following day, giving thanks to our teachers for all they had done for us. We still thought, at this stage, we would be able to get together at a later date for our much looked-forward to and deserved Prom that every other year had enjoyed. This could not be rearranged. During this bittersweet last day, my A Level Drama peers and I had to film our half-finished performance, in case it was needed as evidence to show our potential. It was then that it hit me – that unfinished work was potentially going to be used towards predicting my grades. Little did we know, that really was it - the end of our 7-year school journey, over in a flash. This was followed by being a in state of uncertainty for months about whether our exams were actually going ahead. We constantly thought, ‘what if the 2 years of hard work spent studying for A Levels was all for nothing?’. However, I do not blame anyone; who knows, during an unprecedented time where students are physically unable to sit exams, what the right decision is? Delay the academic year? Produce a method to generate grades? Who would know how to deal with the futures of so many students, in the fairest way? We eventually found out that, our exams were, indeed, cancelled. Devastated, we did not get the chance to sit in the hall and achieve our A Levels. Moving miles away from home and from family to University is an anxiety-provoking time for students around the country, every year. Moving in the midst of a national pandemic, however, is a deeply anxious feeling that I can only begin to try and explain. “University is the best years of your life” they say. You socialise, meet life-long friends, make once in a life-time memories and, of course, study a degree you’re fascinated by, surrounded by people who share the same passion as you. And a whole lot more. Yet the reality for the Class of Covid has been far from this. During the first few months of Uni, I think meeting new people and making friends is imperative, not only for obvious social reasons but, because the way this is a distraction and helps people get through the already daunting time. The reality of 2020 is it’s against the law to mix with flats and meet with other people. This only results in seclusion and low mood, and no one to turn to, from living with family to being couped up in an isolated room. On top of this, a huge factor of University is joining societies - an opportunity to develop skills and nurture a passion for a sport or hobby you may never have found. I was excited to join the Dance Society but this was taken away from me, and replaced with incomparable zoom calls, practicalities limiting. I’m not experiencing anywhere near half of the facilities I am paying for. When I arrived at Halls of Residence, I did not expect my room to become my very own makeshift ‘lecture hall’; a place where I would be studying all my lectures, every day. A small box room, not differing much to that of a prison cell. I stare at my laptop screen watching pre-recorded videos of PowerPoints slides, instead of an interactive real-life lecturer, for hours upon hours until my eyes hurt. It’s vital to remember that I, like many others, signed up for and, was promised a mixture of face-to-face lectures and small group sessions, which clearly changed very quickly as soon as we arrived. To this day (January 2021) I haven’t stepped one foot into my University and it’s unlikely I will ever get the opportunity to in my First Year. Yet I’m expected to pay the same amount as any normal year - £9250 - for what I’m experiencing, when it’s clearly far from the experience of any normal year. On top of all of this, we are expected to produce the same quality of work from these insufficient teaching methods. We have to complete exams with no extra consideration which are assessed and count towards our final degree – with no extra consideration for the anxious and depressing circumstances we are currently in. Students have been treated unfairly by the Government, the Universities themselves and, just as important, the general public. “It’s the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into hate and hostility.”



"As a second-year international student stuck in the UK it’s been challenging to 'keep my spirits up' as everyone keeps suggesting. I live in Dubai, during the first lockdown I had to fly with four hours’ notice back home as Dubai Airport was closing to the public. Once I arrived there were many more precautions than the UK ever had or currently has. We had drones flying over our house checking nobody was on the beach, we weren't allowed out without a permit for emergency food or medication, if we were seen out for exercise, we would get fined and once lockdown was lifting three months later, we had to wear a mask everywhere, beach, running, malls, supermarkets. When the airport opened again in July, I had received multiple emails from the university stating we would continue our studies next year in person as well as online. I could not come to the UK without having accommodation, so I had to find a place to rent. After multiple emails and phone calls back and forth with the University, renting a place in the UK looked like the only choice I could have with the promise of in-person lectures. Come the beginning of October, Liverpool is in Lockdown Tier-3, I am stuck in my accommodation and I'm told I have university online for the entire year.

I am paying more than 30K to be sitting in a studio apartment joining Zoom lectures every other day for half an hour or one-hour maximum. It's mentally draining to wake up and know I can be with my friends, family, and home. The university has done nothing to support us regardless of constantly informing us that they are here for us, I can't sell my accommodation as they changed the contract to make sure we can’t be released. I live with nobody. COVID has restricted my course in all ways possible. I feel like I am wasting an enormous amount of money on something I am not getting half for. The gym was my coping mechanism, working out and focusing on my well-being, going on walks and runs however there's only so much one can do when they always come back to lunch, dinner, breakfast alone. I used to live with my boyfriend here, but the accommodation stated we can't have any visitors at all. Despite the government telling us we should have a support bubble?

I emphasize with students who are struggling, I emphasize with students who feel they are being left behind. I came here for an education, a better opportunity, yet I'm left with mental-health problems, loneliness, and anger towards the university. I hope the government understands what we've been left with and how vital it is to support our mental-health."



"The first week of March consisted of a student-staff forum, with many international students worrying about their visa status and staff discussing what would happen ‘if’ the virus continued to spread. Looking back, we truly had no idea what was going to happen. We were blissfully unaware that, within a week, our lives were about to change. In the next few days, the University of Leeds sent out a plethora of emails. Informing us that our lectures were cancelled, placements ended, and that staff were frantically moving our education online. The early days of the pandemic comprised of uncertainty, stress, and bewilderment.

During the first lockdown, I was buried in assignments and a dissertation. For the first time in my life, I found myself grateful for a multitude of assignments. Although it was draining to wake up and do the same thing continuously for months on end, throwing myself into education concealed the constant onslaught of doom and gloom in the outside world. Although libraries and online resources were limited, assignments were a source of continuity and salvation. Words I know I will never repeat.

I’d decided early in the pandemic to not go home. In the first week of lockdown, someone on my floor was displaying symptoms and going home to vulnerable family members was out of the question. I was thankful for my ‘urban family’, the continuous provision of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and of course, Disney Plus. We did more as a flat than we had done before the pandemic; themed nights, film nights, games (including a flat-wrecking game of tennis) and drinking a horrendous amount of alcohol.

I moved back home in August. Although happy to move home, I didn’t know how long I’d be home. I’d envisioned moving out within six months, getting a job in the cultural sector, and establishing myself in a career that I loved. In reality, I continued to work on my dissertation and applied to over two-hundred jobs. I stopped judging myself for not achieving what I set out for myself at the beginning of the year. In January, I had no idea what was in store for the year. 2020 was certainly not what I had envisaged.

Being a student in the pandemic created a sense of inadequacy. That I hadn’t quite finished my education, that I wasn’t experienced in areas I wanted to be, that I wouldn’t fulfil my ambitions. I felt employees would judge me as being inadequate and inexperienced, that this would seriously affect my prospects going forward.

It was, and still is, genuinely hard to not feel in some ways bitter about my postgraduate experience during Covid-19. Abandoned by the university, publicly blamed for the second wave and away from home during such an unprecedented time. Students became the victim of a divisive rhetoric from a government who refused to take responsibility for their lack lustre response to the pandemic."



"One year of coronavirus in the U.K., a year of going in and out of lockdowns, a whole year of education disrupted. When we entered a new decade, I expected Great Gatsby parties and an amazing finale to three years of university. Now, I’m learning it all online, my housemates are spread out across the U.K. and paying money for a house I cannot use. Where is the government? We did everything they asked, stay at uni, ate out to help out, did what we were told and now we are left behind. The word ‘University’ was not mentioned by Boris Johnson when we entered lockdown in January and now a piss poor amount of money has been thrown at us to shut us up. It’s truly insulting.

Our Universities? The places we pay £9,250 a year to teach and care for us. We are effectively being told to chin it. Produce the same quality of work as those who either only spent 3 months in lockdown as well as those who had no disruption. £9,250 for being ignored and our teachers being in the dark just as much as we are. No advocation from our universities and no true support.

I’m lucky enough to have a great support network of family and friends, some don’t have that. Some have taken their own life due to the isolation and torment this pandemic and lack of support has caused. To Compensate? We get token gestures that mean nothing in the long run. A year of the ‘best years of our lives’ has been taken away and nothing is being done by those who are meant to care.

The negligence of the government and the H.E. sector is near criminal, we deserve so much better."



"I had high hopes for the year 2020, and it seemed to be going well until March 14th. That was the day it all went downhill. I even remember the exact date, because I was told I would be going on an extended spring break and that we would be back in class in two weeks. Well, that never happened. I never went back. The last eight weeks of my undergraduate career was not at all what I had envisioned. My graduation ceremony was canceled and I never got to say goodbye to people I had spent 3 and a half years with.

I spent what felt like years at home taking online classes to finish my degree. It was time to move on to the next phase of life. I was not looking forward to the summer because I had been hired to work at the Olympics in Tokyo, but instead, my first job post grad was the drive through window at Taco Bell.

There was one day I was told I had to work a double shift. After eleven hours of being on my feet, I drove home and plopped down on a chair. From the corner of my eye, I saw a large envelope on the dresser addressed to me. I opened it and immediately began to laugh hysterically.

There I was in my childhood bedroom sweating in my Taco Bell uniform opening my college diploma. I have never experienced anything more ironic, hilarious and sad at the same time.

Truthfully, I have to look back and say that there were some positives. Covid allowed me to spend time with my family that I would not have been able to otherwise. Although the visa process was delayed because of covid and I missed my initial flight to the UK, I was able to spend a few extra days at home to process the sudden loss of a family member.

Upon arrival in Kent, I spent two weeks confined to my flat. I spent the days facetiming anyone who wanted to talk so I did not have to feel alone. I thought I was going to lose my mind. As new flatmates began to move in, I started feeling like I had a support system here. Moving to the UK from New York in the midst of a pandemic may not have been my brightest idea, but it has been my bravest. I have no regrets coming here, and just like 2020, it is nothing like I had imagined."



"Because Covid was as much of a risk in Hong Kong as it was England, I was somewhat trapped in my student house in Kent during lockdown. After my last housemate went home at the end of May, I started a near-hermit life – waking up alone, going grocery shopping alone, going to bed alone and repeat the silence again the next day. I etched a few things in mind during that time – must bring my keys when going out, as no one will be in the house to open the door for you; must remember what day to take out the trash, as now no else will do it for you; don’t be too alarmed when you hear strange noises coming from buildings next to ours, as being afraid won’t change the fact the house is dead-silent. While being in that excruciatingly long summer which felt like living an abandoned life, I have learned a thing or two about myself from the experience. At the end of the day, we cannot expect other people to be around us all the time, just as we cannot always base our happiness on others’ company. As we grow up, we learn not just how to cook, how to make the most efficient grocery trip, but more importantly how to entertain ourselves, how to be comfortable with ourselves, and how to rely less on those we love. Although that four months that I had might seem insufferable in the eyes of some, to me they were merely a different way to experience and experiment with life. We’re still young and the road is still long, what’s the harm in trying out something new?"



"During a course rep meeting with University representatives earlier this academic year, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah failed to guarantee that students would be reimbursed for this lack of service. One which was assured during the application phase. Even more infurtiating is the job cuts and redundancies being made during what is a dreadful and precarious time financially for many. The reason given for these redundancies was an effort to de-colonise the English Language and Linguistics curriculum, one that already boasts a ‘Multilingualism’ module and a staff that, from my experience, seem enthusiastic to encourage the study of different languages, different backgrounds and actively discourage language policing wherever offensive and unnecessary. I appreciate I’m not an expert and so want to avoid being so arrogant as to say there isn’t any issue with the MA’s curriculum, it’s not my place to assume such a thing. Decolonisation needs to be an ongoing effort and by no means should be ignored, however, this reasoning for the redundancies has since been withdrawn by the University after backlash from students and academics nationally. Perhaps I’m a sceptic, but it seems brilliant teaching staff are being sacrificed for a ‘quick-buck’ and during a period where people’s livelihoods are genuinely at stake (pardon the cliché). I hope this platform will allow the promotion of this cause, please sign this petition to help ensure future students receive quality education from experienced University staff at risk of losing their jobs. As much as I could complain about the study conditions during Covid (as I and any other student has the right to) it is the staff that have made it bearable and often as engaging as a normal year and it is only right this isn’t punished."



"To give a slight background to what my pandemic experience was like, let’s bring it back to the middle of March. My birthday, the 6th of March, was on a Friday. I had a great time, had some great cake, and hung out with my friends till the early hours of the next day.

The following week flipped my life upside down with no hesitation. Within 3 days, classes, flights, and my birthday trip to Amsterdam were canceled. I was left with nothing but worry and anxiety.

Within the first month or so of quarantine, I still had exams to study for. I had uni to distract me from my very sad and disappointing reality while stuck in an eight-room flat by myself. Even though I was able to use university as a distraction I was constantly in a dark place of distress.

Uni suddenly became a nuisance as I had to focus on not only studying but performing well on my exams. With no doubt in mind, I believe the pandemic played a big part in how I did on my exams. With so much financial and in-general stress on my shoulders, exams were in the middle of my to-do list.

While I was stuck here in university, my mother also, unfortunately, lost her job. On top of that, I lost a cousin to the virus in June which caused a lot of unnecessary family drama.

I never caught a break.

In all, my depression and anxiety were at their peak during the peak of the pandemic. I was all alone, my family was scattered, my friends were all living their lives and learning how to drive. I didn’t see a way out.

I’m thankful that I am still here and healthy due to the circumstances that are taking place in the rest of the world. My anxieties and problems, unfortunately, were my world while I was in the darkness, but since we have started back at university I can now finally have the support I needed from the people who care about me.

I can definitely say I will never be the same mentally after being in complete isolation by myself. For right now, I’m ok and I’m happy that I’m just “ok”.



"Lockdown has been a bizarre experience in all aspects of my life, some negatives, some positive. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience to spend this much time with my family, even if it has taken away a great deal of my independence. Losing my pet cat at the start of lockdown was difficult, but had lockdown not happened I wouldn’t have got to spend as much time with her before she passed or have been there when she was put to sleep.

Perhaps the more troubling part has been its impact on my mental health. I am fortunate enough to have very understanding parents, who have supported me during my job hunt – but trying to enter a highly competitive industry when there have been thousands of redundancies is heart-breaking.

Similarly, the cancellation of grad schemes has essentially ‘written-off’ the year and led me to search for a career outside of my chosen industry. The fact that I spend/spent everyday for the last few months reading, doing a bit of exercise, then looking and applying for jobs (over 100 by this point, hearing back from at most 10%) means the entirety of the last 7-8 months is a blur and any significant milestones, e.g. finishing my Masters or birthdays are somewhat anticlimactic."



"As university students, we really felt we had been screwed over in terms of the abrupt changes to the plan for next year. We were told in October last year that our course would move to Canterbury for the 2021-22 academic year, which we were quite excited about, because it would have been a new experience for us. However, because of the whole Covid situation, we were only told a month ago that it wasn’t going to happen.

We wished we were told earlier, as my friends and I had already signed up for a student house in Canterbury and had paid deposits for it a few months ago. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to get out of a binding contract.

Even if we had to stay in our contract and just lived up in Canterbury, commuting from Canterbury to Medway for uni just wouldn’t have worked for us, as it’s an hour each way. We did not want to be spending all that time travelling to and from campus multiple days a week, especially when the studios and equipment we need to use are in Medway. It seemed like it would have been too much for us.

Recently, we were advised by the university to find new tenants for the Canterbury house, much to our dismay. We did not agree that this was the right course of action, so we expressed that to them. We believed that it was not our responsibility to find new tenants for the house, as the new plans for the next academic year were out of our control. Even if we had found new tenants, we had no idea what we would’ve had to do next.

Update: From what we can gather, it looks like we are finally out of the Canterbury house contract, after over a month of not much progress being made. However, it was not easy at all getting this sorted. It took a lot of pushing and chasing up with the university and letting agency from us as a group to get to this point. We are all so glad, because now that means we don’t have to stress or worry anymore about having to try and get out of a binding contract and having to find new tenants for the house.

I think this whole situation has proved to me that sometimes the fight is worth it, especially if it’s for something you believe strongly in and something you really want. We shouldn’t have had to fight for this, but we did, and it thankfully worked out in our favour."



"Third-year of University began like how anyone would expect, excited to meet everyone again and a lot of work to start. Third-year was told by many previous students to be the most memorable and most challenging year. What no one was expecting was a pandemic and the worst recession ever to hit the UK.

From the start of my academic year, I was focused on my dissertation, and Newsday coursework and everything was going smoothly, with all my work being done on time, there was a routine that I could follow. When coronavirus started spiking around February and March, a lot of people started becoming aware and wary of what is around them. More and more students stayed in the halls, and fewer people were coming to class. The head of our course had a meeting with our year and said that the University would be shutting from mid- March till the foreseeable future. We lost the last four months of our third year and all of a sudden it was the last time we were going to see some of our friends.

Soon I left for home as did everyone else in my flat. For the first time in six years, everyone was at home simultaneously since my older brother had come back from Australia and younger brother from University, our home was hectic. With everyone at home, including my parents, with my dad also not going to work, studying was becoming difficult as I didn’t have a specific place to work as there were more noise and distraction than when I was at my flat near University. I realised that as time went by and deadlines approached my anxiety was increasing, and I was easily getting frustrated and giving up easily. The internet would not work, or my mouse would all of a sudden not work properly, which just added to everything going on. Eventually, with all the anxiety and frustration, the exams and dissertation were finished, but it never truly felt like it.

Speaking to some of my friends a lot felt of us that University didn’t feel like it was over after our exams because we never had a last farewell or graduation. After all, every university student expected that they would have the last night out with friends and then a graduation celebration in June/ July. But for us, it was just a submission button online that ended our third year, which was not the dramatic ending that anyone was expecting in September 2019. Now with the University over, the country was in recession, millions of people out of work and still recording hundreds of cases of coronavirus and we the newly “graduated” students had to look for jobs.

Beginning of the year in early 2020, I had applied for the BBC graduate trainee scheme as did almost all of our year hoping to get a job soon after graduating. I was only a few steps away from achieving my dream job, but as soon as the pandemic spiked in the UK, the BBC delayed and then scrapped its entire graduate scheme and encouraged us to apply again a year later in spring of 2021. This was a huge blow to my confidence in finding a job. Soon after other jobs that I had applied for came back with similar answers, “due to Covid-19, we are trying to reduce our staff numbers and will not be hiring any new recruits”. Through this stressful and demoralising time, my family has been supportive and understanding knowing that jobs are hard to come by and encouraging me to apply for any position open in the industry related to my degree so that I can get my foot in the industry. I am still applying for jobs and even somewhat optimistic that maybe eventually I will find a job."



"When Coronavirus first started, I was working in a fairly boring office job that I had planned to work in for a year between my History degree and then apply for a teaching course. When I applied, I thought, admittedly very hopefully, that 'It'll be over by the time I start'. Cases were on the down over summer, and with a competent government, combined with a world beating track and trace system what could possibly go wrong? When my teaching course started in September 2020, restrictions were in place in school; mask wearing, wiping down surfaces, hand sanitising, and social distancing. From September to December, these measures would get more severe, and instead of being at two schools in this period I just stayed at the one school. I was incredibly pleased about this change. I found the school I was at really supportive, with great members of staff who worked tirelessly to both teach students and help myself and the other trainees I met. The other trainees I met at this school were incredibly supportive, and I have remained in touch with them beyond leaving. I found the teaching and placements a great break from lockdown, obviously over the November lockdown schools remained open, and I was lucky enough to not catch coronavirus at any point. This meant that my experiences compared to other students will have been vastly different in this September-December period. I had met great people, developed teaching abilities, and found teaching extremely rewarding.

Over the Christmas break in 2020-21, I had assignments to do for the university side of the course, however, I was more worried about the rising cases and potential school closures, which were obviously confirmed on 4th January. Considering my grades from the recent assignments I handed in, maybe I should have worried more about these assignments. Also, I have now started teaching online, which has taught me many things about teaching online, the main one being to maybe not moan about online lectures being boring. Teaching online has come with obvious difficulties, and the higher attendance on lessons by higher ability groups says obvious things about the lack of laptops and Wifi for some students- or maybe it's just my teaching. Despite the supportive nature of the staff at my new school, it is not the same, and I have felt worse in the period January 2021 to now. I'm aware that I have been lucky to have a period where I was getting in-person learning, through my first placement, and do not understand how students who have had no in-person teaching have done it. As I write this, we are getting close to an announcement on- another, 'roadmap out of lockdown'. My simple hope is that this gives me a date close by to look forward to. I knew training to teach would be tough, just not this tough."



"As something that came unexpectedly, lockdown allowed us all to experience life out of its ordinary status. I feel that being in self-isolation put a different perspective within our minds as well as allowing us to learn more about ourselves."



"Lockdown was a great struggle for me – being suffocated to the confines of your own room, with the laptop webcam as your only friend.

The cancellation of A-levels seemed like having the carpet pulled from underneath your feet. Two years of study – for what? To have grades decided for you?

With that being said, the experience did offer glimpses of joy. Quality time spent with family allowed moments of reflection for what we’re grateful for, and random acts of kindness from the community showed that there is still hope."



"The night the initial lockdown was announced in late March, I was at my university accommodation. I called my parents and they wanted me home as soon as possible, so I packed and left the next morning. The roads were still just as busy as usual, it didn’t feel like the whole country had stopped. This was just the beginning, weeks quickly turned to months and pretty soon, I hadn’t left my house in over 4 months. I had been cooped up inside for so long that I began experiencing symptoms of agoraphobia and my anxiety worsened.

Agoraphobia - fear of going outside and being in public places or of being in a situation from which it might be difficult to escape or in which help might not be available
Cambridge English dictionary

My studies had been moved online in mid-March and I continued to watch lectures online until the exam period. Though online lectures were something I had encountered before, online exams weren’t. There was no chance of recreating exam conditions at home. On multiple occasions, my neighbours decided to start mowing their lawns or operating heavy machinery just as I was about to start an exam. The heatwaves didn’t help the situation either, a fan didn’t do enough and opening the windows just let the noise in.

The one thing I miss most about university from pre-COVID times is social salsa dancing. Due to social distancing and no-contact rules, social dancing is no longer a possibility and salsa dancing has been reduced to solo footwork.

Attending university virtually has been difficult to adjust to, primarily due to ‘invisible timetables’ and the changes in environment. Unfortunately, my neighbours can be extremely loud, making it difficult to concentrate. My broadband is not particularly strong either, creating connection issues on occasion which affects online meetings and live seminars.

The only benefits of a virtual university experience are being able to sit classes in pyjamas and being able to cut out travelling to the campus.

Overall, the university experience has drastically changed for many students, myself included. Knowing this is likely to be my one experience of university life, I feel as if part of this has been taken away from me which I cannot regain or replace in the future."



"This is not my first time.

“Do you know what you have to do?”

Yes.

“Do you have your Immigration form ready?”

Yes.

“They will ask for it at Heathrow.”

No one did.

‘Please, wear a face covering at all times,’ screamed every sign, while we got crisps, English lightly sea salted, pure butter shortbread rounds and a bottle of water on the plane. A woman sitting in between me and another person stood up and went to sit somewhere else.

There was enough space for all of us.

Flights got cancelled, Czech airlines cut all September flights to London from the 10th to the 30th. Even British Airlines cut London flights, from five-a-day to one.

This is not my first time.

I met some friends at the airport. Mainly freshers. Scared what will happen to them, how will the situation look like.

“So we really have to stay in quarantine?”

Yes.

“Do you think that they’re gonna police it?”

Yes.

“How do you know?”

This is not my first time.

They got food at Heathrow, walked slowly as I ran to the Express train. I have learned the way, knew every step. A journey with a happy ending – two weeks staring at the ceiling. Two weeks of being told: “it’s a shame you can’t have a pint with us.”

I know.

Put a face mask on when you’re standing on a platform.

It is the same in Prague. Public transport, any inside area.

Outside it is fine. I am on St. Pancras. Taking it off, just to put it back on.

I need to get tickets.

This is my first time with a mask on.

“Is that really you? Can’t tell with the mask on,” jokes a person identifying my railcard. I can’t even laugh. I’ve slept for four hours, finishing the immigration paper at two a.m.

“What is the exact address you are staying in for the quarantine period?”

“What are the full names of people you will be staying with?”

“When exactly will you arrive?”

If I did not bring it with me, I would get fined.

If I leave my house for any other reason than an emergency, I will get fined.

Fine.

I am home. A friend of mine greets me and says she is making dinner. I am taking my plate and I go to my room. I should not be in close contact with anyone.

“How do you know?” she asks me.

This is not my first time.

I remember coming home in March. It was the 15th. The Czech PM closed the gates on Friday, the British one the next week.

I was the only person in a facemask on a train. Everyone had them at Heathrow.

“Where did you come from?”

London.

“Two weeks in quarantine then.”

That was my first time. I arrived home and took my luggage to my room. I said hi to my parents.

I stayed in my room. Just like now, from the 19th to the 4th of September.

There was not much to do.

I was fortunate that I live with people from the UK. They bought groceries for me.

I was fortunate that I do not have to buy food online or rely solely on deliveries.

“So, what did you do?”

Nothing.

I’ve read through all the welcome week work and the first two weeks of my course.

I have started reading books I did not have time for otherwise, got into cooking, watched films on Netflix.

“So you were productive.”

No.

There was no feeling of accomplishment. Mornings started in my bed and ended there, the only route I could have done was to the fridge and back.

I saw sunrises and dawns only through my window.

“But you had workshops.”

Yes. In-person workshops I had to attend virtually.

‘Dear x, I am sorry that I will not be able to attend your lecture. Why? I’m in quarantine. Are you ill? No. I just came from the Czech Republic.’

It was the reason to change from pyjamas. And I am happy for it.

As this was not my first time, I awaited even more the date when I was set free.

Free to just go outside and see the world not through my window or computer screen. That day was awaited by me and almost every international student arriving in England.

Fresh air. Breathe-in, breathe-out. It is nice to be back.

I just hope that this was my last time."



"Firstly, since returning to uni this year I can already see the short and long-term effects that are much more prominent this year than last. Firstly, during the first wave in March/April, I was able to move back and live with my family however now I am back full time living at uni. Due to being in a high-risk area my family is unable to visit for the day or I am unable to go back home to visit, which is more than understandable but it is a worrying time as am not sure when would be safe to see them again. Secondly, due to the tight gathering restrictions, I am unable to socialise with people outside of my flat or make new friends. This can have a far widening impact on students' mental health as it can get very intense living in a tight bubble without any new social interactions. In addition, it is shame that this segment of students will leave uni with a much smaller of friends and social circle than previous generations.    

On a more day-to-day basis the spread of covid has even affected things such as food shopping. Due to fear of having to self-isolate it is hard to know when to do your shop, what to buy and whether to do a big shop or loads of little shops. To add to this you have to book over a week in advance to have your delivery online which can be a pain when self-isolating. 

In terms of uni, the lack of face to face content means it is hard to build up student-to-tutor repour and gain a full understanding of the concept of each individual topic.  

In addition, many things have not been working in the flat such as the cooker, WiFi, fridges and dishwasher, however, we have had to wait for weeks to get things fixed due to the increased slow service and isolation"



"Lockdown feels like it started so many years ago now.

Honestly, it’s hard to remember that a year ago life wasn’t like this. On Snapchat memories when you see pictures of you clubbing or even just being out with your friends without masks on, all huddling in for the same photo. That has started to feel like a lifetime ago.

Lockdown at the beginning didn’t feel so different for me, I wasn’t the most social of characters to begin with. It was suddenly when university was finished, and I was waiting to hear back about my grades that it hit me.

You couldn’t really go out with friends and you certainly couldn’t go travel. So, there wasn’t much left to do. Summer became a blur, a big long never-ending Tuesday.

Soon enough the colder months started to roll in and the decisions came up like an ugly roadblock. I either had to find a new full-time job in a time where jobs are scarce or go back to education in a time where education was moving all online. There was such a stark quality in the level of education I was getting but it was the same price.

Lockdown for me wasn’t hard in the way the government had painted it out to be. I didn’t lose my job or my home, but I lost a lot of my mental health. I lost a lot of myself worth and direction – I didn’t get my graduation, something that I had spent three years working towards. Things were suddenly up in the air with the rest of the year, the rest of my life. And I knew this was hurting more than just me – there is a whole demographic being affected by this. The A-level kids, the GSCE kids, they’ve lost that part of their life too."



"We tried to keep ourselves entertained throughout the evenings once everyone was done with their work and lectures. We had food deliveries come up in crates so we put two of our flat mates in them and were bumping them into each other or just pushing them around the corridor. We also tried to have movies nights and drank when everyone had a day off the next day."



"When the initial lockdown began it all felt so surreal. Now that we are in another lockdown it’s feeling heavier than the last one did for me even though right now I don’t have the same responsibilities as I did last time, I feel as though I have less freedom. The lack of job prospects right now, lack of space and freedom are all weighing on me heavily mentally and it is hard to navigate and to stay positive. I need to try to remember that all that can be done right now is take every day as it comes and try not to be so hard on myself for those things that are out of my control."



Credits

Interviews - Lily Morl

Supplementary Interviews - Rhodri Andrews (Akemi, Ellen and Anonymous X)

Principle Photography - Lily Morl

Website - Rhodri Andrews

Graphic Design - Rhodri Andrews

Editing text and sound - Rhodri Andrews


With special thanks to all those interviewed.


All anonymous contributions use the same model for the photographs.