For me, returning home from uni for Christmas was a good idea to start with, but now I can’t go back to the campus, I’m starting to regret it…

Even though some people liked the idea of the Christmas relaxation period so they could see loved ones, most people would agree that the second lockdown should have continued over the festive season. Eid and Chanukah [Muslim and Jewish celebrations] were celebrated, in a limited way, during the previous lockdowns. What made Christmas any different, risking people’s lives?

As a result of the second lockdown easing, we knew the third lockdown would be coming. City centres and high streets were like Black Friday and Christmas Eve combined. Those who predicted a lockdown will be glad that this one is similar to the one we had in March, which controlled the rate of infection, as opposed to the ‘relaxed’ one we had in November.

Some university students returned home for Christmas, including international students, while others remained on campus. Unlike students residing in this country, international students will have to keep an eye on the rules for their home country as well as the UK.

For me, returning home was a good idea to start with, but now I’m starting to regret it. Like most university students, I’m stranded outside of Norwich. While that has its perks, it also has its drawbacks. I miss the University of East Anglia: most of my time outside was doing my food shop. Having to rely on buses meant that I could only carry so many bags at a time, resulting in multiple trips off campus. Being stuck in Teesside results in boredom in four walls. I spend the majority of the time in the house and my mental state has gone back to what it was in the first lockdown. The only difference is this time I have the added stress of university work that I have to complete with very few resources. I’m longing for a near-to-normal timetable with lectures and seminars (as opposed to seminars only) so I can defeat procrastination. I would like to be able to get a job that I can continue throughout my time at university, but I’m unable to do that, being in Teesside and not having the guarantee of a transfer.

For the newbies who have lived on campus during the first semester (September – December), only being able to access the online library will bring the challenge of some books not having an electronic copy (e-book) available to download. Leaving study material in their rooms (I’m guilty of this!) will potentially make revising for upcoming online open book exams harder. An unstable internet connection and increased distractions won’t help studying either.

Those who have been a student during the first lockdown have been in a similar situation before. There is one plus side this time around – we have all mastered Blackboard Collaborate / Teams / Zoom.

UEA students who are unable to return back to their on-campus accommodation are being given a Christmas present from the university: eight weeks rent rebate. Even though some students may feel as though they are still being treated like cash cows with the price of rent, a rebate is better than nothing.

Everyone has swum this stretch before but, this time, we aren’t drowning. The pandemic isn’t over yet but look at how far we’ve come. Karma might not be on our side at the moment, but nothing is impossible – the word says, “I’m possible”. With the vaccines now coming in, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. This isn’t a repeat of 2020; we’ve already been through the eye of the storm. Instead, it’s the tail end of the hurricane. Give the vaccine time to be distributed. We will get back to some sort of normality eventually and be able to see loved ones once again, including any new arrivals. For now, we all need to play our part in defeating this menace.

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