The Covid-19 pandemic entered our lives unexpectedly and has sent everything into a frenzy. A rise of tension and worries together with boredom and uncertainty, the effect has been significant on people’s lives around the world. The forgotten souls of the pandemic are University students. My experience of lockdown resembles that of many young people in the UK. While finishing my 2nd year of university online at a moment’s notice, I also worked as an essential worker.
Many assume the impact of the pandemic on students is limited to missing out on parties or wreaking havoc away from the watchful eye of their parents. This year, however, rather than students, it’s the Covid-19 crisis that has caused havoc. Courses were quickly moved online and face to face teaching disbanded.
Late March saw the sudden cancellation of my face to face lectures with little to no information forthcoming for weeks. Will I be able to finish the year? How will my results be counted towards my final grade? I asked myself these questions. Despite the passing of time, I find myself and others still left with a high degree of uncertainty.
82% of students have expressed increased concerns over academic performance. Allowances such as grade predictions and cancellations of exams have supported A-level and GCSE students. I wonder when university students will receive the same treatment?
Lockdown’s effect on mental health
A sense of panic set it during the first lockdown with many students scrambling home before the introduction of restrictions. Others, like me, chose to stay. The Government insisted that it would only be for three weeks. Fast forward 3 – 4 months later when restrictions finally began to lift. It’s safe to say being locked in a small ensuite room for such a long period definitely has affected me.
The mental health charity Mind thinks that 60% of people have experienced worsening mental health during lockdown. Sixty-eight per cent of young people say their mental health has gotten worse. For me, confined to my accommodation, the best way to ride out the lockdown was keeping busy and picking up a multitude of new hobbies such as cooking, painting and bike riding.
Whilst focusing on maintaining my wellbeing, it seemed nothing could cause my assignments to be cancelled. Not even the worst pandemic in a generation! Grappling with four assignments due within two weeks and coming to terms with a new teaching style, it was already a stressful situation. Together with technical difficulties and miscommunication, made worse with lecturers seeming not to know much more than me. It’s a miracle I made it out with 1sts in both my modules. However, once one chapter ends another begins.
Navigating the job market
With my second year of university behind me, I turned my attention to a rapidly approaching placement year. After months of looking for opportunities, my experience had made me anxious about the prospect of applying to graduate jobs. The idea of competing with people having years of experience, made redundant due to the deteriorating economy, made me anxious. According to Westfield Health, 41% of people believe their financial situation will worsen over the coming year. It’s not a surprise to find out that many in the country are feeling the same way as myself.
My role as a digital marketing intern at Cheddr has been a bittersweet addition to my experience. I can begin my journey to a future career in marketing. However, I find myself back where I started; confined to my small room. I eagerly await weekly shopping trips and daily walks to break up the days and weeks. I’ve kept a positive outlook, viewing the challenge of lockdown as an adaptive learning experience. As the UK’s second lockdown comes to an end, now is a great time to reflect on your own lockdown story.
How has lockdown affected you?
It’s crucial, especially in these circumstances, to maintain your wellbeing no matter the strain you are feeling. Check out Mind.org for tips on how to cope with your mental health during Covid. Additionally, sign up to our newsletter and check out our social media for suggestions on improving your wellbeing.
Written by Ashley Edwards, Digital Marketing Intern