You were a sore topic amongst many a student. The fabled University experience snatched from the unaware student by a pandemic and a lull of governmental assurance whispered in their ears. For where clubs were closed and societies were struggling to manage to attract members and the University remained luddite toward technologies such as Zoom.
The trend of sardonic jokes relating to 2nd years appropriating the 1st year experience rings true in many ears. With events such as the fabled Loosecrawls offering OAP events for 2nd years, and a rise of fresh faces within Student Union activities akin to their 1st year contemporaries.
The question all lies on why?
The obvious answer rests on the accursed Covid 19. But the handling of the situation by universities was the more alienating aspect, with courses being stripped of any form of human interaction. Leading to slow decaying of modules and the classic cynicism of Students becoming intensified to an almost nihilistic tinge. Empty breakout rooms and barren societies, all elements of student contact outside of the practically non-existent nightlife.
Wellbeing services, whilst useful offered little and felt hardly there. A few sparse emails about the upcoming School wellbeing appointments, but for a unique crisis where portions of students were trapped in their living cubicles. It begs the question, was it enough? The clear answer for me was no, whilst referred to the service, limitations became key in preventing a large proportion of help with only being offered one on one talks and no stable forms of help.
Where Second year became truly the Freshers 2021 experience, being able to finally meet people within your course, discover societies and embrace what is truly the social aspects of Universities. To not be wrapped up in distinct colours of student politics and political outrage, from Rent Strike to 9k4what and tinges of Gavin Williamson looming over. To be able to go on the campus I was next door to and not have to defy the Draconian laws to be able to return home, 5 hours away.
Liberation is an apt word for Freshers 2021, whilst it may seem largely flamboyant with the 3am half drunk walks home, the sardine cans called Newcastle night life and the stiff icebreakers littered around ‘Taster sessions’ for University Societies. I would not trade it for anything else. For I truly, like a satisfied customer, feel like I got my worth and finally feel supported by a department that is actually there. To not be locked behind monitors and LCD screens, and be able to embrace University life.
A now-happy Stage 2 student who escaped your mess.