Going back to university, or even starting it, is something I’m sure a lot of us are looking forward to. Seeing friends again, having the structure, routine, and freedom that comes with it are all reasons to be excited. Personally, I absolutely love what I study and I’m really looking forward to having that sense of purpose in my life again, but I’m also apprehensive about what else will be part of the uni experience this year.
Obviously, there is still a pandemic going on. I stayed in Southampton throughout lockdown and the summer and I have a job here working for University Accommodation. As we are preparing for intake, I can’t help but feel more than a little bit scared about the hordes of people which will be flooding into Southampton in their thousands in only a few weeks.
The time when we weren’t allowed out of the house at all doesn’t feel like too distant a memory, yet now there is going to be a mass migration of people coming from all over the world. This isn’t just a concern for Southampton, but universities all over the country. The amount of people travelling and mixing is an undoubtable risk, no matter how many precautions we take.
Fundamentally, it is impossible to control people. Even if there are quarantines and guidelines and social distancing rules, people will break them. Someone with a bit of a cough will probably dismiss it because they don’t want to miss out on catching up with friends for the first time in months or making new ones. And there we have another outbreak.
People talk about Freshers Flu and the inevitability of that because diseases go around pretty easily at uni. I have managed to catch the infamous Flu 2/2 years so far, despite barely going to any of the events (I honestly just spend most of Freshers in the library).
If we talk about Meningitis, students are vaccinated against that before they go to university because it is recognised that a deadly disease can spread easily around campuses and halls. Yet we are going back without a vaccine for Coronavirus?
Maybe I get a little bit more nervous than most because I have asthma. It’s not the worst condition to have alongside Covid, but even a normal cold hits a lot harder when I can’t breathe properly. Asthma is a very common condition, so a lot of people like me might be feeling apprehensive, saying nothing of those at even greater risk of suffering complications.
Even without any underlying health conditions, I would still be concerned about catching the virus or passing it on to others. Just because we are young, it does not make us immortal. Not everyone has the privilege of health, and it would be reckless to assume otherwise.
This is all before we get back on campus for lectures. Even if we socially distance, a number of people sat in the same room for an hour or longer, breathing in the same air, will mean that everybody is at risk of infection. It only takes one person who does not take safety measures seriously enough when they’re feeling a bit ill to bring the virus onto campus.
So yes, I’m more than a bit worried. I’m actually scared. It’s being said that universities will be the care homes of the second wave, which is not a prospect I’m looking forward to. This is my final year and I want things to go back to normal, but I have a horrible feeling that they’re about to get a lot worse before they get better.