The big anticlimax - graduating during a pandemic

Written by Lauren Martin, 21.

"Your time at University is the best years of your life". How many times have we all heard that? When you go to university you are full of ideas and expectations of what the next three years of your life will be like. Or at least I did. First year was all about meeting people, getting to grips with being away from home and adjusting to this new life I was about to lead. By second year I was settled and was just plodding along until the next assignment. But by my third and final year I was ready to put the work in. I was ready for the late nights of reading, the endless days staring at my laptop screen and the lack of socialising. Because I knew at the end it was all over and the celebrations and wave of relief could begin. I knew the last year of uni would be the hardest and most exhausting months of my life but I could never have predicted trying to graduate during a pandemic.


At least I got to ‘attend’ lectures from the comfort of my bed and pyjamas

Obviously as the whole country went into lockdown that meant that classes moved online. I can admit I wasn’t always the most present student so at first I didn’t think online classes would make much of a difference. Despite our tutors doing the best with what we had all been given, I think it made a huge impact on the student experience, no matter what year we were a part of. I found it harder to concentrate and actually connect with the teacher and the lecture itself and it took away from my routine because I didn’t have to get up and ready for a class - I just had to turn a laptop on and log in, and with that came even less motivation. It felt as though I was doing my degree half-heartedly despite it being completely out of my control. But hey, at least I got to ‘attend’ lectures from the comfort of my bed and pyjamas for a short period of time.


No one had answers or solutions because no one has ever had to do this before

Because we had no face-to-face interaction with our tutors I just automatically went into panic mode. I was convinced I would fail or even worse, they would scrap this year and we’d start again in September. No one had answers or solutions because no one has ever had to do this before.


I can imagine for anyone leaving university it is a weird experience. We go from having a real focus in our lives, we have independence and a whole lot of pressure. We have this whole other part of our life that is separate from everything back home. So to go home and then juggle all the stress of assignments and classes in our home environment was very tough for me. Then on top of this we have our own and other people’s health to worry about.


I finished three years of university sat at the desk in my boyfriend’s room, ‘attending’ a lecture I almost forgot to log in my computer for

As much as I enjoyed university and working on my writing, the closer I got to the end, the happier I was. I was at the point of acceptance, it had been a good three years and I was okay with it coming to an end. All that was getting me through was the feeling of handing in my last assignments, going out to celebrate and returning home to continue the celebrations and prepare for the next stage of my life. Unfortunately Coronavirus took that all away.


My last class was meant to be Friday 22 May 2020, in a class room with people I had surrounded myself with for the last three years. We might have gone out that night or the next, I might have got myself and my housemate a takeaway to celebrate, my boyfriend was going to come up for the weekend so we could enjoy my last weekend in my uni town and then move me home. Instead, I finished three years of university sat at the desk in my boyfriend’s room, ‘attending’ a lecture I almost forgot to log in my computer for.


I am grateful for the celebrations I have been able to have, praise from my family and friends, a cheeky bucks fizz here and there. But I could never have imagined the lacklustre end I would have to my degree.


This contribution was written by Lauren Martin, 21. Visit her profile here to find out more about the voice behind the words.


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