“You should defer University for 2020 because it’s going to be rubbish…”
This is a phrase that many people said to me both in the build-up to results day 2020 and in the weeks that followed. But I believe that life is as good as what you make it. Is it really worth putting your life on hold for a year to have the “normal first-year university experience?”
For some people, it is, though for me I was ready to move on and embrace the next step, whatever it was to look like during a global pandemic!
Obviously, COVID19 made moving into halls and university slightly different. For a start, instead of 2000 students arriving in two days, we arrived across six. This meant that I had time to settle into my halls, get to know my housemates and cook my first meals before the business of freshers began. So, I personally enjoyed the staggered arrivals!
Coming from Northern Ireland meant that I had a little bit more of a journey than most of my housemates. However, I thoroughly enjoyed every part of it, from loading the car up, to the overnight ferry and drive down to Bath, to collecting my welcome pack and seeing my house for the first time. Because of the extra time that I had due to the spreading out of the arrivals period, I was able to take as long as I liked to unpack, explore, organise and personalise my room.
The move-in process of course had to be done in a COVID friendly way, though I don’t feel that this impacted it in a negative way at all! There were numerous volunteers and security staff on hand to help with whatever you needed. Whether it was directions to your accommodation, advice on what was open both on campus and in town or just a friendly chat! All in all, I felt that it was a very smooth process despite there being a global pandemic!
Once I had moved all of my things into my house, I then had lots of free time, which was brilliant. The weather was incredible for the entire arrivals week, as well as the weeks that followed. This meant that I was able to go on several of the stunning walks that all begin on campus.
This includes the famous “Bath Skyline”, the canal walk and the river walk. I explored Bath with my dad, trying out some of the countless cafes and restaurants! As well as venturing to Bristol and sampling it’s eateries while getting some additional items for my room.
As arrivals was staggered, the Students' Union decided to split Freshers' Week into three parts; welcome night, the build-up and Freshers' Week.
Welcome night gave everyone the opportunity to get to know their housemates while eating free Dominoes pizzas and without having to do any awkward ice breakers! The build-up then was a series of various activities both in-person and virtually so that you could take part either by yourself or with your house. These activities included a daily “Skyline Walk”, board game cafes, city tours, yoga and mindfulness sessions, virtual games nights, an indoor activity centre with inflatables, sports, TVs, games consoles and so much more!
There really was something for everyone!! And finally, Freshers' Week itself, which was jam-packed full, with things running both day and night!
As I'm sure you can probably tell I thoroughly enjoyed settling into university despite the impact of COVID-19. There was always something going on that you could easily get involved with. There were countless opportunities to get to know and spend time with your housemates as well as meeting new people from all over the world. So if you too are being challenged with the statement “You should defer university for 2020 because it’s going to be rubbish…” my advice is to simply go for it! I personally don't feel that I have missed out on anything by starting university life during a global pandemic. Yes, it has been different from previous years but maybe different is simply the new normal...