As part of a series of blog posts we are planning to publish during this time, Charlie, a final year Law Student. at the University of Essex has provided some answers to questions about her experience of the Covid-19 crisis. We hope you enjoy reading it!
If you are also happy to talk about your experience during this time, give us a shout by e-mailing Jeni at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Charlie and I am a final year Law Student. I work for both the Students’ Union and the University itself – most of you will recognise me as the Milk It and SU Bar Quiz Host. Bit of shameless promo, to find all the previous SU Bar Quizzes you can click here
How did you feel in the days leading up to lockdown?
I do not think the weight of the pandemic really hit me until I tweeted this in a lecture break:
9 minutes later the Vice-Chancellor announced that all face-to-face teaching was suspended. So, it turned out that I was sitting in my last ever lecture. Thereafter, it was a waiting game for answers about my jobs, graduation, coursework, my friends’ plans, how it was going to affect my family etc.
Devastatingly for me, to all intents and purposes, I lost my jobs. I absolutely love the work I do, and I had big plans for my final term. Furthermore, watching my housemates and friends leave was tough; knowing that I may not see them for months and I would miss many 21st birthdays and final year celebrations was pretty heart-breaking. I understand why many students went home to be with their families but to me, my housemates especially, they are as much family to me as my own relatives.
How is lockdown treating you?
Up until the past week, other than my weekly, unnerving trips to Tesco, lockdown has not really felt like a lockdown. My final degree deadline was on the 7th May and pretty much from a week before lockdown till that date I was working on coursework. I had 9 deadlines after the ‘Easter Holidays’ so really I behaved no differently than if there was not a lockdown. I just worked all day, every day, in my house. I think one of the only positives to come out of the pandemic for me is that I was prevented from spending 5 nights in Sub Zero during the last week of term, rather than studying.
Now my degree is over, the reality of the lockdown is hitting hard. I had plans to be back working almost full-time and finishing my University of Essex bucket list. For now, I am ticking off menial task like cleaning the house and completing my Big Essex Award application.
Coronavirus is really the best contraceptive for fun, right?
How has COVID-19 affected your future?
The job market is in disarray and so now I am working through the stages of grief to reach acceptance of potentially a long period of unemployment. It is difficult, because the majority of my friends cannot understand how this feels, they have either secured jobs or Masters offers and some have not finished their degrees. They do try, but it is challenging to see the seemingly empty future from my perspective. I always try to stay optimistic and I know this could only be short-term, but there is a lot of uncertainty.
That all being said, I am spending considerable time looking and applying for work and finding opportunities to build up skills and experience. I find my coping-strategy when I am stressed is to really exercise my work-a-holic tendencies and find a project. At the moment, I have been working with young people by designing and giving advice on their CVs. I also have plans in progress to start a blog/video series aimed at prospective undergraduates to offer information that I wish I had been told before and during my University experience.
How do you cope with the situation on a day to day basis?
I can almost hear my friends saying “don’t say it!”… but honestly, Tik Tok and the Sidemen have been keeping me laughing and entertained during this quarantine. I have my own Tik Tok account (@cleopatraeight) and I try to make content just to keep me busy. I am an Anti-Bullying Activist, so I aim to make the occasional content to promote awareness:
The best advice I can give to people struggling is to always have a plan for the next day. Whether that be painting by numbers, learning Tik Tok dances, reorganising your room etc. I used monday.com to make a list of everything I wanted to do once my deadlines were over and I am working my way through it. Try it out – it’s free for students!
Where are you and what’s it like there?
Currently, I am living on my own in Wivenhoe. It is definitely strange to being living in a house that normally has 6 other people buzzing around it, but I have enjoyed aspects of having the house to myself. Although, I am really starting to miss small things my housemates did like passive-aggressive Mario Kart Wii matches, cooking dinner together, yelling at the Amazon Echo over and over and the general house banter.
My parents are desperate for me to come home. I did not travel home before the lockdown because I knew I would achieve better quality coursework if I was in my normal study environment and working to my own timetable. My family understands, but I appreciate they are worried, and they miss me, so I hope I can see them soon!