Reflecting on COVID19 as a student who started and ended her degree in the midst of the global pandemic. (HIST30060)

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Reflecting on COVID19 as a student who started and ended her degree in the midst of the global pandemic. (HIST30060)

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I’ve selected 5 different photos which give a little insight into being a tertiary student during the COVID19 pandemic. I started my Bachelor of Art degree in March of 2020, fresh out of high school. I was so incredibly excited and had a great first few weeks (I think one or two) and O-Week. I was lucky enough to go on a first year Arts student camp in February, where I made a handful of friends that I am still close with today; it was this small social interaction that really served as the bulk of my Uni social life for my degree because ‘going online’ severely stunted my ability to connect with new people. In the screenshot of a Zoom conference call, I am having a zoom call with some of the people I meet on this camp, a kind of ‘reunion’ during the first lockdown in 2020.

Reflecting on some of the other limitations on the social life of a young student who is very social, I have included a screenshot of an Instagram post I did in April of 2020. It was my 19th birthday, and my ‘obligatory’ birthday post for the year looked a lot different to other years. Rather than being out celebrating with friends in real life, we did a group zoom call where we sang Happy Birthday and my friends watched me cut my cake through a screen. Some people got dressed up, donning dresses and a full face of makeup, to just wash it off when you clicked the camera off for the night. It was lovely to connect but looking back at these pictures now just leaves me with a strange, eerie feeling.

I have included a picture of my university set up, a table in our garden and my dog, Margot. I found it really hard to study in my house all the time, so I would often try to move around to different study zones in my house. I really focused on my study during lockdown, it felt like it was a productive use of time and something I could channel my thinking into. However, thinking so much about University, and always having it in my home (it was not like I was moving between a ‘home space’ and a ‘study space’) was really tiring and draining. Every day just felt the same. I have decided to take a gap year next year rather than moving straight into post-graduate study because I don’t want to feel that same kind of burn-out again.

Finally, I have two pictures which encapsulate some pass times during lockdown. One is my sister painting my bedroom walls; we did a lot of home improvement and beautification, giving ourselves little tasks and jobs that we could complete and feel satisfied with. The other picture is my sister and dog on the beach during a winter’s eve walk. I included this picture because her mask is visible. This picture was taken when there were restrictions about the quantity of family members you could walk with, the time you could leave your house, the necessity of wearing a mask and how far you could go from home. When this picture was taken, we had a curfew in place in Victoria (I think you had to be home before 10pm), you could only walk with household members, but only in groups of two at a time, you could not go further than 5km away from your home and you had to wear a face mask even when just walking your dog to a quiet beach. Reflecting on these harsh rules and the feelings I had at the time makes me feel quite sad as I feel like I missed out on so many experiences that I was promised with my university degree.

My experience as a Bachelor student was so far from what it should have been; so while I am extremely proud to be graduating in a few weeks, proud that I loved what I studied, felt empowered by what I learnt and feel like my academic skills have improved so much, I feel sad that I missed out on social connection, a sense of belonging to a school community, meeting people who are outside my regular circles, experiences with clubs and teams, not being able to use campus facilities and spaces. I am so lucky that I was extremely privileged in the lockdown, my family was all healthy, safe, we had minimal arguments, and they made me smile despite the circumstances; my friends were beyond wonderful, and I had a safe place to live and access to my university and learning online. But when I think back to the lockdowns and the impact of them, I still can’t help but get emotional. More than anything, I always find myself shocked about what we all went through and how unique it was.

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Reflecting on COVID19 as a student who started and ended her degree in the midst of the global pandemic. (HIST30060) Linked Data Image

This item was submitted on October 30, 2022 by Ali Lo Giudice using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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