How coronavirus stole our send-off

Rachael Willets·6 July 2020·4 min read
How coronavirus stole our send-off
The development of the coronavirus pandemic was as rapid as it was confusing: everyone thought it was an overreaction to a virus ‘less deadly than the flu’, but it managed to quickly mutate into a serious crisis that threatened our well-established student life. During these days my friends and I, along with many other students, were piling into the S.U bar as normal, assured that it would all blow over in a matter of days. Both students and lecturers were speculating that the university might close, but we could never see it happening. It will all be over soon.

But it was only days later after that trip when we received the email announcing the worst – that the university was going to be closed for the rest of the academic year. We all felt a range of emotions at once – shock, confusion, sadness, and notably a lot of anxiety about how the rest of the year was going to work. The news devastated every student, but these feelings fell even heavier on me and my fellow third years whose time at university had come to an abrupt end. So many parts of our university life were over before we knew it – visits to treasured spots on campus, the stressful yet bonding study sessions at the library, and our last few nights out in a city that had become our second home. We were already feeling the nerves of our final year coming to an end, having become happily comfortable in our student lifestyle, but there was a comfort found in those last final months in which we could adjust to the change in the company of our valued friends before leaving for good. But all this was now lost.

These closures meant that universities across the country were forced to provide a less than smooth transition to online learning; both a huge disruption and downgrade from the valuable face-to-face lectures that shaped our learning. We were all now tackling our mounting deadlines alone in our hometown bedrooms. Not to mention that the library full of essential resources had also become inaccessible. Our final year had become a sort of empty shell of our three-year experience; both nothing and everything had changed. Of course the exam period came on quicker than we realised, and we were without the support from both tutors and friends that would ease this difficult period. Though we did strain to find solace in sporadic Skype calls, what we really wanted to do was to unite at The Brookhouse, our local student pub, pint of solidarity in hand, and take a well-deserved break from our worries in the company of our fellow students. Worse yet, gone was the euphoric feeling of submitting your final assignment, coming together with your friends in new-found freedom, and celebrating how you managed to pull off yet another year.

Of course we know amidst this crisis we should remain grateful that, as students, most of us aren’t vulnerable to the virus. However, this gratitude does not discount the grief that we feel in coronavirus stealing our send-off. Us third years have spent three life changing years homed by a city and community that gifted us with independence, knowledge, and companionship in ways we could never have anticipated. And with graduation indefinitely postponed, we’re left wondering when we will finally be able to come together and commemorate our achievements. I know that many of us will be eager to return to campus and revisit those special people and places one final time before saying goodbye for good.