Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Coronavirus: Students prepare for socially-distanced university life after months of lockdown

In Manchester alone tens of thousands of students are returning to university after months of living at home during lockdown.  

But with freshers week cancelled and the city’s nightlife non-existent, the social aspect of life at university will be hugely different.

There are already huge concerns from the government, health bosses and universities that with the arrival of students to university accommodations and shared homes, the spread of coronavirus within this generation could increase.

We spoke to some students in Manchester to get their thoughts on returning to university.

Samantha Mcquigan, second year student

Samantha says she’s happy to be back with her friends in a shared house.

With a garden, they’re hoping to host small socially-distanced parties instead of going to pubs and bars.

“I think at the end of the day it’s about being considerate for others, young people might not be at risk but its about who else you put at risk and that could be the old lady in Tesco.”

Talking about house parties, Samantha said coronavirus is at the back of her mind.

“It’s a concern, I’d hate to be responsible for someone to get coronavirus, be ill in a serious way or to die from it,” she said.

“I think young people are less aware of the impact it can have especially because we don’t tend to watch the news enough.”

Sasha Andreeva, third year student

“I think there will be more house parties, people will end up meeting with each other because you’re in a city and it’s easy to get into that temptation, house parties will be a normal thing now.”

Sasha studies at the University of Manchester. She lives in a shared house with friends but is concerned about so many people coming back to university.

“I think there will be an increase in cases again, it’s inevitable.

“Some of my housemates have elderly family members so they’re being a lot more cautious about it than other people.”

Holly Cousins, second year student

“A lot of young people think it won’t effect them, that’s the attitude of a lot of students.”

Holly has stayed in Manchester throughout lockdown, but she says it’s been lonely, with not many friends around at all.

But as she goes into her second year at university, a lot of her friends are coming back and house parties are on the cards.

“I know a lot of people are considering parties and group gatherings,” she says.

“I think because clubs are shut and no one has done anything for so long, everyone is bored of being stuck inside and it doesn’t feel so serious having 20 people in a house as opposed to going somewhere with 100 people.

“But I know it’s not safe when you’ve got eight households coming together in one house and they invite eight of their friends. It’s hard to keep control of it especially when everyone is drinking.”

Emily Gore, second year student

Emily says being away from her university friends during the pandemic has been difficult and she’s glad to be back in the house with her friends.

Speaking to us the morning after a house party, she said life back at university will be different. “We can’t have the big gatherings we had before, but it is what it is.

“It’s my birthday in a few weeks, before coronavirus we were planning to have a big party, and now we are having to rethink about it because it’s not best.

“I think some people will have house parties, but some people are more concerned than others so it’ll depend on each house and each person.”

“A few of us have older parents, so it wouldn’t be great taking stuff back home, I think a lot of people will stay at uni and avoid going back home to protect older people.”

Harry Mottler, third year student

“I’ve just come back from Edinburgh and they’re taking it seriously, in Manchester it feels like they’re not taking it that seriously.”

Harry lives in a house with other third year students. He thinks that house parties should be allowed provided people are only going to mix with young people.

“I think house parties could be a huge concern, if you live with young people it’s fine, but if you’re going to go home to older people then you shouldn’t do it.

“It’s inevitable that students will hold house parties because clubs are shut. If the government are letting people come out of lockdown then it’s down to them because they’re making it seem like it’s not a serious problem. They would know, unless they’re doing it for economic reasons.”

Sam and Lemar

Sam and Lemar share a house together with other students. They’re excited to be back at university with friends after months of little socialising.

“It’s pretty good to be back, it’s a welcome change from being at home all the time so I’m looking forward to it to be honest,” says Sam.

But they are frustrated that clubs aren’t open so they can enjoy what is meant to be normal uni life.

“It’s annoying that clubs are shut, but bars are still open so we can’t complain,” Lemar says.

“I think with thousands of people coming here soon, it’s going to be hard to control, people are just going to do what they want. It’s all a bit up in the air in the minute and house parties will definitely be happening.”

Sam added: “I won’t be hosting any house parties, I know they’ll be happening we’ll just see what happens.”

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