By Ami Gill
The Smoke Detector kicked off its first episode this week and the topic was COVID-19. We give you a round-up of this month’s coronavirus news at university. Our team chatted with freshers about their experience of the pandemic. We also give you some top tips on making friends and getting the most out of your online classes.
As of last month, 10,000 students tested positive for COVID-19 up and down the country. With the highest number of cases coming from Manchester and Nottingham.
Here at Westminster, Harrow campus had 7 confirmed cases at the start of the month- the highest number at The University of Westminster. The Safety, Health and Wellbeing team have deemed on-campus teaching safe. This is subject to ongoing review.
Right now there have been no official announcements to stop students from going home for Christmas. The Education Secretary has advised that some students may need to self isolate before heading home.
For first-year students, this has been an unusual start to their university careers. Our team spoke to freshers, Maria at Oxford Brookes and Alexis at The University of Westminster.
Maria is living in halls and just before her interview told Smoke that she had signed a petition to have tuition fees lowered. This has been a concern for many students across the country.
She tells us that this year has had its ups and downs and that the restriction on socialising has been hard. She says: "The biggest issue is not being able to meet people” and that she would like to see more societies running.
Despite the diminished social interaction and the threat of the virus, Maria says she doesn’t regret her decision to not defer a year. She even goes so far as to say that she has had more responsibilities and that this year has meant her and other students have built more resilience.
Alexis from The University of Westminster shares in Maria’s optimism for this year. He's a Spanish student living off-campus and after his quarantine, found he was able to socialise with people and explore London, something he has always wanted to do.
As we have seen, socialising this year is difficult for freshers and making new friends is even harder. Smoke’s team has some tips for helping you get out and about:
1. Check out the university’s societies. Many are still running, even if it’s socially distant.
2. The Student’s Union is still running various events, many virtually, and is still a great way to meet new people.
3. Make an effort to go out with flatmates. There are some discounts and deals around the city.
4. Parks are a great place to meet up with friends. Make sure you observe guidelines and wrap up warmer. Check the tier system of the area you are visiting.
It’s so good for mental health to go out and make plans, especially as we edge into winter.
By now many of us are used to online classes but it can feel like you’re not making the most of your studies just watching a screen in bed. Here are our tips for studying this year:
1. Make notes throughout the session and then rewrite or type them up straight away
2. Try not to attend classes from your bed but instead have a designated study area
3. If you have multiple classes make sure you eat, drink (non-alcoholic) and exercise between each session
4. Reduce screen time after class, this means avoid scrolling through Instagram after class
5. Participate in classes. Write in the chat, put your hand up to answer questions - this will keep you engaged with the lesson
6. Make sure you reward yourself. Go for walks, exercise, eat chocolate, anything to give yourself a boost
7. And remember, you are not alone in this situation. There are students over the world who feel the same way