Pandemic life: "I am reluctant to circle the 17th May in my calendar"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 6:05 am
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"Perhaps at this point in the pandemic I should no longer be surprised at the consistent waiting. Waiting to enter a shop, waiting for everyday activities to resume, and waiting for government guidance – these have all contributed to the soundtrack of 2020/21. But perhaps one of the most frustrating waits to date was the anticipation students were left in for months surrounding the return to university. I can say this because I am one of these students. It was only until Tuesday evening, just a day before I had planned to begin packing my suitcases yet again to return to my term-time accommodation, that we were instructed to stay at home until 17th May 2021.

"Without sounding too poetic, the best way to describe my first year at university is to liken it to that exasperating feeling when you let go of a plastic bag. As the wind takes it further and further away, it becomes more of a challenge to retrieve every time you attempt to grab it. Pushed to the back of the government’s minds, we rarely are provided with the information we need to hear until our hopes are the highest they could possibly be and a return to ‘normal’ university life seems so close in reach. Students and staff alike have been urging the government desperately for a sooner return, but to no avail.

"How come I can sit in a beer garden with a group of friends or push my way through a packed Primark store, but can’t sit in a socially distanced classroom gaining the knowledge I need to secure my dream career?

"For thousands of students across England, I can imagine this news will be a severe disappointment - and I don’t have to explain why. Anybody who secures a place at university visualises how they will spend their time, who they will meet and what they will learn, so to have not had the year any of us had imagined has in itself been a disappointment. But to discover just four days before many university goers travel to their halls or student homes that this experience will be pushed back for yet another month…it’s just something else to add to the list.

"I admit that had the government given us the green light to return to university this weekend it would have presented me with my own personal difficulties. Due to currently living with three close friends in my village this waiting period hasn’t been so painstaking for me, knowing that the prospect of leaving for university would have resulted in me also leaving a home that I love. This would have been particularly challenging, but any move from your comfort zone is. I am reluctant to circle the 17th May in my calendar for fear that the date will receive the classic Covid treatment and be yet another delayed event. However, to now have a time to work towards is a necessity that was beginning to feel like a luxury. (But if I were to count, it’s only 30 days).