COVID-19 has robbed final years of the time of their lives. We’re allowed to be upset
We had months left with our friends, but that time was snatched away
We all knew it was going to happen but it still hit hard when it did. My flatmates and I were sat around our kitchen table discussing the rumours when we got the email that all face to face lectures were cancelled for the rest of our final year. We’d been at uni for the last time and we hadn’t even known.
In the days that followed the emails just kept coming, last matches cancelled, AGMs cancelled, balls cancelled, library closed, graduation postponed, all exams to be taken online, everyone being urged to travel home as soon as possible and all students to be banned from campus within the week.
Uni students are not among those affected in the worst ways by the coronavirus. Yes, there are SO many people who are worse off than we are. Yes, we remain lucky and privileged. But we are allowed to be heartbroken. We are allowed to feel like something has been taken from us. I have been at uni for five whole years. FIVE. I studied English and French, notice the past tense of studied because, though I’m not even finished yet, it feels like it’s very much over.
Over the past few months, every one of us final year students has had something keeping us going. It could have been getting that diss pic you had 10 different captions planned for, not dissimilar from the ones you’ve flicked through every March for the past few years.
Maybe it was imaging the feeling of walking out of your last exam, showered in Aldi prosecco by your already steaming mates. Co-ordinating a grad holiday around 10 different schedules was like a course in itself, but once the booking confirmation Insta stories flooded in it didn’t even matter.
We’d all planned out the grad pics, not caring about our ill-fitting robes, waving those scrolls in the air. Of course it would have been sunny, and of course the ball would be messy.
We had months left with our friends. Months left to get raging at each other for leaving dirty dishes on the side, or to have microwave meals together and for it to get to midnight before you knew it, or to work through your bucket list of things you wanted to do together before you finished.
The months turned into days, or in some cases hours, before we could even blink.
We’ll click ‘submit’ on a screen to hand in our dissertations, if we’re lucky our parents will buy in a bottle of prosecco on the day of our last online exam, a solo paddling pool afternoon in the back garden is probably as close as we’ll get to a grad holiday and graduations will happen when they happen.
I’ve been on my uni dance society since my first week at university, I was one of those freshers who went to the fair with one stall in mind. I went from new member to competition team president through my time at uni, and honestly probably wouldn’t have gotten through uni without it. Last week I had my last dance class without even knowing it, my final showcase was cancelled and most of my friends left before any of us could say goodbye.
Hats off to the unis, who have been more supportive than we would probably have ever imagined. Constant updates and support might not fix anything, but they help.
Anyone who talks badly of final year students mourning the loss of their uni lives didn’t have a good time at uni themselves. These have been the years that helped us grow into the people we will continue to be for the rest of our lives, to have them snatched from us early is nothing short of devastating. I was 18 when I started, I am finishing age 22 and a completely changed and better person, no matter how cliché it sounds.
Our friends and memories aren’t going anywhere. We have to stay positive in this dark time, we need each other to help us keep pushing. Let’s get this thing finished, even if it isn’t in the way we’ve always imagined it would be.
We will get through this and we will have our time.