Your College Aunts Week 5: Lockdown 2.0

Guess who’s back, back again…Your College Aunts, but also a cheeky national lockdown

Well, Boris clearly wasn’t given enough Halloween candy as a child. Quite the trick he’s pulled there. And of course, it had to start at the beginning of Week 5, just to help cement those Week 5 blues. Okay, enough negativity, that’s not what you came here for. Time for some uplifting advice! (Xanthe is a big The Thick Of It fan, so to start, just to make you smile, enjoy this tweet that was making the rounds at the start of the last lockdown. It’s a bit sweary, but these are arguably sweary times.)

Q1: Need to earn money during this time but struggling to find sources of income, especially as a student. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Technically Cambridge forbids us from having jobs during the term, but in practice, I know students who have a side hustle, and it provides them with that extra income, yet they still balance it with work. Obviously, retail/service industry jobs are few and far between now, although I imagine Deliveroo and UberEats, as well as the independent delivery services, might let you join. I also used to use Beelivery when I was at home over lockdown and I made £7-8 per delivery on local deliveries in my town.

Otherwise, you need to get creative and come up with something new. If you have technical or creative skills, you could offer them on sites like Fiverr or sell physical stuff on Etsy. I’d love to have some cute handmade masks, so if you can sew, get some fabric and go at it. Maybe try tutoring, as lots of children have had a tough few terms at school and will need some extra support filling in the gaps in their learning. Friends from home have had success on some tutoring sites, so you can set up a profile there.

If you are strapped for cash right now you should look into what bursaries college/uni can offer you because they are available for those in need. Please don’t think that it’s acceptable for you to be struggling to make ends meet; living here is expensive even in lockdown and the uni has a duty to help you.

Q2: It’s scary to think the future may hold more of this. Are pandemics going to become the new normal?

As much as part of me believes in manifesting, in dreams having secret meaning or horoscopes being true, I’m not a soothsayer. That said, I am of the view that this will have long term impacts on how we live our lives, both positively and negatively. Because we live in such a highly and densely populated world, infectious diseases are a growing worry, and the WHO were about as useful as a chocolate teapot at stopping this early. That said, hopefully we as a nation have learnt something from this, so that next time we can handle it better: Wash your damn hands people, and don’t push into each others’ personal space!

In general, the best way to deal with being scared is three-fold. 1) Accept you cannot control the choices of others or the situation at large, and so, therefore, expending energy stressing will only hurt you further and be completely unhelpful. This is the hardest part, and we can all get trapped in failing to do this and then lying awake at 2am thinking about the most ridiculous stuff. 2) Take control of what you can affect, and do the best you can with it. In this case, I’m saying take care of your own health and use your common sense. Carry hand sanitizer, don’t go into work when you’re ill even it’s just a cold, be considerate of cleanliness in communal settings. Don’t become cleanliness obsessed, just be sensible and understand that being pragmatic about it is best. 3) Spread the message to get others thinking about this issue. In the case of the pandemic, the government has probably made some decisions that you think are wrong, so write to your MP or get behind campaigns that are trying to make a difference. Donate to organisations that are helping with this crisis. Ultimately, if you don’t want this nightmare to be repeated again, make sure those in charge know they have to do better by you.

I hope that there is at least another 100 years between this pandemic and the next, but I can’t promise you anything. Please don’t lie awake at night worrying about it. Live your life without fear of things you cannot control, otherwise, you aren’t really enjoying the wonderful life you’ve been given. I know that’s easier said than done, but just try your best. That’s all any of us are doing.

Q3: I want to make moves to someone in the year above me at uni but I just find the idea so intimidating. I don’t want it to become ‘chat’, I just like spending time with this person and think we might be suited to dating. How do I approach the situation?

I think you’ve got to remember that in any context other than university, or even in any other university, a one year difference literally means nothing. If you genuinely like spending time with this person then just go for it! Ask them out on a date – you have nothing to lose. Yeah, sure it might be ‘chat’ for a few days but that shouldn’t stop you from doing whatever the hell you want to do. People will always talk and, quite frankly, that says a lot more about them than it does about you. You’re more likely to regret not making a move on someone you think you could genuinely date than you are to regret having people mock you for a week for doing something you wanted to do.

If you’re worried about how to ask someone out, I would always recommend being as direct as possible to save confusion, but if that intimidates you then you can always go for a slower, more indirect approach. Ask to hang out one-on-one and try to gauge the vibes. Hopefully, if you feel like this is a person who you could date, they feel somewhat similarly to you and so things will naturally flourish from you making this first move. If they don’t, that’s also fine and you’ll get over it and ultimately come out better for it.

Q4: I’m a finalist but have no idea what I want to do after uni and I’m not in a position to just live off my parents and take a gap year. I know a 2:1 Cambridge BA opens doors but I just have no idea which doors to even look into

It feels kind of hard for me to attempt to answer this question when I feel like this might be me next year, but I’ll try my best anyway.  The best thing you can do when you don’t know what to do is to do something. Believe it or not, but indecision is actually a decision. The current economic climate isn’t the best to be graduating into, so you’ve got to make the most of it. Try and narrow down your search to areas that you don’t think you would absolutely despise working in and from there start being active. Apply to as many things as you can, whether that be jobs or Master’s degree, and work from your acceptances and rejections. Notice how this requires action on your part – it’s easy to flail around in a space of indecision, but nothing will change until you try to do something. Also, Cambridge literally has a careers service whose whole purpose is to talk students through these kind of things, so definitely make use of it and get in touch with them- they should be able to give you some more specific advice.

In more hippie terms, remember that when you put energy out into the universe (or in your case the job market) there will be a response, whereas if you do nothing, the universe (or again, job market) will reflect this. You can’t expect things to happen for you if you don’t try to make them happen. It’s okay to have no idea what you’re doing, I’d argue none of us really know what we’re doing…  it’s just some of us are better at hiding it than others. Plus, you’ll never get closer to knowing what it is you could possibly want to do without trying multiple things first, making a few mistakes and learning from them. It’s very rare to enter all the right doors (that is if there even are right doors) on your first attempt in your early twenties, so try and remove that pressure from yourself and, once again, know that sometimes it’s better to make a choice than to make no choice at all. 

Well, that’s all from us this week…

If you haven’t already listened to our podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, we’re in a national lockdown,  what else are you going to do with your time?

Want some more Life During Covid content? Take a look at last week’s column.


Your College Aunts x

Have any worries?

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