Manchester students on what they’ve learnt over a year of lockdown

‘It was definitely a time of re-evaluating my principles’


It’s been over a year of lockdown and the end is now in sight. It’s been a tough year for Manchester students, whose mental health has suffered, and despite being able to go back to uni on 17th May, by then the university year will pretty much be over.

Having faced the mental health strain of covid, financial pressures, lack of university support and a whole year of teaching over Zoom The Manchester Tab spoke with Manny students about their experiences of the past year:

‘I was stuck in my accommodation for three months’

Natalia, originally from Peru, missed her chance to leave the country and ended up being stuck in Fallowfield.  She told The Manchester Tab: “I missed the small window to travel back, and then there were only limited charter flights. After a few days, my accommodation had emptied. I went from constantly surrounded to living almost completely alone in a matter of days. I was stuck in my accommodation for about three months.”

It’s not all bad though. “I was lucky because I had friends who also stayed behind! First lockdown would have been really difficult for me if I’d been alone. We had some great times. And I still feel extremely lucky and grateful to have had a secure place to live over lockdown, when it was such an uncertain time for a lot of people.”

Sadly since Christmas Natalia has had the opposite problem, stuck in Peru and unable to return to Manchester.

‘I learnt how to take better care of myself’

Credit: Klara Leszczak

Credit: Klara Leszczak

Klara managed to still have nice experiences over the summer. “In my view I was very privileged during that year, because I was able to go back home, and lockdown in Poland was not as hard as in the UK, I think. I found new passions, hung out with friends, picked up a new language and became more socially aware.”

Yet, like all of us, she had tougher experiences over lockdown too. “Online learning burnt me out pretty quickly. It was a really hard time for me mentally, like most of my friends. It was definitely a time of re-evaluating my principles, being more appreciative of my loved ones, and learning how to take better care of myself.”

‘I liked the naive part of myself, I miss it’

Teo told the Manc Tab: “Exactly one year ago I said goodbye to probably the only person I truly loved. 24th March was the last time I kissed him through a surgical mask at the airport. It was so painful I couldn’t even say goodbye. A year later, I’m staring out of the same window thinking about the same nightmare again.”

Teo’s finding it hard back in Manchester: “Things have changed, other people came into my life, I try to make my life interesting and forget, but I’m scared. And I see the same suffering and pain into my friends’ eyes. We all smile though and try to convince ourselves that we are fortunate and privileged. But we all know it’s a lie, and we could all use some therapy.”

She reflects sadly on the effects of the pandemic. “That day when I flew back to my country, I became an adult, and I think it was too early for that. I liked the naive part of myself, I miss it.”

‘The summer in lockdown is a blur in my memory’

Credit: Zsa Zsa Scior-Lewis

The last two nights in Manchester with my friends became so special to me over the next six months. We got drunk, did Kahoot quizzes, made 3am tattoo plans (that we followed through with), watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, and hugged goodbye.

The six months in lockdown are a blur in my memory now. I remember cycling around an empty London, banging on pots on Thursday nights, and group Zooms with my friends. I got annoyed at my parents’ Zoom-voices and saw my Grandmother crumble away in another country. Mostly I just wrote, watched TV, and tried to stay sane. I had a lot of emotional repression and anxiety, but also some amazing moments. The whole time, Manchester was the light at the end of the tunnel. Although it was harder than I expected when I came back, now I’m in a better place and can’t wait for lockdown to end.

Whilst all Manchester students have faced different battles amid this pandemic, we are united in all looking forward to the easing of restrictions. I don’t think any of us will look at going for a picnic in Platt’s, dancing in 42’s  or even just getting a drink at Hatch in the same way again. This year has been a lot but there is now light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel.

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