Things you’ll only remember if you were a Covid-19 fresher in Notts
Calling it a unique freshers experience didn’t make it better
Whipped coffee, TikTok dances and a daily walk – Easter 2020 was a strange time to be alive. March 13th marked three years since the first national lockdown in the UK despite the fact that it feels like yesterday I was doing a diamond painting in my living room watching the daily briefings.
Say what you will about the many lockdowns but the first official lockdown will always hold a special place in my heart. Despite everything, the whole country came together to help each other and on the other hand it was the most stressful time of my academic career to date. I’m sure you can relate to the many evenings spent googling the infection rate in the hopes you could actually start uni in September.
I’m sure we can all relate to what the crazy rollercoaster of freshers during 2020 was after finally getting the go ahead to move into halls. From the constant testing to making invaluable friendships these are all the things you’ll be able to relate to if you were a fresher during 2020:
The first thing all 2020 freshers will tell you about is the dreaded algorithm that decided your A-level results. When government ministers came up with what was supposedly a super fair and airtight algorithm to give us our grades, it ended with students not achieving what they needed for university places. Results Day 2020 was absolutely chaos and you literally could not get through to UCAS, if you did manage you’d probably not end up with what you were hoping for. After significant public outcry, we all got given our teacher predicted grades.
However, it was all too little too late with spaces filled in unis and gap years already begun. But for those of us lucky enough to secure a place, it was about to be the weirdest freshers ever
Living in halls
First things first was buying everything needed to survive hours away from home which was all made 10 times more difficult by the fact you had to queue two hours to get into an IKEA. Combine that with the whole only one person from a household policy and you needed up carrying your body weight in Tupperware and kitchen utensils.
Staggered move in meant if you moved in early you were one of approximately three people in your hall at the time. For those of us in flats, you had better bond with your flatmates because you were quite literally not allowed to see anyone else. Students who lived in catered accommodation had meal times and specific seating charts to deal with.
Fresher’s Fair and care packages
At least we did have a Fresher’s Fair, but let me tell you, it did not live up to my hopes and dreams. I went with one of my now best friends but at the time she was just a girl I’d known for a day. I think we were both expecting to come away with a load of freebies but honestly we would’ve settled with a couple of pens. But alas it wasn’t meant to be. There were maybe four stalls and all we got was a slice of a Domino’s margerita.
In what I can only assume was an attempt to make us all feel better about ourselves, every few months we’d wake up to a lovely brown bag at the door full of goodies ranging from a pot noodle to a travel size toothpaste to Voxi sims we were never going to use. We also got vouchers for places we couldn’t go to because Nottingham was essentially in another lockdown.
Whoop whoop it’s the sound of security
Imagine, you’d manage to scrape together a few friends by the first week and you just want to sit with them to actually get to know them. Which was just out of the question unless they were in your official “household”. A few people did get Fresher’s events tickets which were basically six people sat around a table at BierKeller and being told off for standing up. The rest of us just made did with what we had. For me it was the courtyard and JCR in Newark Hall.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Every day it would be something else you never would’ve expected but one thing that was always constant – security were going to shut it down. Someone will have turned on some strobe lights and be blasting music only for security to come in, turn the lights on and kick you out. We’d all promptly put our masks back on and walk out with our heads hanging only to return five minutes later. In the words of Rihanna, please don’t stop the music.
Testing to see family
In October 2020, we had our first drive of Covid testing. Spitting in a tube so that someone could test my saliva has to be one of the most dehumanising experiences to date but hey, what can you do. We were trying to be good citizens. Then all my friends tested positive on my birthday except me. Like maybe if I was in it with them it wouldn’t sting so much but the universe really said absolutely not.
Anyway, roll on Christmas and we weren’t allowed to go home unless we tested negative. Never in my life did I think I would have to do a test to see my own parents but 2020 was a new time and not one I was enjoying let me tell you that. Maybe if I’d have known I wouldn’t be back until May, I wouldn’t have been so desperate to leave and get my vaccine.
Literally the only thing I have to thank Covid for is my uni friends. We couldn’t go anywhere so you spent all your time with the people you met a couple days ago. There’s nothing like a little shared trauma to bond a group of friends.
Unlike a typical freshers year, the people you met in Fresher’s Week generally did stay your friends because you couldn’t meet anyone else. I’m still super close with the group that I met in my Fresher’s Week – we even lived together in second year. When you have nowhere to go and nothing to do you really get to know people and I am very grateful for the ones I met.