I think it’s safe to say that this year was absolutely not the year anyone planned for. At the beginning of 2020, I had planned to take my A-level exams in the summer months and hopefully pass, before spending the holidays travelling before I left for uni. Instead, I spent five months at home, waiting for the government to give me my grades, so I could find out if I would be going to uni. Not really the ideal last year, but somehow we all made it through the boredom!
I set off to the University of Exeter at the start of September, which was really strange as I was going away so much earlier than all my friends. I was exceedingly nervous to meet my new flatmates, and I was also going to live in accommodation I had never even seen before. Despite all that, I made good friends with my flatmates quickly and had a lovely first week, although we didn’t have a ‘Freshers’ week. Starting my university course after six months of almost no study was quite a shock in the second week, but everyone soon settled down into a routine of study. However, this year was very strange at university as our courses were delivered with blended learning; a few in-person seminars and all of our lectures online via Microsoft Teams. It was quite a struggle to get to know the people on my course as we couldn’t meet in person, but we somehow managed to in the few practicals we had. My course, in particular, had very few contact hours and so I spent most of my time doing lots of reading, and watching lectures! Despite all of that, I have really enjoyed my course so far and I’m looking forward to my second term, where I will have the option to pick a few of the modules on offer.
The hardest challenge this term has been leaving home to live in a new area in a pandemic. I didn’t realise as I left that I would not be able to come home again until December, and so getting used to being so far from everyone was difficult. However, living in a shared flat like mine has been so useful, as you can really get to know your flatmates and enjoy spending time all together. I would also really recommend going self-catered at university. I wasn’t sure I would like being self-catered, as I thought fitting in the time to cook would be hard with the course, however, it is so nice to cook with flatmates in the kitchen, and go out for dinner together (obviously when we are not in a lockdown!).
The change from the sixth form to university has been very strange, however, I have absolutely loved being at university so far, and it has been a good time despite all the differences as a result of living during a pandemic.