The Staggering Optimism of Students

It’s a turbulent time for everyone, none more so than for the thousands of students currently studying at our city’s university who are nowhere near our city.

Most students have gone back home, wherever home might be. It could be abroad, or hundreds of miles down the road to the coastal parts of our country, but they’re still part of this broken and haphazard group we call the student body. As a university student myself, this year has been the most difficult so far, completing all our lectures, seminars and assignments from the dining room table whilst the rest of your family bustle around you and try and find the small piece of normality they still have left.

It’s been hard to remain positive for many, with social interaction with other students confined to a fortnightly Zoom quiz and Netflix party. It’s been a shock to the system and a change that many weren’t prepared for. But there are a few ways that students are keeping their spirits high during these unprecedented times.

Olivia Stock, 21, an English student at the University of Nottingham, has found refuge in her extracurricular opportunities that have found a way to continue throughout the pandemic.

She said: “Student media has been a lifeline for me during the pandemic. When things were unsettled, it offered a real sense of purpose and constancy. Having the time to indulge in creative projects has been brilliant and for students who often feel anxious or overwhelmed by small-group study sessions, the online learning environment has made for a more comfortable and reassuring experience.”

Olivia also noted how moving back in with her parents helped prepare her for her life after she finishes university as she fully expects to have to live with them for a while again whilst searching for a job.

She added: “For me, living at home for periods of time during the pandemic has helped eliminate that irrational student fear about moving back in with parents post-graduating. I think there’s a real stigma about not walking straight into a job after university, so the pandemic has really shown me that it isn’t all bad!”

“This third lockdown has been particularly tough, being stuck inside all day during the winter months can be really tolling at times.”

Lewis Tibbs, 22, a Broadcast Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University also admitted that he has found it more difficult to concentrate during the current lockdown but has found small ways to stay motivated.

He said: “This third lockdown has been particularly tough, being stuck inside all day during the winter months can be really tolling at times. But there has been a lot of positivity to come out of it as well. I’ve used lockdown to recuperate and refocus and to really think about what I want to achieve and what I want to do with my life. I’ve thrown myself into my work and tried my best to prepare myself for my life post-graduation. It’s given me a purpose every day and something to wake up for.”

Lewis also added that the changes to his university degree have been significant, but he managed to find the positives in those as well.

He admitted: “University isn’t the same in the slightest, of course, it isn’t how I expected to be finishing my degree at all, but the staff work really hard to provide a good quality learning experience, so it’s been okay. I try and talk to my friends as much as possible because it does help. Despite the obvious challenges, I’m doing good.”

Lilith Hudson, 22, an English and Philosophy student at the University of Nottingham, has also found these last few months more difficult than previous lockdowns. However, she has found spending time outdoors as the key to keeping her spirits high.

She said: “There’s no denying that the last few months have been a struggle. Life has become routinely boring in the absence of any spontaneity. As a final year student, it’s easy to think that because there’s nothing better to do you should spend your time studying, but this approach won’t do you or your grades any favours.”

“As contrived as it may be, I’ve been trying to spice up drab days with impromptu jaunts; mid-mornings spent meandering along the Trent and afternoons plodding along the canal. When exercise doesn’t appeal, I do some impulsive baking or randomly call a friend. It’s the little things like this that help you to find something positive every day.”

She added: “The faint possibility that I’ll actually have a graduation was the motive I needed to keep me going, so I’m holding onto hope!”

FP