“I’ve just been going with the flow, everything is always changing. You’ll get used to something, like for example at the start of lockdown everyone was at home, then everything started reopening and everything is getting bad again. So, you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to take each day as it is,” said Aleigha Reeves, 18.
Reeves, and Abdullahi Yussuf, 20, are part of Hackney’s youth parliament. Their roles see them work with the Mayor of Hackney, co-host important awards and interview people who work with youth (social workers etc).
Yussuf, 20, is studying Sociology and Anthropology at SOAS university, so at the moment is still in London, often travelling between his student accommodation in Bloomsbury and to his parents in East London. Reeves has made the big move from her parental home in Hackney, to Warwick University to study Sociology and Politics.
Reeves describes the move as not the easiest thing. She says: “There was a lack of information, we didn’t get our timetables, we didn’t know if we in person or if it was going to be all online. It was confusing, and it’s not the best way to try and settle in.” Despite the difficulties, Reeves is handling it well.
When asked if they feel if students are being supported by the government, there was a long thought-filled silence from them both. Finally, Yussuf says “No.”
Alongside moving in and starting university, students have to deal with the outbreaks in their halls.
Reeves says: “Everyone is getting it; a lot of people have been on Lockdown the past two weeks. It’s quite bad here”. Reeves is unfazed by the outbreak, perhaps because that is the reality of life right now for a student, especially one living in halls.
Another harsh reality for Yussuf and Reeves is that a lot of life right now is in front of a computer screen.
Yussuf (in his final year) says: “An average day right now for me is online. Some of my lectures are pre-recorded. So, for example, on Monday, because I usually have an 11 to 12 o’clock lecture, I kind of just get prepared for my lecture and do my readings. Also, because I have a note taker, I plan my week with my note taker.”
Yussuf pointed out how essays need to be planned in advance this term to fit around the virtual office hours. He says: “I feel like with this I have to be more independent than ever.”
“This wasn’t how I was expecting my final year to look, I was expecting everything to be on campus and live the experience of a final-year student. And knowing that this isn’t happening right now I had to adapt to that and tell myself like everything is going to be okay.”
Reeves, a fresher, adds: “I have a couple in person things but trying to keep motivated and get work done is not easy. You’re not getting up to go to your lecture, everything is on your laptop so it’s easier to leave for later on and then just get caught up with a bunch of work.”
Even societies, a pivotal part of the social life at university, are online. When asked if she’d been robbed of a university social life Reeves says: “Yeah, definitely, 100%.”
Regardless of this, Reeves wouldn’t have deferred. She says: “I didn’t want to postpone it any longer. Because who knows what’s going to happen. Covid could still be here next year.”
Reeves concludes: “I feel like I’m more excited to see what’s going to happen then worried. Like we’ve been living through the pandemic. No one wants to expect the worst. After the past six, seven months people want to hope for the best.”