COVID Stories

Catherine Barr, Journalism with Communication

   

It has been a time of adjustment for all. The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented chaos in our lives.

I’m lucky enough to live on a property in south Wiltshire with seven acres of land, a pool and some farm animals.

I never thought I’d say this, but I have taken up running. My boredom reached new levels when I decided that I would commit to shedding a few pounds and getting fitter. Alas, I haven’t quite managed to keep it up, but it’s a work in progress and I’ll be sure to keep it up once term is over!

Outside of athletic pursuits I’ve obviously been doing lots of work, and navigating my way through online classes. It’s been hard seeing people on a screen when I’m so used to seeing them in person, but I must take a moment to commend the University’s handling of the situation.

I’ve also been spending time with my family’s two dogs, Merlin the German shorthair pointer and Poppy the golden retriever. Neither of the dogs are used to having all of us around so much so it’s been an adjustment for them almost as much as it has been for us!

Then there’s the matter of spending all day, every day with my family. This is the most I have ever lived with my family - even when I was in school I was out for 8 hours a day. I think I miss my independence more than anything. Those long drives to and from uni, sun blazing and tunes blaring… I miss them more than I ever thought I would. I also miss Greggs more than I really should.

When lockdown is over, because it will be over soon, it will make all the things we miss now all the sweeter because we’ve been missing them so much throughout this period.

I hope everyone is safe and well. One thing that has been keeping me going through all of this is the knowledge that every day is a day closer to normality.



Rana Habib, Accounting and Finance

   

As the pandemic began to spread globally students were increasingly worried. Then lockdown started things that were once taken for granted like a walk to the shops, going for dinner at cafes and restaurants, popping in to see your friend across campus now seem like quaint things of the past. Busy campuses became quiet.

With the news of the spring term being moved online, and exams converted to online e-exams, I was surprised because it was something I was not used to.

Gradually as the new term began, our course leaders communicated well in advance how we could get in touch if we needed help. We were all reassured that their help would be continuously available, which was comforting. I can happily say that everything has fallen in place and I am getting accustomed to a routine where I feel motivated and ready to work.

What I do like about online teaching is that I have a good amount of additional time to go over my study material before online tutorials in the morning.

I have been trying my best to stay active and committed to my exercise and health with an hour and half workout daily. Photography is my favourite hobby so I have spent time going around the University campus to capture some great pictures of Spring weather and all of the colourful flowers.

Lastly, I’d like to say, try to remain positive and calm because after every difficult time comes times of happiness - that’s what life teaches us. Seeing the entire world so still right now, I feel we are seeing it at its most beautiful.

We were all running too fast. We needed this pause to reboot, to look within, to reflect, to understand something that we would never have paid attention to in the chaos. Nature is trying to teach us so much in this stillness.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. This includes your friends back home, as well as those in the UK and mental health services. Even though we must practise social distancing, it does not mean we must stop socialising with one another. If anything, this is so important for our well-being in these times of uncertainty. It is always better to know you are not alone and have places to turn with people who care about you.

Mia, Business and Management

   

Being at home in a small village in the middle of nowhere makes me realise how lively Buckingham is. Although you would think being close to London would be the complete opposite, my village is somewhere between rural countryside settlement and farmland with a population of 250. All this time to myself led me to read that in 1751, a witch hunt took place in my village, which began when an elderly couple were begging for money. After being turned away, the mutterings of the woman were mistaken for a curse and soon after a farmer fell ill. The couple were then believed to be a Wizard and a Witch. 

Unfortunately, 220 years later during my self-isolation daily dog walk, no such exciting activity appears to be happening in my village. In fact, I don’t believe I have seen a single person leaving their front door for a month besides the weekly clap for the NHS. 

Having so much spare time before and after lectures has pushed me to get up and try new things, be innovative and appreciate the fact that I may not have this much recreational time until retirement.

I have always been a creative person, but in recent years I haven’t had much time to draw a portrait, paint a landscape or develop a photograph. In the last month however, I have been able to throw myself into what I love doing whilst outside in the sunshine enjoying this beautiful Spring weather.  

I have also invested a lot of time into developing my culinary skills, so I don’t return to my Buckingham diet of peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Although it’s not much, baking cookies for the delivery men, postmen and the elderly in my village is my small way of contributing to the community and saying thank you to those who are still working through this global pandemic.

This free time has made me thankful as I have been able to focus on what I enjoy, instead of getting caught up with everyday life. Unfortunately, however, I am driving my family mad singing and recording covers of Whitney Houston and Adele when they are attempting to watch Netflix.

Being a part of Buckingham during Covid-19 as a second-year student is indeed socially challenging; missing out on the social aspect of seeing your friends every day and in some cases, where people are graduating, not for a long time. I have learned the importance of making an effort, making time to have group calls and hosting weekly games to keep everyone up to date.

Regarding this aspect, I am so thankful for how involved the University has been with its students, with our Students’ Union offering daily challenges and riddles to keep everyone entertained; our lecturers providing one-on-one calls purely to check up on students and their wellbeing, and the faculties working hard to ensure we all still gain the most out of our learning. I am sure I’m not the only person who is partially enjoying this online way of teaching. I’ve noticed that it allows students to understand a topic at their own pace, perhaps pausing the lecture to make a cup of tea, or fetching the dog to join your tutorial (Bentley my dog has probably been more productive than my parents over the last few weeks). 

Although this time is not ideal for anyone, Covid-19 has been an eye-opener. It's made me realise how grateful I am for the time I spend with my friends, boyfriend, family and lecturers, and I am very much looking forward to when we all get to see each other again.

And always remember, things could certainly be worse. You could be the Wizard and Witch from Wilstone in 1751.

 

Lottie, Medicine

   

Before I started at the University of Buckingham Medical School in 2018 I was a qualified Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology. I had been working at Northampton general hospital for a few years before I decided to change my career path.

Since leaving to pursue a career in medicine, I have been staying in touch with the lab and working some shifts in my weekends and holidays part-time. When the UK went into lockdown, I decided to offer up my molecular skills as it was an obvious opportunity to contribute to the cause.

With lots of hard work from the microbiology team we implemented in-house testing for inpatients last Wednesday, with a four-hour turnaround time, ensuring the needs of patients are met and appropriate isolation measures are implemented. Before this the patient samples were sent to external testing centres which took an average of 48 hours to receive a result.

I’m extremely proud to do my bit for the pandemic!

I look forward to using the skills I have learnt working under pressure within the NHS in the future when I’m a doctor.

 

Hasini, Medicine

   

My studies were moved to online learning on 16 March 2020. Gosh, I cannot even believe how long has passed by since then. I remember the day quite well. I was in a meeting when I got the news and I was shocked. I realised I needed to get some much-needed guidance on one of the modules I was struggling in, so I went to meet one of my lecturers to talk about a structure for my lessons and some help.

I went to the rest of the lectures held on campus that week simply to be with everyone as much as I could. My country’s borders were shut meaning I couldn't go back home so I made the decision to stay at my boyfriend’s place knowing I would go crazy if I isolated by myself.

At the start I was happy, and life seemed pretty good. My friends and I video called each other frequently. However, after that week I did start to struggle.

The first week of lectures was hard. I was getting distracted and I couldn't focus on my studies outside the assigned learning hours.

I know it is important to set a routine and to try to occupy myself with studies (and I appreciate that I won't get an opportunity like this again, where I am in control of my learning, and I am starting to like it). However, I have learned that it is important to listen to yourself and give yourself time, too.

When I feel down, I occupy myself with my new passion, baking. I have realised that baking is a great stress reliever. During the first week of lectures I baked almost every day.

In that week we also discovered a new visitor in the garden - a hedgehog. I fell in love with him after a couple of days and we ended up buying him cat food - the highlight of the day is seeing him arrive and begin nibbling away at the food I put out for him.

I am grateful for having studies to occupy myself and for having enough money to buy essentials. I am grateful for being able to talk to my brother and my mum every single day and I look forward to calling my brother as he is isolating by himself in halls, where all his friends have moved out.

In these difficult times, I know I am missing out on a lot, but I remain positive and am grateful for everything I have.

 

Venessa, International Studies with French

   

When the lockdown was first announced I was a bit panicky as I was afraid of “missing out on life”.

If you know me, you know I am an active person: I like keeping myself busy and engaged with several activities. Most of my friends laugh at the fact that whenever they see me on campus I am always running somewhere, might be to a lecture, might be to a student ambassador job, cheerleading or a society event. But little did I realise that when I was busy keeping myself busy, I was missing out on much more important things in life - my family and my loved ones.

With everything shut now, my whole family is at home and it’s good finally spending some quality time with them. It is not easy leaving at home with a sister of six years, and two brothers of respectively 10 years and 11 months. It’s sometimes hard to focus on work, because while you’re writing your paper someone could come in your room and ask you to go and do cartwheels in the garden! And if you have younger siblings you know how hard it is to say no to them.

Nonetheless it has been fun, refreshing and much needed.

Another thing I was afraid of, was the new way of teaching and learning. I am not a fan of technology and the idea of having to study online didn’t really entice me. But I have to say I am quite satisfied and happy about the way they are going on now. I still get to “see” my lecturers and have a conversation with my mates via video call.

Overall, this lockdown has been under certain aspects, a blessing in disguise. I am so grateful for the time I’m spending with family and the time I’m spending with myself. I have finally stopped from running around from one place to the another 24/7 and have been forced to breath and appreciate the little things.

 

Neth, Psychology

   

Living in Leicester for most of my life, I was quite tired of going to the same places all the time so when I went to Buckingham it was like a breath of fresh air. Being there was so relaxing.

But then in March, we went into lockdown. I had to find ways to keep myself occupied so I started exercising more and checking up on my friends through video calls to see how they were doing. This made me feel much happier.

I started investing some time into improving some skills like drawing and baking, finding them both extremely therapeutic. I also wanted to learn to cook proper meals so that when we finally started University again, I wouldn’t just be eating ramen and oven or microwaved foods.

I’m happy that I’ve managed to keep myself busy at home and I’m definitely learning how to be more patient.

In some ways I think that there has been some positive impacts caused by the virus such as helping the environment and allowing us to spend our time doing things we enjoy that we might not have done in a while.

It has definitely been an eye opener. I’ve realised how lucky I am to be safe and I can’t wait to see everyone again when the lockdown has been lifted.


Queen Nwanyibuaku Nwosu, LLB Law

   

Auspicious in every way, the year 2020 looked so promising for me. I had two goals: to conquer my fear of travelling, thanks to my friends, Zee, JM and Kenny, who had laboured since 2019 to convince me to travel a bit; to invest in myself and explore opportunities that would boost my career prospects – law clinic programme, legal placements, and a summer school in France.

Let me start with the travel goals. It was meant to be a Euro-American tour. Zee was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that I apply for a Schengen Visa (because I was passive), while JM had offered to drive to Paris and more, whenever I was ready. On the other hand, Kenny was already expecting me in the United States by Summer. So, it was meant to be so much fun. Boom! A new virus was in China! As a human, I was concerned about the health and wellbeing of the people affected in Wuhan, China and hoped for a cure soon. Slowly, it began to spread, and my concern became a worry.

My first reality check was in late February, when it appeared that the virus could impact my second goal. I am privileged to be on the Law Clinic Team of the Law School. We had just concluded our training course and our graduation ceremony was to be held in the Ondaatje Hall on the 6th of March 2020. By then, the virus was spreading rapidly and there was a concern about the possibility of a graduation ceremony for us, even though it was a small group of 10 outstanding students. Well, it was held, as we were not many. My worry grew when our supposed first official law clinic session was cancelled, and my street legal placement was suspended. I had secured a short placement through the Street Legal Placement platform of the Law School to shadow His Honour, Judge Sheridan of the Aylesbury Crown court. My hopes and expectations were high. On the 16th of March, I made my first appearance at the Aylesbury crown court. It was fascinating to watch court proceedings live and have an enlightening and inspiring session with Judge Sheridan in his office. I eagerly looked forward to the next one. On the 17th of March, my placement was suspended. Wow! At this point, it hit me that we were in for some big deal. With the rapid spread of the virus and closure of borders, our travel plan for the holiday in March/April was also cancelled.

‘Well, it wouldn’t last for long. The year has just started, and I can still do everything I want once it is all over’, I thought. But I was wrong. It was fascinating how quickly the University developed a contingency plan - teaching and learning were moved online for the Spring term. We were even charged to prepare for a possible online examination. Now, as the Spring term slowly winds up, we have adjusted to the virtual learning environment and are getting ready for an online examination. Needless to say, there have been ups and downs with this new development. While some students managed to travel back home to their families, many international students could not, for fear of contracting the virus from the airports and flights, getting caught up in border closures or for some other reasons. The pandemic, no doubt, has posed a threat to learning and productivity of students to some degree while forcing us to find our inspiration, motivation and strength from within. For some students, it is a good feeling to be on lockdown with their families. To many who live alone, it has hugely impacted their mental health. The good side to it is that the university offered students, who could not cope with the stress, the opportunity to pause their programmes for a while. To those who are brazing the storm, the pandemic has taught them to be resilient, strong and undeterred. It is a reflection of the real world outside the bubble (university), as life will not always follow your plans, so adjustment is key.

Although we do not know when it will be all over, one thing is sure, the world will not be the same again and we will all need time to adjust to the new way of life. Sadly, I was also due to attend an exchange programme in France for Summer school by the first week of July, but here we are today, in a full-blown pandemic. No one is talking about travel plans anymore. It seems like all the goals for 2020 have been reduced to survival. In the end, it sure feels like the universe has paused for a while to allow us to rediscover who we are, invest in ourselves, be intentional about our personal development, and to appreciate our families, friends and relationships.

Do I still have plans to travel? Of course, I do! No longer because my friends want me to, but because the COVID-19 pandemic has helped me realise how transient and fragile life is. For now, I have resolved to take advantage of technology to acquire more skills using online platforms. The pandemic is no excuse to stay unproductive!