Mahdi Babook, 17

Studying for his entrance exam, Tehran

Ruthless storm

News about the coronavirus in China was looking so far unimportant for us but I couldn’t imagine the world like this at all. Before the official news, many people were getting sick. In fact, the danger was actually so close and coming for the world like a storm.

My life as a high school student and someone who has an entrance exam can be really hard when there is an internet problem or server error for the classes. These problems can cancel all the classes in a day and these situations stress me out. Sometimes when we are bored with the class we say: I can’t hear anything, or, teacher your voice is not clear. And then some times he says: do you have my voice now? Then we answer: no!

Yee, we have some funny situations in online classes but if we were in school we could have more. Some people say that studying is really easy like this but it’s absolutely not.

In fact, understanding is really hard in online classes because you don’t have enough interaction and communication with the teacher.

Actually eighty percent of what I learned from the lessons is what I read in books.

But the online class has its own etiquette. Like when you’re in the class you must sit politely like when you’re in the real class.

You have to just look at the screen or your book and write whatever your teacher says or types, not just take a screen shot or look out of the window and play a video game!!

But I am talking about someone who can use a good device. Many people all around the world cannot have an online class or even the internet.

When I go out for a walk the atmosphere in the streets gives me a soulless feel. Streets, Amusement Parks… all of them are empty of life, movement, noise and I feel I’m living in a ghost town. But when you miss visiting your grandparents and friends for several months, you should understand the medical staff who have not seen their families for months. People took refuge in their homes with empathy and unity for human survival and love for each other, which certainly would not have been possible without hope.

So take care of your hope!

Kayleigh Cutforth, 35

English Literature with Creative Writing

University Centre Peterborough

Three minutes

I squint at the alarm clock which reads 6.30am – it hasn’t gone off in four years thanks to my daughter, who has taken it upon herself to be my living, breathing time piece. Still, I set it every night anyway. Just in case. She’s been awake for an hour already, which is the heavy price I pay for jostling her off to bed at 6.00pm every evening for a couple of hours of peace. I roll over and close my eyes; the longer we stay in bed the shorter the day is. At least that’s what I tell myself, I think I’m starting to believe my own lies. I hover between sleep and consciousness for another hour while being simultaneously serenaded by nursery rhymes and the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack.

Coffee. The only thing that can tempt me out of these warm sheets and into another day. I crawl out of bed and into the kitchen. Online lectures start at 10am. Between now and then I need to charge my laptop, my wireless earphones and my phone, squeeze in some phonics with my daughter and make myself look presentable (at least from the waist up). I plug everything in and step into the shower. The warm water makes me sleepier and I debate whether to turn the tap to cold. I’ve spent the last three weeks reading about the power of icy water and how cold showers are the key to becoming super-human. Now at the crucial moment I can’t bring myself to do it. Once dressed I have fifteen minutes to decide whether to dress my daughter or tidy the living room floor (just in case anyone happens to catch sight of it behind me). I tidy the living room floor and begin assembling the laptop and phone on the kitchen counter. The phone sits precariously on top of the biscuit tin propped up by the pen pot. Any sudden movements and the whole thing comes crashing down. Ten minutes to go. I realise I haven’t read the short story but if anyone needs to know the words to ‘A Very Hungry Caterpillar’, I’m your woman. I fill a Tupperware box with snacks for my daughter and place her out of sight in front of the TV. 10am.

I look over my shoulder and smile wondering how long it will be before I hear the word ‘Mummy’ and have to mute my mic. I’ve got my money on three minutes.

Nichola Stafford, 25

English Literature and Creative Writing

Northumbria University

All Work and No Play Makes This Student a Very Dull Girl

It wasn’t until winter arrived that I realised my transition into Jack Torrance was complete. Locked in, snow outside, deadlines looming and the thought of chasing my family around the house with an axe becoming ever more appealing.

But it didn’t start like that. Spring in Newcastle – the days finally getting longer and warmer. It was going to be my time to shine. I calculated how much money I was going to save, how much weight I was going to lose, which books I was going to read and how much writing I was going to get done. Of course, by about the third week, as seemingly every other person on social media perfected their banana breads or learned a new language, I felt like I was falling behind. The constant ‘Wetherspoons’ on my bank statement had been replaced with ‘Deliveroo,’ I’d gained about half a stone (thanks, Desserts Delivered), I’d only read approximately two chapters and written even less.

Luckily, that had only been a practice round. Lockdown 2.0 was going to be better; I could feel it. With spooky season right around the corner, my writing life burst into action. Again, it felt like my chance to shine. But this time we were playing by different rules; this time it was ‘safe’ for me to go to work. And, just like my safety, my writing took a back seat. So, as I stood practising latte art in takeaway drinks that no one would ever see, I couldn’t help but question whether coffee was an essential to society. Didn’t people have kettles at home?

By the third lockdown, I’d stopped trying. The Grinch had stolen Christmas and left a stocking filled to the brim with low expectations. No alarm, pyjamas all day and no routine whatsoever.

But that’s when the magic happened.

As soon as I took the pressure away, I started actually doing the things I’d set out to do, purely because I wanted to do them. I’d been treating lockdown like a competition and managed to put myself in last place. That’s not to say I’ve become some sort of lockdown sensation – I haven’t painted a masterpiece, I haven’t written a novel, and my dog hasn’t done anything remotely amusing on a Zoom call, but that’s okay.

This is a pandemic, just ‘being’ is enough.

Faye Tattershall, 20

Undergraduate Nursing Adult and Child MN

University of Southampton

Courage

September 2019: The year I’d been waiting for was here; little did I know what unprecedented times I was approaching.

The first months were spectacular; meeting friends, joining new clubs and exploring the city life, far from Bridport: the small countryside town. Life was great, everything I expected and more; I was finally a student nurse heading towards my first placement.

March: The second semester. My classmates and I waited for our seminar to start. Suddenly an email popped up on each of our phones; simultaneous ‘dings’ that mimicked both the rhythm and tone of an alarm. Starring down, all fixed on our phones: “the university to close, with immediate effect”, to flee home with the hope of one day returning. Despair filled us; our new lives were drastically to change – would it be for the best or worst?

June: Online learning, technical issues, and zoom. Moody adolescents tired of staring at computer screens, locked away from newly made friends. Online placement was the latest concept; robotic simulations and interventions for treating and caring for patients.

Pj days were the norm, waking up five minutes before the lecture with cameras off to disguise our sleepy eyes and Boris Johnson bed-hair. One was becoming accustomed to this new way of living. Lecturers were beginning to grasp online learning, and with it, students learning to live and work online.

Facetime calls and quizzes were rampant; we were learning to connect from all over the world, whenever needed, without life’s barriers; finance and English weather!

July: Summer’s sun rays filled our bedrooms and with it the news of reduced restrictions. Pubs to be opened with a ten o’clock curfew, groups of six could meet…life was going back to normal!

September 2020: Year two. Private accommodation with five of my best friends. Seminars were possible face to face, and soon my ‘Trauma and Orthopaedic’ placement would begin. I was to leave the safety of my student accommodation and the rats which lived in our attic, who frequently came down to greet us and our poorly prepared dinners – mask free!

I placed my nursing uniform on, staring blankly at my bedroom mirror. “Covid cases rising, deaths increasing, fears of new variants'” the radio echoed. I stood up straighter, lifted my head, and placed my mask on…

“You must be terrified” my housemates exclaimed. But I wasn’t… I was made for this!

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