Since the beginning of the year COVID 19 has disrupted universities across the globe and reshaped the outlook for first and now second semester.

Outside Oscar’s Café a security guard ensures people are sat 1.5 meters apart as life returns on campus. Only weeks before, the University grounds had been nearly empty.

I had been living in Taiwan with an internship in Fiji two weeks away. Within a few days I was back in Australia and trapped in a room for 14 days.

There is no denying my disappointment, a feeling I am sure is shared among many students.

We are UC sign
The bustling campus we remembered became empty and devoid of life. Source: Ebony Heins

Aside from studying, university is supposed to be a chance for freedom, having fun and making life long friendships. Instead many of us are grieving over crushed aspirations, lost jobs and changes to our degrees.

Rory, a UC journalism student, lived on campus and worked at The Well. He experienced and observed the impact of COVID 19 at the University first hand.

Both Rory and I discussed how grateful we are to have support from family and friends. We can’t imagine what other people in less fortunate circumstances were going through in comparison. But even in our situations, feelings of loneliness and loss over the changes in our lives did occasionally surface.

Read more: Mental health in the midst of COVID-19

“Before COVID I was working four or five days a week at The Well… There was much more of a friendly feeling,” Rory said.

“Once the virus hit I went from doing all that (work) to the only thing we really could do, focus on Uni work.”

Rory said that the once vibrant and lively common areas became empty as soon as restrictions were put in place.

“I wasn’t able to spend those times when you would expect to be with a lot of people. That was when it really hit that this was a big thing.”

Instead of being surrounded by friends and family during Easter and for his 23rd birthday, Rory celebrated in isolation.

Rory and I are just two out of thousands of students feeling the impact of COVID-19.

Girl sitting in room
Some student’s felt isolated and struggled to cope during the pandemic. Source: GoDaddy

We have both heard from different students about losing motivation in their studies and the struggle paying rent.

But amidst the hardships, one of the positive messages to come out of COVID 19 was the support from the community. Whether it be from food packages or a simple text message to check up on each other.

Rory said that over the months on campus, “everyone was going through the same thing. They were messaging, facetiming and zoom calling. Everyone was in it together which made it easier.”

COVID 19 may have impacted our lives, but if we are to try and take something from it, it’s that it has enabled us to reflect on what we value.

Rory summarised that even though there are negatives, think about what an interesting story surviving the pandemic will make one day.

If you or someone you know is struggling, have a look at the support services linked below.

UC Medical and Counselling

Beyond Blue

Black Dog Institute

Life Line Australia


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