For rhyming purposes, I may have bent the truth. I’m actually 21 years old and in my third year of university – this isn’t my final year, as I was lucky enough to do an intercalated study abroad year in Australia.
I was recalled from Australia five days ago now. All of us were gutted. We should have been so excited to come home, and yet we felt devastated. I was, fortunately, less devastated than most, as I had actually not been back to the UK since coming to Australia in July; the majority had gone back at some point. Nevertheless, I had great plans for my last three months in Australia; places to go, people to visit, things to see. I had joined the gym, tried out for my uni’s world-class hip-hop team, and joined a new hall of residence. New friends I had just made I had to say goodbye to (not to mention trying to organise flights, a refund from my residential halls, as well as my newly purchased gym membership and my overseas health insurance in a matter of hours).
Yet, I can’t help but feel lucky. I’m safe and well and the rest of my peers are, mostly, in their last year at university here at home. They have had to go through so much hard work (and have so much left to do) without the big finish. No final term, no graduation, no balls, no final nights out, no big send-offs, or last goodbyes. No final sports matches, or competitions, or society handovers. Everything their whole university careers have led up to has been taken away from them, and it is time they will never get back. They will now never, ever be able to experience these things. And my heart aches for them.
And yet, apart from the initial disappointment, I receive nothing but positive messages from them in these times. Though all of them are so stressed regarding their final exams, each and every one of them has managed to find some sort of silver lining. Many have taken up yoga, or various arts; for example, painting. Though I know a lot who are parts of competitive sports teams, none of them have really been properly outside, in the way they are now, in years. They are all going on many ‘dog walks’, even if they have no dog, and are saying how beautiful nature is, how calming, how stress-relieving, how good for the body and the mind. There is a lot of pressure to take this time to do something, but many of them are enjoying finally doing nothing after juggling job-hunting, degree work, society roles, and of course going out and socialising (after being told that this is the last year they can properly enjoy themselves before real life kicks in).
I know younger young-adults are the same. Those who have worked so hard for GCSEs and A-Levels to have them ripped away from them. All that work? For nothing? How will universities accept them now? Will they go from their predicted grades, or their mock results? Or a combination of both? Isn’t either of these unfair if it doesn’t represent an individual’s true potential? Through so much uncertainty, they are enjoying their Netflix-binging, their time to hone sports skills, get fitter and stronger, reconnecting with family.
And though all age-groups are enjoying the wonderful outdoors (who would have thought, in Britain, when it’s March and it’s ten degrees?), the power of the internet, as always, prevails. Though usually social media can be the force of much evil, and detoxes are constantly recommended, during this time of potential loneliness it really does connect people more than ever. Various challenges are circulating Instagram (#gamefacechallenge, #babyfacechallenge, photos you love/a photo of you smiling to spread positivity, a photo of “just you” to raise awareness for male suicide prevention, and so on), and the app Houseparty, which many people can facetime on at once, has never had so many downloads and so much use. Staying at home has never been so social.
I do not wish for this to have happened in the slightest. The detrimental effects of the coronavirus, COVID-19, are awful beyond words, and will stay with us for many years to come. However, just looking around at the response of my generation to this most unfortunate historic event, I can’t help but believe that the world will be a better place once all this is over.