I remember visiting Stirling University, Scotland, during PG Open Day in 2018. Students with families eagerly gathering information, same as me, partaking in campus tours, talking with lecturers, and imagining how life at this university would be like. The beautiful campus nestled in nature with mountains as a backdrop made me excited to envision my own prospective time at Stirling. One of the things the school was very proud of was the construction of the gym and swimming pool – Stirling is known for its excellent sports programme and people train for the Olympics here – and I thought how cool it would be to have brand new and modern sports facilities. As someone who isn’t a regular fitness studio-goer this I thought would motivate me to exercise more frequently.
I was working on my UG dissertation when COVID started to show its impact in Germany. That was back in Spring 2019. Throughout that year, I felt more and more worried about my future study plans – travelling to Scotland, attending lectures, meeting new people etc. – but I hoped for the best and continued to apply for the programme starting in Autumn 2020. Now, I have to be honest. My family was rather concerned when I told them I still wanted to live in student accommodation and not because they would want to continue having me home, but because of loneliness on my part. The thing was we couldn’t know to what extent the pandemic would restrain my experiences at university, especially in regard to student housing. I had heard stories on the news about students not being able to leave their residences or not being able to meet other students since many students would rather stay at home or somewhere completely different than choosing a university whose campus is practically empty and where lectures only happened online.
With this mixture of apprehension, nervousness, and excitement I embarked on this new aspect of my life and am now in the final stage of my PG (*knock on wood*!!) I can say that I have had a pretty good time here.
Yes, classes were online only.
Yes, most of the students on my course I haven’t met, not even online.
Yes, the clubs and societies I wanted to join or at least have a look at didn’t happen.
Yes, I have only joined the gym last month and frankly, I could expand on the things which didn’t happen, but I don’t want to be negative.
Contrary to my fears of living alone and having barely any interaction with other students, I have come to love my accommodation and the people who reside there. Now it feels like a community, like a family, and I’m thankful for having met these amazing people. Due to the restrictions, we were forced to entertain ourselves from Autumn to Spring 2021. We spent more time with each other by having movie nights, girls’ nights, cooking together, playing cards … We had to make the best out of our situation and I’m rather chuffed with all the memories I have created with them, which make me miss my family less than if I hadn’t had my new friends.
The year has flown by and I’m both excited and nervous to see how life will turn out as a ‘proper’ adult. Scary thought! I can imagine not every student had a similar good experience as I’m having, but I’m really glad I didn’t decide to stay with family and that I took the plunge into the unknown.
Image courtesy of Dom Fou