Life in the UK during lockdown: my experience as an international student

As we progressed into Spring, I think we all expected lockdown to come sooner or later. It was only a matter of time and during this period we could prepare for this situation as best as possible, both mentally and in terms of gathering necessities. I am an international student at the University of Derby, my home country is the Czech Republic. In the run-up to lockdown, my friends and I decided that on the last day before lockdown commenced that we would have a barbecue together to say goodbye to each other. We agreed that we would see each other properly after this difficult situation is over.

In order to support ourselves, some friends and I who stayed in the UK decided that we would be better to move in together rather than be apart. So now we do not feel that we’re all far from home. We are never bored, we always come up with something to do. For instance, we play some games, do challenges, or practice our cooking skills. Of course, we also do uni work and assignments. We have set a schedule where we study in the morning and then do fun things in the afternoon.

We don’t feel compelled to study together at the same time but we help to motivate each other this way. It even feels the same as when we used to go to the library together. Of course, we are all aware of the seriousness of this situation but we have to deal with it somehow and how that experience will be, depends on us. We can choose to live in fear and sorrow or we take something useful out of this quarantine, such as deepening friendships, or learning a new skill or a new language from friends in other countries. There is no better opportunity than now.

Of course, we all miss our families but it’s so easy to connect online with our relatives and see them on the camera that we can barely feel the difference of a few hundred miles. We support each other, and we keep in touch to find out how people are getting along.

As for uni, this situation was unexpected for everyone but all my tutors did their best so that we did not notice any change in the teaching approach, except, of course, that we do not attend the University campus for classes. The tutors remain in contact with us and whenever I have needed something, I have received immediate responses to my emails. All the tutors adapted very well to this situation and immediately informed us about the next steps: how everything would go and what changes awaited us.

When we were uncertain about our assignments, we simply arranged a one-to-one session, in which the tutor explained everything to us immediately and all questions were answered. Fortunately, all the teachers offered either skype calls or calls through Microsoft Teams, so it was basically like we had a normal session with the teacher.

All the lessons were set up online, and the teachers tried to teach us the same way as if we were sitting in the same room with them, on-campus. Seminars are taught through Microsoft Teams, where both my classmates and I were able to share the views and results of our assigned activities.

We have been offered a tremendous amount of support from our tutors, they have done everything they can to help us complete this semester without any problems and our assessments have gone as well as possible. I am grateful that our University has done everything it can to make students feel both supported and challenged.

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