It goes without saying that we were expecting a different start to the 2021 university year. But alas, the entire student body returned to (or were thrown into) online learning. First years were welcomed to university with overflowing Zoom lectures, and returning students were falling into old routines. We ask both new and returning students how this fourth lockdown affected their day-to-day life, and how this made them feel about their studies.
Jane*, 18, Health Science and Arts
“The lockdown this time around feels different. Given that I’m an Aucklander, it ain’t my first, or my second, or even my third rodeo. But even so, the feeling of suffocation from the four walls of my small bedroom still creeps in. Stale air tastes just the same. The bread trend is long gone. Just because we’ve had so many attempts to get used to this doesn’t mean we will ever be okay. Does anyone ever become familiar with spending too much time in their own thoughts?”
Emma*, 20, Law and Arts
“Navigating uni through lockdown in 2020 was a task in itself. I feel that learning remotely definitely affected my understanding of different concepts and ideas that were really important to nail down for Stage Three papers. That was something I’ve been kind of anxious about in returning to uni, which funnily enough hasn’t happened due to lockdown.
Mentally it’s actually kind of hard to keep a clear mind, even though arguably I have more time to reflect on things and chill, but it’s a work in progress and I guess it’s about understanding that there really is no timeline or deadline to life, only assignments.”
John*, 18, Arts
“The Level Three ‘lockdown’ didn’t come as a surprise to me, although I didn’t expect it this early on in my studies. As a recently eighteen-year-old fresh out of high school, I would say I was taken aback to find out the first week was online. After hearing the announcement of Level Three, I would say I did panic and stress. I much prefer talking face to face, however I can handle online meetings for a short while. I felt deserted and alone, coming from out of Auckland. I was also feeling a disconnect from my studies.”
Sonya*, 19, Arts
“What I want most as a second-year student is to have a normal experience at university, which is proving to be difficult. Being both neurodivergent and mentally ill, I deeply struggle to maintain a good work ethic when my environment is constantly changing. This lockdown has made me feel like I’m already falling behind, as I am overwhelmed by online learning and the lack of motivation that stems from my anxiety. While I am grateful for the resources given to me by the University, my procrastination has gotten worse due to the lack of confidence I have in my coursework.”
*Names have been changed.