“I am a first year visually impaired student who is studying Law at De Montfort in Leicester. The whole summer had been a different build up to the one I expected due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that the world is currently experiencing. It all began when I finished my A Levels somewhat unexpectedly in March….”

“It was very strange when I was told by the government on Wednesday 17th March that I would not be sitting my A-Level exams, as I had spent the past 18 months learning the content. My last day at school was one of mixed emotions – some of us were happy that we did not have to sit our A-Levels but others were upset after putting in so much effort to receive offers from their preferred universities.

A key part of our last day was our leavers assembly where our head mistress and head of sixth form spoke to us about how proud they were and that they would do whatever it would take to ensure that we would receive the grades that we deserved.

At the end of the day, it finally seemed real that school was over when we were all saying goodbye. It was definitely not the ending that we had planned. I felt sad after such an enjoyable 18 months in sixth form and did not want it to end in the way it did.   

Off to University

Fast forward to Saturday 26th September, the day I moved into my halls of residence at De Montfort University in Leicester. Due to the pandemic, I had been told by my accommodation provider that I needed to book a move-in slot to ensure that everyone would be able to maintain social distancing guidelines. My move in slot was 2pm so I spent the morning packing my mum’s car; mum was helping me move, as only one person was allowed to help you move in.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to leave and say goodbye to my dad and younger sister. There was a mix of emotions as I said goodbye; I was happy to start my new adventure but sad at the same time – I’m used to seeing my parents and sister everyday!

As I drove to Leicester I became more excited – I felt ready to start my life at university. I arrived in Leicester with plenty of time to spare for my move-in slot. The campus seemed to be just as I remembered it from the open days that I had attended with my mum.

Halls of Residence

I was shown to my room and now had the mammoth task of moving all my stuff in, which is harder than you think when your block doesn’t have direct lift access!

I like my accommodation; it’s on the edge of campus and is a 5 to 10 minute walk into Leicester city centre. All the people that I saw in my accommodation on my move-in day were extremely helpful.

I spent the next couple of hours unpacking my stuff and then my mum took me for dinner before she left. It felt odd saying goodbye to my mum but I knew that it was part of the process of moving away to uni.  

Making friends

Over the course of the week, I got to know my four flatmates who are all first years, watched a livestream of the student union and have met some people on my course – all whilst following government guidelines. Everyone I have met is friendly and I feel like I am making friends.

My friends all have concerns about Covid and do not want to face the prospect of self-isolating in their uni rooms. They have mixed feelings about their uni experience as it’s not the one that they though they’d to have when they decided to go to uni.

Virtual Reality

In addition to Freshers Week being online, the induction for my course was also online, so for the first week, I had an online session every day. Ranging from introductions to my course leaders through to how to use the online library resources. It felt odd not having any face-to-face provision during my induction week as that’s how you normally meet new people.

All of my resources that I require for my course have been put online so I am able to access all of the resources that I may need from my computer.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first week at uni, even though it was completely different to what everyone expects when you start at university.

I’m curious to find out if I’ll have the same level of engagement from my module tutors now everything is online…but I am looking forward to starting my online and in-person seminars over the next week.”

Emily Tasker, LOOK Mentor.