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Student life

Portsmouth University student shares 2020 uni experience

First published: 15/12/20

Please note, this guest post was written and submitted before the announcement of a 2nd UK lockdown. You should always check the government website for up to date guidance and information.

My name is Sian and I am a second-year psychology student at the University of Portsmouth. Originally, I am from Kent, however I decided to take the leap and move away, expecting the traditional university experience in September 2019. As you can imagine, six months later, this really didn’t go to plan for most students across the UK!

As well as being a student at the University of Portsmouth, I am also a Student Ambassador. This means I represent the university and engage in outreach activities to promote not only Portsmouth, but university in general. This can include campus tours, student panels, presentations and much more.


What has university looked like during coronavirus?

As a psychology student, we are taught mostly through lectures, tutorials and seminars. However, most of the course so far has been taught via Zoom. Although there has been a good standard of teaching, staying at home all day and being stuck inside your bedroom with no interaction just isn’t the same. We have had very minimal face-to-face teaching; however, not as we knew it before. Masks, temperature checks, social distancing all combined to collate an extremely new and unfathomable learning experience.

How is coronavirus affecting student life and online learning?

The 2020/21 academic year has been immensely different to anything any student has experienced before. However, this new experience comes with some downsides. The main problems this year have to be loneliness and boredom. Although sometimes it is nice not to have to get up early and out the door for those 9am lectures, being stuck solely in your bedroom is extremely isolating.

Furthermore, online learning can be hard at times when there is no direct communication between students and the lecturers, and sometimes it can take a while to get responses on issues we are facing.

Despite this, online learning isn’t all bad! Recorded lectures mean I can go at my own pace, and properly digest what the lecturer is saying. This has been extremely beneficial to my learning, as I feel as though it gives me the time to understand content in more depth! In the current climate, although the university has taken measurers to keep students as safe as possible, being able to study from my flat makes me feel so much safer.


Sian’s working from home study setup

How easy has it been to remain social at uni during coronavirus?

A main aspect of university, socialising, has also been put on pause this academic year. I decided to live in a studio for my second year, however I am unable to socialise with a lot of my friends in the building due to restrictions, such as self-isolation or lack of open social spaces.

Although we can go out until 10pm, following the rule-of-six, university life is not as we know it. The lack of society socials and not being able to meet friends on campus has been really different this year, something that a lot of students, like myself, have noticed. I am fortunate enough to be able to keep in contact with my family back at home via technology, and they always welcome me with arms-open whenever I am able to come home.


One of Sian’s favourite places to get some fresh air: Portsmouth Beach

How has technology helped you during the pandemic?

A main aspect of the ‘new’ university lifestyle is being reliant on technology. Having a reliable Wi-Fi connection is not something everyone has access to, as well as the other technology we are required to have. Online learning has given me the confidence to explore and get to know my gadgets further, considering I am using them almost all the time.

I am completely reliant on my MacBook for many aspects of university life this term. Whether that be lectures, online exams, speaking to my friends or communicating with my course mates, I am using technology almost non-stop as a source of much wanted ‘normal’ life.


Sian’s university accommodation

What has helped you cope as a uni student during the pandemic?

I have recently started using various coping strategies which I think would help other students. As we know, learning is currently online and students are expected to be independent, however, there are plenty of opportunities to procrastinate, such as avoiding uni work and watching TV instead.

I find keeping a routine extremely beneficial for my mental health, getting up at a reasonable time and treating the week days as a working day, whether I have online lectures or not. This keeps me on track, but also stops me procrastinating.

Keeping in contact with friends from university and from home, as well as family is something that is really important to me. Talking to people about my day, and how I feel is also something that allows me to cope with the current circumstances.


Author’s details

Sian Spain
Psychology Student & Student Ambassador @ University of Portsmouth
Instagram: @sianspain


Protecting your gadgets at uni

If, like Sian, you’ve become heavily reliant on your gadgets this year, insuring them with student gadget insurance will help make sure that should anything unexpected happen, the cost is covered.

So if your laptop is stolen and you need to attend online lectures, or you break your phone and need to stay in touch with family, you won’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds in replacement.

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