The Wokingham Paper

Life in lockdown: University students face new world of study

Will Berrisford

A FORMER Maiden Erlegh School student is seeing the silver lining of life at his university, despite an outbreak of Covid-19 there.

Will Berrisford, 19, of Earley is in his second year studying computer science at Swansea University. On Sunday the city and surrounding area were put under lockdown.

Many students have been finding life back at universities hard.

“I have in some ways much the opposite experience,” said Will.

“This year I’m sharing a house which improves things. There are two other people here. Another is locked down at home and another is shielding at home.

“Last year I was [in halls] on a floor with 19 other people. They would find it pretty difficult, with the chances increasing of being in touch with someone who had Covid.”

Fortunately Will is not having to self-isolate.

On four days a week he has online lectures. His first “labs” computer session face to face with a lecturer is tomorrow (Friday). There will be just 20 students, instead of at least 60 usually.

“It all sounds okay for me,” said Will. “It’s certainly going to be a different experience. It will be harder and more difficult than being there in person all the time. Due to the course most of it is done on computers anyway.

“The online lectures are more interactive – with the chance to type up a ‘chat’ comment. You can ask questions as you go along. When we had up to 260 people at lectures only five or ten asked questions. Now more people feel they can, it’s more interactive.“

On the all important social side Will said: “We’re quite lucky. Under the Welsh rules you can have 30 people together outside if they social distance.

“Swansea has a beach five minutes from the main student area. I can meet my friends there with plenty of space for social distancing.”

Will did say that not everyone did distance. No socialising is allowed indoors beyond a household.

“I don’t worry about catching the virus myself. But I do worry about being asymptomatic and giving the virus to someone who is vulnerable. I try to be responsible,” he added.

“Once all of this is over there are definitely going to be some enormous parties.”

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