I knew that this year would be different to any previous school year, so I wanted to make sure I was getting the most from my final year; Yet, it really hasn’t been different in a bad way at all! Our professors have been so wonderful about making sure they’re answering all our questions and helping us stay engaged, even thorough the computer and the sessions are recorded as well in case you’re in a different time zone. I actually found the Zoom academic support hours to be less scary than in person even, as you still have the time to have all your questions resolved, but not the pressure or scheduling concerns of going in person. I also found that the group of people I regularly saw was less than before; the time was more meaningful and memorable. I’d have evenings on campus, by the lakes, at the pub playing trivial pursuit, or at home with my flatmates making dinner.

One of the exciting things we’ve done so far is to have “Come Dine with Me” themed nights. We will all take turns making a nice dinner and using that time to refine our hosting skills and have a lovely evening catching up and trying out new and interesting dishes. On my night I decided to do something with the forgotten basil from the garden that needed to be cut back and made basil ricotta ravioli! We even made the pasta together from starch and it was so much easier than we imagine. It was literally just flour, oil and egg!

After the basil pasta-making adventure, I started paying even more attention to my garden and found some amazing deals on the local B&Q to fill up my accommodation with flowers from the clearance section. I even made a little indoor herb garden in my kitchen from the herbs I got at the grocery store so we can always have a fresh bunch of parsley, mint, or rosemary. There’s even a whole section as you come in Tesco of indoor plants like orchids and little cacti to spruce your door room windowsill.

A record playerI also embarked on a quest to support local small businesses and started exploring the town and found all these amazing deals at local grocers and thrift stores that I hadn’t even heard of before, much less been inside. On one such adventure, I found an Elvis record in the bargain bin, which inspired my room decor (along with the plants) and now I get to look forward to searching through all the little shops that sell old vinyl records whenever I’m in town.

Another activity I accidentally got into was walking. When I moved closer to campus and my bus pass expired, I found myself walking to town to save money or even to Greenstead to see my bubble. Then I noticed on days I didn’t go out that I started feeling restless and I found that I actually sleep better and feel more productive on days that I take a walk. Sometimes it is just a quick walk across the road or onto campus to see the ducks, but it never hurts to have a little excursion when you have to run an errand or when it is nice out. Plus, you can take a new route each time and find shortcuts. It’s also a wonderful way to stay connected with people you would normally see around or don’t see as much anymore since you can be outside and apart, but also be together and have those meaningful connections that are so hard to do over text.

A tree in Wivenhoe Park

Since lockdown, I obviously haven’t been able to go out into town as much; but we have had some great adventures as a house. We had our own Halloween party where we all dressed up, dessert and movie night, nachos and Mamma Mia, and we even learned how to make bread one day! While this term has been more unusual than others, it’s also been so great at helping to build meaningful friendships and also having the time to finally learn little life skills! Even though we all thought we’d learn a new language or get fit over the term, it’s the little victories like learning how to make nachos or watching a film with your housemates for the first time that count