Another college year is over and I’m once again staring down the barrel of the summer break. Except this time, it looks very different.
This side of a vaccine for Covid-19, everything I enjoy doing is off the menu. Festivals, nights out, a trip away and a summer job to keep it all ticking over have all been cancelled. Even where these things can still go ahead, social distancing means we all have to stay far apart and in our seats. So for now, I’m mostly staying at home with a book or anything else I can find on-screen to keep busy.
At first Zoom calls and quizzes online offered a stand-in for these social interactions. We’d all sit in front of our screens, can in hand, to take a quiz or just chat away about whatever developments were happening in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with social interaction through a screen, but after a while it all just stopped. Honestly, I can’t say I really miss it all that much either.
But it’s not all bad. Groningen is a home to me, but my family home in Ireland is fantastic, too. Myself and my father sat at the kitchen table recently listening to music, drinking, and sharing a laugh. We didn’t feel great that Sunday morning after the bottle of rum, and my mother and younger brother didn’t appreciate us keeping them awake either… but it was fine, we all get along.
Groningen is a home to me, but my family home in Ireland is fantastic, too
But for some students, their home is not necessarily a sanctuary, and many students will feel alienated and exiled at home and away from their lives in Groningen. For these people, the prospect of a long stay in their hometowns with little opportunity to find outlets to allow them to be themselves is an intimidating prospect.
The security and freedoms that attachment to the University of Groningen brings to so many of us cannot be easily sent down a screen. Most of us are understandably wary of the notion that technology can offer a real solution to the new pressures and anxieties that taking a course in the middle of a pandemic are causing. But we don’t really have an option until the pandemic clears.
Thankfully, while we will surely still be unavoidably limited after summer, the university has promised hybrid learning that will see many of us back on campus next year.
It can’t come quick enough.