Congratulations! You survived the studying and the exams and made it to the University of Leeds!
But instead of feeling excited at starting your university life, you may be feeling deflated because, thanks to coronavirus, your fun-filled freshers could be a disaster! How are you going to socialise and meet friends with imposed social distancing, cancelled events and online learning?
But don’t let Covid get you down. There are plenty of ways you can still have socialise safely!
1) Make an effort with your new household bubble!
My first advice for making friends at university is to get to know your flatmates. Your new household bubble are likely the people you’re going to interact with the most during this year, so don’t be shy to get to know them!
Wondering how to break the ice with your flatmates?
Why not try the AT HOME OTLEY RUN?
A tradition to the Leeds freshers experience is the famous Otley Run. Packing the streets between Headingly and Woodhouse Lane, students pub crawl the night away until they reach the epitome of a first year’s night out- Fruity Friday! But while the Otley Run in all its glory might be off the cards for now, doesn’t mean you need to miss out on all the fun!
If you can’t go to the Otley Run, then bring the Otley run to you!
Get each person to deck their room out as a makeshift pub by supplying their favourite tunes, snacks, party games and drinks (alcohol-free choices included). Then, make your way down each room, letting the “host” introduce themselves a bit more! Finally, dance the night away in the communal spaces by tuning into the good vibes of a live-streamed fruity Friday. Don’t forget to dress up though, it isn’t a real Otley run without the costumes!
2) Although your lectures might not be in person, still make an effort to get to know the people on your course
When I was a fresher last year, coronavirus hadn’t even been mentioned on TV yet but virtual aspects of socialising were still a big part of how I made friends at uni. I went onto Facebook and asked on a “Leeds Uni students 2019/20” group whether anyone was doing my course and to my surprise, there were many people who wanted to connect and start a group chat. This is a great way to meet people even if you can’t see them in person!
3) Still join a society
Many societies have made the decision to turn virtual during the first semester, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join. Societies are a great way to meet people with similar interests so, don’t let the virtual aspect put you off!
Something important to remember right now is that so long as you follow the government guidance, you CAN still have a relatively normal first year. Socialising IS allowed, socially distanced, so don’t let the ‘Rona’ make you feel like you have to isolate in your room the whole year.
Social distancing is important but so is your mental health. Loneliness can be crippling and it is much more common than you think: higher education group Wohnke reported that a third of students admitted to feeling loneliness on a weekly basis even before the pandemic began.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or lonely at any point, remember that you can get support from the student-run Nightline which operates from 8pm-2am every night during term time. Here’s the number just in case: 0113380285
Wishing you all the best of luck!
Header Image Credit: The New York Times