Student Experiences of COVID-19 and 2020

24 November 2020

2020 has been an incredibly challenging and tumultuous year, from bushfires to COVID-19, everyone has dealt with real hardship and loss.  

Many of our students have adjusted to the new norm, from virtual and online academic learning environments to being unable to travel to see friends and family. While 2020 has presented its difficulties, some students have found the silver lining. 

The On Campus team sat down with a few students to talk about their experiences of COVID-19, 2020 and their positive takeaways from the year.  

Some found isolation and COVID-19 as a time to explore new interests and passions while also strengthening friendships.

Third year PPE student Jack reflected, "I discovered a passion for writing, I was just looking for something additional to do and surprisingly ended up writing a few articles for Medium,"

"It was also a time which brought my housemates much closer together, we had an awesome time. We'd study together, play sport together, get coffee together and just enjoy each other's company, it was a great time for the house to bond."

Distance from loved ones and border closures meant some developed a newfound gratitude for their families and close friends. As third-year PPE and Arts student Jemma explained. 

"I appreciate my family much more; it's been hard since the distance makes you feel like you're going through it alone. My grandfather in Queensland got really sick and I couldn't see my sisters in Melbourne, I haven't seen them in nine months and didn't appreciate how easy it was to see my family previously," 

"I also realised who my true friends were, it was a period for me to solidify that understanding and to know who was part of my support network. Some people I talked to everyday, others not at all."  

For Commence and Environmental Studies student Ariana, 2020 and COVID-19 was also a time of building resilience and was an opportunity to reflect and slow down.  

"Having time away from people really helped me to stop and reflect on my emotions and how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis. I overall feel happier than I did before," 

"I definitely became more resilient too. I underwent back surgery throughout isolation and everything else happening this year. I was away from friends and most of my family for the recovery period. I definitely became more resilient and found inner-strength in that time."  

For others, 2020 has seen new work opportunities, as third-year Law and Commerce student Dan explained. 

"Something completely unexpected, I got a job as a law clerk which is stimulating and engaging. I've never had a job that I was passionate about. It was pure luck really, without COVID I probably would have kept my old job in hospitality. I went from earning nothing to a full-time job." 

Amid the difficulties of 2020, they were all looking forward to 2021 with optimism. It's been a challenging time, but the lessons and experiences of 2020 won't go to waste for the new year. 

"I'm definitely going to prioritise family and traveling next year. I put it off last year, you have no idea what's going to happen next so if there's an opportunity to travel somewhere I'll take it up," Jemma said.