Reflections of life at the University of Bath under lockdown. by Adebola, a Commonwealth scholar.

Living in University accommodation during lockdown.

Being my first time studying overseas, choosing my accommodation was one of the decisions I carefully made while embarking on my journey to the University of Bath for a master’s degree. I had planned how my stay and study in the UK would be, but obviously, I didn’t plan there would be a worldwide pandemic and I would be locked down in the beautiful city of Bath. I am Adebola, a postgraduate student from Nigeria studying MSc International Development.

Living in Pulteney Court before the lockdown

I currently live in Pulteney Court in the city of Bath, which is about 10-14 minutes’ walk to the city centre and bus station. I chose this accommodation because of its proximity to campus and the city centre. I wanted somewhere in the middle of these two important places to me. Pulteney Court was the best fit for me for what I wanted. I have been living here since September 2019, and I’ll be staying until the end of my studies.

My residence accommodates about 137 students, sharing single or mixed-sex flats of three to five people. My apartment is a shared flat, where I have three other flatmates from different countries (one of my highlights of living here). I share communal facilities with other residents in the accommodation that enhanced socialising and interaction between us. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose between staying home for serenity and being able to take short walks to the city centre whenever I wanted to.

Also, I enjoy the feeling of being secure. Every other night the security team would check on me and my flatmates. I see them walking around to ensure everything is safe. For me, this gave me a sense of security which I value so much.

Living in Pulteney Court during the lockdown

I do not think anyone could have planned that our daily lives would be invaded and changed so much by the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, life has to continue. One major concern I had at the onset of the lockdown was being away from my family at these uncertain times, also bearing in mind this is my first time outside of my country.

I was a little bit worried about how I could cope with being in an apartment for a long time with people I had known for no more than 6 months. I was also worried about my safety, given that staff may not be able to come around. The first two weeks of the lockdown were pretty normal for me, but as days, weeks, and months passed by, I needed to adjust to the new way of life that was demanded of us.

One major thing that has helped me in adjusting to this way of life is the support of my flatmates and from other residents in my accommodation hall. My flatmates and I created a chat group on WhatsApp where we were able to communicate with one another as we limit our face to face interactions. This was very helpful because with the chats and video calls, things seemed normal and I didn’t feel lonely. We played online card games, watch movies online, and encourage one another to read and follow study time. This helped me balance my day because I had people around. This experience wasn’t only limited to my flatmates, the hall also has a WhatsApp group chat where we interacted.

Another major support for me was from University accommodation. I was really thrilled on how swiftly they were able to adjust to the reality of the pandemic and how much support was provided to students. The security team was still available, this provided a sense of security even amid uncertainties. There was also adequate information on how to deal with how COVID-19 had affected our lives. I remember receiving several emails from the Accommodation Team providing information on how to keep active while isolated in accommodation. Also, some of the Accommodation Team came by my apartment to check on my flatmates and I (this meant a lot to me). All this reassured the community feeling I had always wanted from my accommodation experience. The University has also provided three free meals per day to students on campus during this time.

To keep active and exercise there is an online home workout platform initiated by the University Students’ Union. This platform provided workouts one can engage in within the confinement of his/her room. This was beneficial to me because I was able to exercise and enjoy the feeling of doing it with other people like it was before the lockdown.

I wouldn’t say I had it all rosy, there are days where I cried and felt deprived of my normal life, but the support I received from people helped me pull through. So even though the pandemic has changed a lot about our way of life, I am happy I was able to make the best of staying back in my accommodation.

The support I received from Accommodation Team, the friends I’ve made through online platforms, and the opportunity to help others made me realise how much we all need each other and how supporting one another makes lives better and easier, especially during an uncertain time. I have also learned that no matter our difference in colour, view, or where we come from, we all have something in common, that is to live, which to me is more important than our differences. The pandemic period helped me to appreciate the support around me that I might have overlooked before and the greatness in every little act of kindness we give. Another lesson I learned is to never underestimate the value of people around and don’t be shy to ask for help.

I will end this with one of my favourite quotes - “Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends’’. This is what I have experienced in Pulteney Court and Bath in general.