Athena Lamnisos: 'It does not sit well with me'
Athena Lamnisos, from west London, has followed the chaotic university lockdowns with a mounting sense of dread. Her 20-year-old daughter, Ellie, is due to begin her third year at Nottingham Trent University, where she will live in a house with eight others, this week.
She worries that one of Ellie's housemates will host a party against her wishes, and thinks there is a reasonable chance that somebody in the house develops symptoms.
"It's a big house, there's a lot of variables," she says. "Many of them have got relationships, so sticking to the 'rule of six' is going to be challenging. If they do end up locked in a house for weeks, that's not great for their mental health.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if she'd gone back to university a couple of weeks ago, but it feels particularly harsh for us this week given what we saw in the weekend's news."
Most of the focus so far has been on university-owned halls of residence, but Ms Lamnisos fears a lockdown might actually be worse in a privately-rented house, where Ellie will have little help from the university.
Most worrying of all, she says, is the possibility that her daughter will not be allowed to come home at Christmas, adding: "It does not sit well with me."
Joe Wilson: 'In prison, you're allowed to go outside'
"It’s worse than prison," says Joe Wilson, 18, who is locked down in his student halls in Dundee. "In prison, you're allowed to go outside."
He is one of 500 students stuck inside Parker House, a private halls of residence, after one resident tested positive for coronavirus. They are subject to some of the strictest regulations in the UK.
Residents must stay in their rooms and not socialise even with their own households, according to Mr Wilson. They must use the shared kitchens one at a time and not go into the corridors outside their flats. Smokers are not permitted to go outside to smoke.
"The windows only open an inch or two so we have those open all the time because it's the only fresh air we can get," says Mr Wilson.
Even the laundry room is shut, so students have the choice of coughing up £15 for a private company to come and collect their dirty washing, or going without. "We are just wearing dirty clothes," Mr Wilson says.
He is not normally a particularly emotional person, but being alone and trapped in one room for so long has started to get to him.
Over the weekend, he dropped a basil plant he’s been growing on the floor. "I cried for no reason," he says. "I wasn't sad – I just want to go outside."
Harry Martin: 'It's not even half the university experience'
Harry Martin, 19, a University of Leeds medicinal chemistry undergraduate from Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, is stuck in his student flat, suffering coronavirus symptoms.
His five housemates all appear to have the virus too, having socialised last week with friends whose housemate later tested positive.
Now Mr Martin and his friends are a week into their self-isolation period and are slowly running out of supplies. His lectures are all online and the library is currently closed, making it harder for him to access the textbooks he needs. Instead he is using Perlego, an online textbook library, to access material.
"It's pretty gutting to think we're paying £9,000-plus a year for an online course," he says. "I could be sitting in my room at home. Most students are thinking the same thing, that it's ridiculous. We had our first online lecture today. We could be anywhere."
He feels relatively fortunate that, as a second year student, he has already made friends, but restrictions on socialising are still ruining university life.
"Leeds is becoming a high-risk area and separate flats and blocks can't socialise," he says. "From this week, you can't mix with other households. It's not even half the university experience."
Unsurprisingly, he is feeling gloomy about what his second year will hold. "I'm pretty fed up," he admits. "The online lectures are pretty [rubbish] ... You do miss the camaraderie of meeting mates after the lecture. It's just watching someone behind a video camera.
"It’s gutting to think these should be the best years of your life."
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