Pandemic life: "the silence I once longed for is now deafening"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

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"Student halls, no matter what university you can think of, are notorious for their noisiness and mess. Whether it is speakers on full volume at 3:00am or mountains of dirty plates in the washing-up bowl, it is a fair assumption that when heading off to university for your first year you’re likely to face a number of hurdles when living with hundreds of young people. This was something that I had particularly dreaded when anticipating my time in student accommodation. As somebody who values my sleep and cleanliness, the idea of enduring this for a year was not something I looked forward to but was happy to endure for the sake of making new friends and living semi-independently.

"Well, of course it didn’t turn out to be a full year (thank you coronavirus), but the halls experience was certainly the rollercoaster I expected it to be. Flooding my bedroom when my shower broke, almost burning down the laundry room and spilling countless takeaways on my flatmate’s floor (don’t worry, we cleaned it up) has been the soundtrack of an experience that really could have gone in any direction. Yet despite the midnight raves from the opposite flat and smells of which I’d rather not know the origin, now we have come to the end of this weird and wonderful journey there is something almost wrong about the eerily quiet atmosphere it has left behind.

"As an ardent overthinker, night-time is often a sore spot for me. As my room becomes pitch black and everyone has turned their phone off for the evening, this is often the time when the irrational thoughts and worries begin to feel bigger and bigger. I know that I am not the only one who experiences this, and at university in a small dorm room with the thump of deafening music emanating from other flats I figured that this would become a more significant problem. However, it seems that the hum of students roaming around campus and the general buzz of the evening had the reverse effect, as now that people are slowly beginning to filter out of the campus and return to their homes, the silence I once longed for is now deafening. Although myself and my friends have decided to stay in halls for another week to make the most of the time we have lost, it is so bizarre to sit in my flat’s kitchen and just hear…nothing.

"This may sound a strange statement, but this unease at the silence is something I never imagined and am therefore quite proud of. Like for many new students, moving away to live in an environment such as halls was something that filled me with fear, so to reach the end of this year knowing that I adjusted and lived to tell the tale is something I feel I can give myself a pat on the back for. The entirety of the past year-and-a-half has required adjustments on all of our behalf, so perhaps a collective pat on the back is required for everyone. Now we need to invent the technology for me to return to September 2020 and tell panicking pre-university Jenny that it all worked out just fine.