Back to school season is well and truly with us. School uniforms have been dug out of wardrobes, and lunch boxes and school bags are full to the brim. Third-level students will be heading back to college at the end of September, and some students will be moving into on-campus accommodation. New restrictions have been introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19, which include no overnight guests, no parties and more hygiene inspections of the common areas. I caught up with Aoibhín Powell, a fourth-year Human Health and Disease student, and Marie Bäumer, a final year in European Studies. Both prospective Goldsmith Hall residents, they discussed their expectations of the coming year in the on-campus accommodation.
“The previous week she had been at a flat viewing with over 70 people in attendance, including families and working professionals.”
Powell says she was “over the moon” when she got the offer. The previous week, she had been at a flat viewing with over 70 people in attendance, including families and working professionals. Bäumer was rejected in the first round of offers. She wasn’t expecting much from the second round, but was pleasantly relieved when she was offered a room a few weeks later.
When asked why they applied to rooms, both Bäumer and Powell mention the advantageous location and the practicality of not having to use public transport when it is currently recommended by the government to avoid it. Bäumer was on Erasmus last year, so she didn’t have plans regarding accommodation other than applying for rooms. She adds that as an international student, finding accommodation from abroad is a greater challenge.
“It hasn’t been made clear if we can have a small number of people over.”
While talking about the new regulations that have been introduced, in light of the current circumstances, Bäumer says she “wasn’t surprised” by the new rules. “You can’t be ambivalent at the moment […], you can’t have a wait-and-see attitude”. Strict rules were set in place by the Accommodation Office when the rooms were offered. Powell is also considerate when asked about the new rules, though perhaps more critical, saying that it would be nice to have small gatherings with friends. “It hasn’t been made clear if we can have a small number of people over.” The current restrictions allow gatherings of up to six people from three households. Although Powell is not entirely happy with the new restrictions, she understands the need for rules during this time.
Covid-19 has changed student life and will continue to do so for the time being. Bäumer realises that she is coming back to a “completely changed” college. Although it’s hard for her to imagine a version of life in Trinity that includes social distancing, she says that as we’ve lived with Covid-19 for six months, we’ve become used to restrictions and rules. Powell expects to find herself in the library more often, as her social life is bound to be dampened down by the rules. However, when asked about potential fears in regards to expanding their bubbles, the girls didn’t seem too worried. Powell is unfazed and says it was inevitable that she would have to return to Dublin to complete her fourth year. Bäumer seems more uncertain. “As of yet, we don’t know who we are sharing our flat with. You don’t know what their attitude towards the restrictions will be.”
“Bäumer is worried that there could be a repeat of this academic year, in that students will be forced to move out of campus accommodation without adequate notice.”
Despite various challenges this year, Powell and Bäumer are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. Powell says she’s “excited to see how the year plays out… hoping and praying nothing goes wrong.” Bäumer is worried that there could be a repeat of the previous academic year, in which students will be forced to move out of campus accommodation without adequate notice. However, she also notes that College was criticised heavily for that. She’s hoping that they have a more detailed plan if cases emerge within accommodation. Bäumer sympathises with those who didn’t get accommodation and are now facing the tough choice of whether to move to Dublin at all. “Coming from another place must be so hard, even without the added worry of accommodation.” Students will have to learn to live with Covid-19 and face changes in their social and academic lives. They must take precautions and measures while finding new ways to enjoy college life.