As first year journalism students at the University of South Wales, we would normally be in class on a Monday, working on Radio and TV pieces. Just a week ago we were doing just that. Today is very different. This is a snapshot of the lives of USW’s virtual students.
Lauren Evans: Life in isolation
If today were a normal Monday, I would be studying in Cardiff and spending time with my coursemates in the city.
Instead, I am at home in Burry Port attending online classes via video call, speaking to family at a distance of several feet, and completing chores for my mum who is at the moment, working without breaks as a community nurse for the NHS. All due to the Coronavirus and the systems put in place to prevent its spread.
After attending an online class session this morning, my next activity during self-isolation was to spend time with my grandmother who lives next door.
Due to her being within the ‘high-risk’ category of contracting the Coronavirus, she has decided to completely stop any family visitors from entering her home and also keep at least a 6ft distance from myself when we want to spend time together over a cup of tea.
To see each other, we take our dining room chairs outside and sit on either side of her fence. This has been one of the strangest changes to daily life for me because I am so used to visiting my gran in her house whenever I like, and now as a precaution this has had to stop.
Living on a walking route popular with tourists in my town has also shown me the difference between life as usual, and life during a pandemic. My street on a day with good weather can usually be seen with a steady flow of walkers seeking a view of the harbour, but now it’s rare to even see my neighbours on the street.
The tearoom where I usually work has just announced that it will be closing as a sit-in food establishment but are hoping to reopen in April with a takeaway-only menu.
Most of our customers are elderly and depend on the tearoom as their only way to communicate with friends and locals on a daily basis. By having to close, these people are likely to feel even more out of touch with the rest of the world, as they are stuck at home, most without access to technology or social media.
Holly Briant: Grasping normality surrounded by chaos
Coronavirus has created a strange atmosphere for me. When I packed up my stuff last Thursday and realised that the first year of university could be over, created a depth of anxiety of how serious this situation was.
Instead of heading into class and saying hello to my peers, and talking about each other’s weekends, I’m now sat on my bed trying to stay on top of my learning in an atmosphere that doesn’t quite feel the same.
The only normality that I have found in these past few days was going to Longleat Safari Park for Mother’s Day and my mum’s birthday.
Even though this virus has created unsettling worries and fears, the safari was surprisingly busy. It was filled with families in their cars eating ice cream and taking in the sights of the animals.
No one was talking about the pandemic and not a single face didn’t have a smile on it. It was freeing in a way.
I was watching the lions and wolves out my sister’s car window and they didn’t have a care in the world. They had no idea what was going on around them as they laid out in the sun. Not even me and my family talked about the virus – we were all hooked in by the animals.
That was when I took it upon myself to try and do as many normal things as I could whilst sticking to the advice from the government on social distancing.
I realised I could continue my normal evening run as long as I was careful to keep my fitness up since all the gyms were shut. I adopted a green thumb and helped my mum with planting seeds in the garden and making the most of the nice weather over the past few days.
I have also taken this opportunity to read more and tackle a pile of books that I was given last Christmas. Just some things to do to keep my mind busy and try to not overly think about the panic I’m surrounded by.
My friends and family have also been taking advantage of the technology we have to stay in contact with each other. The game ‘Psych!’ has been a favourite amongst my friend group to have a bit of fun but being mindful to those of them that are vulnerable.
We’ve also taken the chance to teach my nan about the ways of facetime so we could stay in contact with her over the next 12 weeks of not being able to see her, which has had definitely had its challenges!
I’m trying to grasp as much normality as possible especially since moving home and having to find a new routine for myself. I found that being at home in the suburbs shielded me from what the city centre exposes you to and has let the normality process be a lot easier and makes me feel less vulnerable.
Olivia Grist: Coronavirus on the frontline – what working in retail is really like right now
My Monday routine would usually always be the same: wake up, go to lectures, come home, complete any work that needs to be done, socialise with friends and so on.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, though, that routine has drastically changed.
Instead I’m working in my local supermarket three months earlier than planned, on the receiving end of abuse from angry customers who can’t get essential items because the public have been consistently stockpiling – despite pleas for them not to. Imagine that being the only social interaction you’re allowed.
I can no longer go out and see my friends, or my boyfriend, or my Nan. I can no longer go wherever I want, when I want; that freedom has been snatched from me all thanks to this virus. But still some people aren’t taking it seriously.
As I walked into work this morning at 5:50, I was greeted with a queue of people waiting for the store to open at 6am – some had been there since 4:30. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The world has gone crazy!
A system has been brought in where customers can only purchase three of the same items, to ensure everyone has a fair chance of getting what they need.
This isn’t stopping people trying to buy more, though; I’ve seen families of four coming into the store with a trolley each and going through separate checkouts just so they can still stockpile.
After work I came straight home to a group call with my class and lecturer to discuss how we’re going to continue to write and meet deadlines during this weird time.
I felt slightly less productive than what I would have if I had physically attended a lecture – being sat in bed whilst on call might have had something to do with that, though.
I’m worried I won’t achieve the grades I know I’m capable of anymore.
I’m a journalist student, I need to be speaking to people. How can I do that when I have to keep my distance? Yes, I can video call, but that just isn’t the same.
Whilst we’re still allowed to leave our houses I’ve been making the most of getting out and going for long walks in places I know will be relatively quiet – which funnily enough is what I’m going to do after I’ve written this.
It’s so important to keep your mind healthy and I’ve found this has really helped. I’m not used to having to stay in all the time, so I’m holding onto any last bit of freedom I have.
To be honest, I’m gutted,. I just dont know what to do with myself.
This situation has taught me to appreciate life that little bit more. I’m counting down the days until I can get some normality back.
Alaw John: Y byd yn gaeth i furiau eu tai
Ni wnes i erioed ragweld faint fyddai bywyd yn newid o fewn cwpl o ddiwrnodau.
O fyw gyda deg ffrind, mynd am fwyd, beicio o amgylch y ddinas, bowlio, siopa, tripiau allan, i fod gartref, dan do, gyda chanu di-stop fy chwaer a’r gath fel adloniant.
Bwrodd y panig wrth imi wylio’r newyddion ddydd Mercher, fy noson gyntaf adref ers y Nadolig. Tan y pwynt yma, roeddwn i wedi bwriadu symud yn ôl i’r brifddinas am ychydig wythnosau cyn yr haf, gan adael ychydig o fy nillad, llyfrau ac eiddo ar ôl.
Roeddwn i wedi cynllunio sawl digwyddiad, gwyliau, pobol i’w gweld a phethau i’w gwneud gyda’m ffrindiau cyn ymadael, ond yn sydyn diflannodd y cwbwl. Ac am yr ychydig ddyddiau cyntaf gartref, roeddwn i’n teimlo’n isel iawn.
Nawr, mae’n rhaid canolbwyntio ar arferion. Mae fy rhieni yn cael eu hystyried yn ‘weithwyr allweddol’, sy’n golygu eu bod yn y gwaith bob dydd. Mae fy chwaer ym mlwyddyn 10, ac wedi bod yn gweithio’n galed a pharatoi at y chwech arholiad yr oedd hi fod eu eistedd haf yma.
Mae’r ddwy ohonym yn eistedd yn y lolfa, yn syllu ar sgrîn ein gliniaduron gyda llyfr nodiadau, beiro, dished a’r gath wrth ein traed.
Ar gyfer Sul y Mamau, penderfynom ymweld â’n famgu a thadcu ac eistedd o bellter penodol. Mae fy nhadcu yn 90 oed a fy mamgu yn 84 oed, y ddau yn iach, yn gyrru, a dal i gymdeithasu. Fodd bynnag, mae yna ddiffyg dealltwriaeth amlwg yno, gan fod tadcu yn benderfynol o fynd i’r dref i brynu’r papur bob bore, mynd â mamgu i’r clwb gwau, a galw i mewn i’n gweld ni ar ddyddiau Sul.
Nid ydym erioed wedi cymryd eu hiechyd yn ganiataol, yr unig arwydd o afiechyd yw cymorth clyw fy mamgu a sbectol ddarllen fy nhaid (o Siop Bunt Mike!) Fodd bynnag, mae’r coronafirws wedi’n achosi i beri gofid, a’n hatgoffa o ba mor lwcus ydyn ni.
Yn ddiweddar, aeth fy nghefnder i America i ffermio, ond bu’n rhaid iddo dorri ei brofiad yn fyr oherwydd y coronafirws. Mae fy nghyfnither, sydd wedi bod yn teithio ers mis Awst ac oedd fod hedfan yn ôl y mis nesaf, yn Seland Newydd ac yn amau y bydd yn ôl fel y cynlluniwyd.
Ac mae fy nghyfnither hynaf, Natalie, dan glo yn Sbaen, yn dysgu ei disgyblion ysgol uwchradd oddi gartref.
Ydy mae’n drasig, mae’n wir, rydym wedi’n gyfyngu, ac yn bendant nid yw bywyd yr un peth. Fodd bynnag, rydyn ni i gyd yn yr un cwch. Darllenais ddyfyniad yn gynharach, ‘Gofynnwyd i’ch famgu a thadcu fynd i ryfel. Gofynnir i chi eistedd ar eich soffa.’
Nid ydym yn byw mewn byd delfrydol o bell ffordd, ond fe fyddwn yn dod allan yn y pen draw, a bydd y diwrnod hwnnw’n un hanesyddol. Daliwch ati, dewn ni ben â hi!
Alaw John: The world tied to the walls of their houses
I never anticipated how much life would change within a couple of days. From living with ten friends, going for food, cycling around the city, bowling, shopping, day trips, to being at home, locked indoors, with my sister’s non-stop singing and the cat as entertainment.
The sheer extent of the situation hit whilst I watched the news on Wednesday, my first night back home. Until this point, I’d planned to move back into university halls for another few weeks before the summer, leaving a few of my clothes, books, and belongings behind.
I’d thought of things to do, places to visit, people to see, but suddenly that was all gone. And for the first few days at home, I felt very much down in the dumps.
Now, it’s all about getting into routine. Both my parents are considered to be ‘key workers’, so are in work every day. My sister’s in year 10 and has been working hard for the six exams she had coming up this Summer.
Both of us are sat at home, glued to a laptop screen with our notepad, pen and cup of tea with the cat by our feet.
For Mother’s Day, we decided to see my grandparents from a safe distance. They’re both very lucky. My grandad’s 90 and my grandmother’s 84 years young.
Both very healthy, both drive, and both socialise. However, there is an obvious lack of understanding there, as my grandad’s adamant he can still go into town to buy the morning paper, drop my grandmother off in knitting club, and call in to see us every Sunday.
My family are spread across the world at the moment. My cousin recently went to America to farm, but had to cut his experience short due to coronavirus.
Another cousin, who’s has been traveling in August and was due to fly back next month, is in New Zealand and doubts she will be back as soon as planned.
And my eldest cousin, Natalie, is in lockdown in Spain, teaching her secondary school pupils from home.
Yes it’s tragic, yes we’re limited, and yes life is definitely not the same. However, we’re all in the same boat. I read a quote earlier, ‘Your grandparents were asked to go to war. You are being asked to sit on a couch,’ we’re not living in the ideal world right now, but we will get out the other end, and that day will go down in history. Hang on in there, we’ve got this.
Emily Price: Coronavirus – a nightmare
Today will be the day I find out if my husband will lose his job.
The Covid-19 outbreak is slowly ruining our lives.His company could go bust. Bills will go unpaid.
Yesterday I had to have an awkward conversation with my landlord: “If it’s a choice between rent and food, I’ll have to choose the food.”
Considering my landlord is losing everything too, he was understanding.
The only thing I have to be thankful for is none of my family have the virus. Yet.
I am teaching my five year old daughter at home about the things we see in spring – it’s almost cruel asking her to name things she cannot go outside and see.
Today, I went out early. I was hoping for fruit or vegetables in my local shop. There were some carrots and mouldy potatoes.
It was quiet outside. The buses and trains are only running every two hours –and I don’t drive.
I miss coffee shops, free education for my daughter, food on shelves.I miss free will.
I can’t relax. I’m worrying about Boris Johnson putting the UK into a total lockdown.
I spoke to my friend this morning, a doctor working on a coronavirus ward. He spent the night nursing a patient. The patient was dead by sunrise.
I never thought that I would see a world like this.
I tell myself I must have slipped into a coma and none of this is real. Or, it could be that I fell asleep and this is a nightmare.
I may have to find work. If my husband is jobless, university will no longer be my priority. My journalist dream could be wrenched from me.
I think everything will be different after all this – I will appreciate everything more.
The greed of some people is a plague in itself. People are snatching from shelves with a ‘me first’ attitude.
My daughter keeps asking me: “Are you old Mummy?” She knows that the virus is more dangerous for the over 70’s.
I may Vlog later today. I’ve had to learn how to use the software with a useless tutor – Google.
There’s an underlying anger in me that is simmering beneath the surface waiting to erupt.
Why has this happened? Why now? Will I lose anyone I love? Will I become homeless?
I have a feeling that there will be a lot of people needing support with their mental health if this ever passes.
I wonder if I should drop out of university and start again in the next academic year. But then I think of the precious grades that could be lost and what it will be like starting again from scratch.
I bought a black cat three weeks ago. Black cats are bad luck.
Morgan Bryant: Back with the family
My name is Morgan Bryant and as a first-year student, Mondays are usually spent at the University of South Wales in Cardiff, studying Introduction to Broadcast Journalism.
However due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Mondays are now spent with a video chat with other journalism students who are also at home as we have been advised to stay indoors and follow the advice of social distancing.
I spend my time balancing completing university work (which continues through online) and helping my brother keep his four children entertained and learning as their schools have also closed.
Although the Covid-19 virus has allowed me to return home and help my family and be around them, it has also put a strain on many people’s learning including my own.
Instead of having our own space to separate our learning and home lives we now must find time to work around our families and finding a way to keep focus on our work, which can prove to be hard at times.
While people think of the Covid-19 virus has been a bad thing (which it is), it does have some perks as allowing student to go home early and spend time with their family, those who do not have to self-isolate.
For me, it allowed me to be home and see my family, who keep me busy and I’m not alone whereas in my student flat I would be on my own.
There is the issue of people not being able to see certain family members, especially on Mother’s Day.
A shopping trip allowed me to see people handing flowers through windows of their mother’s homes as they were not able to visit.
It made me grateful that I was able to see my mother and spend time with her that I would usually take for granted.
Bradley Cox: Elderly people need our help
When the coronavirus pandemic began it was made clear that one of our main focuses should be keeping vulnerable people safe.
At times such as this, elderly people need our support more than ever. During other crises we would be able to visit and take care of them in person, but during this one we have to keep our distance.
Before the pandemic I would semi-regularly keep in contact with my elderly neighbour, Carol. Now I keep in touch with her everyday by phoning her to see how she is coping with the unfolding global panic.
She is handling the situation well and following all the government precautions to remain safe. During our conversations, I’ve asked her how she’s been keeping herself occupied.
Carol told me that she has begun knitting herself a scarf because she thinks the next time people will be able to leave the house it will be wintertime.
She also has a dog that keeps her company and he’s received a custom-made hat from Carol during their time inside. She is very fond of game shows and enjoys talking with me when they are on.
Turning 80 this year, Carol struggles with technology so I offered to do online shopping for her. Included in her list were supplies and food for her dog while she asked for fruit and other healthy products for herself. I will keep in touch with her regularly to make sure she has everything she needs.
I think it is important that we all care for any elderly person we may have in our lives and make sure that they know we are there for them.