The Impact of Covid-19

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By Rosie, Chemistry
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

Coronavirus seems the unavoidable topic of choice for my April blog given that it is the primary focus for everyone now, causing a tragic loss for many and putting our lives on hold.

We are living through an unprecedented point in history which will no doubt be studied in schools in years to come. If you’d have told me a few months ago that I would be queuing round the supermarket car park, two metres apart from anyone else, only to find empty shelves when I got inside, of course, I wouldn’t have believed you. It reminds me that life is very precious and I hope everyone is managing to find a silver lining to the situation we find ourselves in.

As far as University goes as a second-year Chemistry student, exams are going ahead online in June. This news came as a bit of a surprise since we had been told a few weeks ago that all University exams were cancelled. This was a big relief at the time: it had become clear that it was too difficult to focus on revision when minds were elsewhere and the online aspect opened up the prospect of people cheating. I think the Chemistry department has had to make an exception as the degree involves very little coursework and so it would be difficult to give chemists a grade for this year’s work without any exam assessment.

In general, the University has been excellent at maintaining an open dialogue with students, communicating with us by email daily. The staff have been prompt at trying to address queries and the library has been very helpful, giving students access to as many resources online as possible to support home study.

Sweet peas from my garden

It seems bizarre that I may not physically go back to University until October! I must confess that I’ve had all of April off and it’s taken me a while to find my lockdown groove. I’ve found it essential to think about what I want to accomplish each day and write it down (even if that’s just watching a film and painting my toenails!). I’ve enjoyed indulging my creative side with some marbling and collaging, and my Mum and I have started a vegetable patch in the garden.


To be very honest, I have come to see lockdown as a real opportunity for growth and productivity. For those of us not on the frontline or trying to keep businesses or households afloat, lockdown has given the gift of time. And as much as I miss seeing friends, playing at the tennis club and the prospect of my summer holiday, I will miss lockdown when it’s over.

Marbling that I’ve been doing during lockdown

It’s forced me to slow down and escape the rat race for a while and I have found a bit of capacity that I didn’t know was there. I’m doing my family’s and my grandparents’ shopping and at the start I remember people huffing and puffing, rolling their eyes, agitated in the queue at the supermarket and it was every man for themselves! Now, it feels more civilised and calm in the queue, people enjoying the sun on their backs, even engaging in conversation with the person two metres in front and thanking supermarket staff on their way out.

I also hope that the pandemic has challenged the mentality that we can all have what we want when we want it – sometimes we just have to wait or make do. It’s made me value loved ones even more especially grandparents: feeling like I have no time to phone them or drop in now and again is really no excuse. Perhaps it’s inevitable that we cling onto loved ones tighter when something threatens to take them away.

I recently read that only 9% of Britons want life to go back to normal after Coronavirus, I really do hope that it will bring about enormous change: a conversation about the impact of globalisation, valuing the NHS more, helping people to make big life decisions which increase their happiness, less pollution and a more active approach to Climate Change, thriving creativity and a deeper appreciation for science!

Until next time, stay safe and well.