It’s like a dad joke with an underwhelming punchline… What do you get when you put three freshers in a bar during a pandemic?

This is the year that we were supposed to let loose, go wild, lose ourselves just so we can reform into someone we choose to be. Like every other first-year going into college, we have this ideal in our minds of raging house parties and sleepless nights. We would survive on a constant supply of caffeine administered by an IV drip, and the will to power through until next Friday. We would panic over looming deadlines and bond over how unprepared we are for the next exam.

“It’s all part of the experience”, they said. “It’ll be the best years of your life”, they said.

And now we have been flung into the deeper end of an already deep pool. We all have, fresher or not. We scrape the barrel for the simple pleasures of bare minimum socializing, making friends through a screen. Our raging house parties are now over zoom, the group chats are on fire twenty-four-seven, teachers are sending emails as if there is no tomorrow, and our health is paying the price for it. Before Covid-19, it seemed that the world was being crushed by the “disease” of technology addiction; and now here we are, officially deeming it a necessity. We have been shown the studies which have confirmed the detrimental effects of being available all the time to multitudes of people, be they your Instagram followers or your lecturers, yet it is being pushed onto the student body with no off-switch. Our sanity is slipping, and so are our grades. It seems there is no escape from the never-ending deadlines and assignments. But what are we to do? It seems all we can do is grin and bear it as best we can and be there for each other as much as possible.

So; what do you get when you put three freshers in a bar during a pandemic?

We sit there, sipping on one too many espresso martinis, nibbling on our nine-euro meal that none of us want, surrounded by the illusion of a crowd. Eventually, the animated retelling of our weeks comes to a lull (there is only so much you can say about shenanigans of Brightspace lectures) and we feel it. That awfully predictable sentence that hangs on the tips of our tongues as we near the end of our hour and a half night out. The physics student looks at the law student, the law student turns to the sociology student until eventually, one of us cracks…

“Man, I can’t wait for this to be over”

And with that, we are snapped back into reality. We are no longer reminded of the horrors of tequila when we sanitise, but instead, we question whether we remembered to wear a mask. We bump elbows, and for legal reasons, I’m going to say that we part ways to go home at the ripe old time of half past ten.

Is this the first-year we dreamed of? Absolutely not. But we must remember that this will end. And until it does, we can do our best to make do with what we have and try not to lose our minds in the process. We will get our time. We will know not to take the mundane for granted. We will enjoy the early morning lectures, just because we get to attend them on campus. We will appreciate the guy that keeps hogging the treadmill in the gym, just because we have the luxury to turn up without a booking. We will dance in sweaty nightclubs, share taxis, go to a match, shake hands, and wear lipstick. And we will do it better than before because we now know that life really is about the simple things.

Rhoen Eate – Campus Correspondent