Student Stories

What life was like for students in the pandemic year?

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise. However, Hafizie took the risk where no one was willing to undertake by travelling to the UK during the peak of the pandemic. In this article, he shares his invaluable experiences and challenges of studying at Aberystwyth University.

Studied in Aberystwyth University Law(LLB)

The Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to change their way of living. Some of those most affected have been university’s student like myself. This write up will explain my invaluable experiences where I found myself taking a risk where no one was willingly to undertake! We are talking about departing to the UK in 2020 where the Covid-19 pandemic was still at its peak! But what is it like to start university and have to deal with these things while also trying to remain safe from coronavirus? Gladly, Aberystwyth University had provided (and still accommodating) various top notch and world class supports towards students, especially to those who came from overseas countries like myself.

I still remembered from the moment I’ve gotten my offer letter to read law at Aberystwyth University, the South East Asia’s (SEA) Office in Subang Jaya had been so accommodating and also ensuring that I am well prepared in terms of meeting the predeparture requirements such as fulfilling the university’s conditional offer, the Student’s Visa application, flight ticket bookings and safe travel arrangements from Kuala Lumpur to the end destination which is Aberystwyth itself. Overall, I felt that the supports that I’ve received from the SEA’s Office was tiptop and more importantly, keeping myself on track and well prepared before flying off to the UK.

Starting university is rarely easy for students. Meeting and making new friends, getting to grips with your course and moving away from home in the mid of pandemic for the first time in my life are all major challenges! I was so glad that the SEA’s Office has grouped a dozen of us (which including myself as a Year 1 newbie with others that were on their final year of studies as part of their transfer credit arrangements from private institutions in Malaysia with diverse courses including Law, Business & Management, Psychology and etc). We were arranged to fly together as a group where we departed from Malaysia on the first week of October 2021. During this time, it was a legal requirement by the Welsh Government during that time that we’ve got to self-isolate for two weeks. Mind you, the Pfizer’s vaccine was at its trial stages during this period of time.

It’s a strange but also exciting experience to be self-isolating with people I only met virtually few days prior to departure to the UK because we had a meeting with committee members of AberMSoc and other students who were also in the same intake with me. I’m just thankful that I get along well with my batchmates! We were accommodated at the Penbryn Hall where we spent 2 weeks there. The Aberystwyth University had been so accommodating to us by providing cooked hot foods at least twice a day throughout the entire isolation period. On top of that, the university also provided to us various packed, dried and tins foods ranging from bolognese and carbonara sauces, spaghetti, breads and etc. Also provided was toilet rolls and antiseptic wipes. Honestly, I felt that we were provided with more than enough supplies to survived throughout the entire isolation. Clean plates, cutleries, drinkware and cookware were also provided.

Furthermore, it is also worth to mentioned that during that time, some lectures or seminars was moved online. Sometimes, we had that combination of in-person and online teachings, which purely reflected the Covid-19’s infections around the Ceredigion County. The University had to followed the guidance from the Welsh government in relation to this teaching arrangement. All in all, this kind of teaching arrangements had somewhat given us that reassurance that you will not left behind in terms of your studies and the teaching staffs had been so kind and the amount of professionalism was immeasurable!

Most universities, including Aberystwyth University, are putting measures in place to protect students and staff against the threat of coronavirus. Other popular methods of protecting against the virus in universities included making face coverings in public places compulsory, distributing sanitizing hand gel and increasing the frequency of cleaning/disinfection in university facilities. Basically, there is a hand sanitizer by most doors upon entering the building and we also have to wear a mask in all face-to-face lectures and seminars and there are many signs around the university reminding us to socially distance and to wear face masks.

Back to the current times, it seems like our life in Aberystwyth are back to near normal just like before Covid-19, with caveat, that the mask mandate in close space is still being enforced, exceptions to few places such as restaurants and pubs. I’ve enjoyed my time so far in the university with all of the lectures and seminars are being held in-person.

Sports Centre are now full with those fitness enthusiasts such as myself and that various contact sports such as football, water polo, swimming, badminton and others are in full swing! There are also clear and constant updates by the university to all of us in regards to the current development of Covid-19. Mind you, it’s done at least once a week (twice or more notifications whenever the Welsh Government updated their triweekly reviews on Covid-19).

A lot of students are currently enjoying socializing among themselves by doing bonfire, house party or even flat gathering! And to enter the most havoc nightclub in Aberystwyth aka The Pier, Covid Passport is mandatory. Don’t get surprised if our MySejahtera’s vaccine certificate are also being accepted! All in all, we are living our life to the best way possible while striving for academic excellence in this renowned institution.

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