By Aidan MacDonald
The last 12 months have been a struggle for everyone.
From those who work in the NHS to those who have had to shield.
It really has been a year to forget.
One group significantly impacted by the pandemic is young people.
From the constant stop-start of sectors opening and closing, causing many in this age group to become unemployed, to the moving of university and college teaching online, taking away a significant part of my generation’s social contact.
It is clear those who are medically cited as young and healthy have suffered as well.
As someone who is a student, I thought it important to talk to others in a similar position and try to get some perspective on the struggles of the last year and the hopes for some normality in the near future.
Talking To Friends
I decided to speak to a few pals to get their thoughts on how things have been.
My friend Fraser Nicoll (20) told me what he found most challenging during the pandemic.
He said: “I think not being able to see friends and family in person has been really tough for students, like it has for the wider population.
“Away from university work and your studies, it’s so important to have that downtime and turn off for a bit to keep yourself ticking over.
“Over the pandemic, it’s been a case of sitting at your laptop all day and there isn’t that balance between work and socialising.”
He then went on to speak about what had helped him personally over the last year, saying:
“I think I’ve been quite lucky to have university work and a job to keep my mind busy for the majority of the year.
“There was a period during the first lockdown when I had neither for about 12 weeks, and that was really tough because it felt like I was living without a real purpose.
“I think also the feeling of collectiveness has helped me through a lot of it – that everyone is making sacrifices and that we’re all going to reap the benefits when we can see each other again.”
To try and find out views on universities’ support networks over the course of the coronavirus crisis, I talked to my pal Murray Grayston (21).
He said: “I feel like this really differs from module to module.
“Some lecturers have definitely got to grips with it well and their online content can be particularly engaging.
“On the other hand, I feel some are particularly set in their ways and methods and the adaptation to their content online has been a struggle for them,
“something I feel comes across in how I engage with it.
“Live classes are definitely the biggest challenge, it is too easy for people to hide at times leaving the same people to contribute every time.
“I don’t believe it is always their own fault, but it cannot be good for their development.”
He then mentioned how some lecturers have provided more support than others, saying:
“Some tutors will take feedback gratefully and adapt their teaching accordingly, others it seems very much a case of, this is the way it is, take it or leave it.
“In terms of out with the tutors specifically on my course, I can honestly say I have heard little to nothing at all from them which is a shame but I suppose they have thousands of pupils to try and work with, so that can’t be easy to do remotely.”
Potential of the Future
With there being so many young people currently unemployed, I asked my friend Robbie Gardner (20) if he had concerns for his future job prospects.
He said: “There is a slight worry, but I do still feel confident about the future.
“While jobs may be tight and I might not get my dream job or even something close, I’ll persevere and get a job I enjoy and work my way up to what I want.
“I don’t really see a point in thinking negatively about the future as no-one knows what will happen, so why not have a positive outlook on that.”
Young people are a resilient group, and we will play a significant part in the recovery from coronavirus from both an economic and social perspective.
From hospitality workers to supermarket workers to students, just to name a few, I like to think we won’t be labelled as part of the Covid generation but instead contribute many more positive things long term.