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Ben Morris is 20 and a Broadcast Journalism student at Winchester University. Away from uni, he lives in Swindon with his family. He shared in the Guardian newspaper his experience of the pandemic, and being in lockdown whilst on campus. You can read his journey through Covid-19 below:

Ben MorrisThe pandemic started two-thirds of the way through my first year of university. I was very happy and had loads of friends. Then the lockdown hit, and we all had to go home. Due to my disability, which is spinal muscular atrophy type 2, me and my family were certain that if I caught the virus, that would be the end for me.

When the first lockdown eased in August, I went outside for the first time, which was terrifying. I returned to university in September and everyone who looks after me, including my family, were a bit on edge. When the second lockdown was announced, the university decided it would be too dangerous for me to go to face-to-face lectures. So, for the remainder of the lockdown, I did not leave my flat. I had online teaching, got all of my food delivered and I couldn’t enjoy the outside world. Mid-November comes around and I think, “Yes, I’ve done it!’ Then my flat mate got tested for coronavirus and it came back positive.

The university was very good and moved her to a different flat to reduce the chances of me coming down with it. But a few days later, I started to feel ill. I got myself tested and it came back positive. I had no idea what was going to happen to me, but I thought, “If I wake up the next morning, then happy days; if I don’t, I don’t.” As I was coming up to the 10-day mark, I became more and more confident that I would defy the odds and defeat Covid-19. I came out of isolation the day before my 20th birthday, and I was able to enjoy it with my flat mates. Then, I went home for Christmas, and I then got the news that I wouldn’t be going back to university for the foreseeable future.

What matters now is getting the virus under control and allowing students like myself to have a full and successful time remaining at university. Lockdown has taught me that friendships are precious, no matter how connected we are online. Generation Z has to live in the most judgmental era we have ever seen, and the pressure of Covid hasn’t helped. Social media brings a ridiculous amount of external pressure as you are constantly trying to portray the perfect “Insta life”. This obviously isn’t healthy. Snapchat or Instagram help us to connect, but they don’t help with isolation. People find themselves staring at a screen for hours on end, but there is nothing quite like meeting up for a chinwag.

Am I optimistic about the future? Yes, I am.

First published: 21st June 2021