7 of the best moments about your first few weeks of term, and how to stay COVID safe when there!
Brought to you in partnership with the Department for Education
1. Make sure you don't miss out this Autumn!
It’s often said that your time at university and college are the best days of your life, and that’s true. The friends you’ll make, the experiences you’ll all have together and connections you make will stay with you for the restof your life.
Being at university or college is a time to thrive, hone your education, find your passions, meet new people, and try new things.
Students have had a hard time the last 18 months or so, so it’s more important than ever that you don't miss out on all the best things the new term offers. Each college or university will have measures in place to ensure your safe return, but the best thing you can do this term is look after yourself, and others too.
There are five simple ways you can protect yourself against Covid-19 and make sure you're not the one left out of social plans when all your mates are out:
- Make sure you’re jabbed, it’s quick and easy to organise
- Test twice weekly and report all your results online
- Meet outside as much as possible, but if you have mates round to your digs then try and keep a window open to help blow coronavirus particles away
- Wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
- Download the NHS COVID-19 app!
2. Meeting your class
You may feel a bit nervous, but meeting the people you will spend the next few years with is exciting. You have similar interests with these people and you might even end up working with them one day!
But more so, these people are going through the same experience you are. You are learning and growing together.
Want to make a good first impression before you even meet them? Make sure you aren’t spreading covid. Here’s what you should do...
- Take a rapid lateral flow Covid-19 test before you leave for uni
- Once you’re back at uni or college test twice-weekly to make sure you’re not passing Covid-19 to your new mates!
- Grab a jab, it takes minutes!
Don’t forget to report all your test results, whether positive, negative or void. It’s easy. Visit: gov.uk/report-covid19-result or call 119 free from your mobile.
If you have Covid-19 symptoms, get a PCR test – if the result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days.
3. Freshers Fair/ Induction events
Freshers Fairs and induction events are a staple across universities and colleges, and for good reason. Besides allowing you to make friends and cop enormous amounts of free stuff, they also give you an insight into student life.
Through societies, you can meet people with similar interests and build up your schedule until the only thing keeping you going is coffee and sheer free will.
Things might be different this year, with some institutions opting for virtual induction events, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get stuck in and find out what's happening around your university or college.
If there’s an in-person Freshers Fair or an introductory event, head along but remember we can all make sure we are doing our part to keep each other safe. Most importantly, if these events are in enclosed spaces - face coverings are recommended – your face covering should definitely be at the top of your packing list!
4. Why not get organised, perhaps even change up your room for the next step in your life?
Start binge-watching Queer Eye now because you're going to need the interior decorating knowledge to make your new digs your own. With white furnishings, a small space, and a world of possibilities, you can very quickly turn your room into somewhere you really feel at home, at your best, and inspired to get on with your studies.
And remember how important fresh air is. Open windows as much as you can as this will help remove air that could contain viruses. Pro-tip: letting fresh air in does not mean that your house will become cold! As we approach colder months, opening windows a little, even for just 10 minutes at a time throughout the day can make a big difference - it can reduce the risk of passing on Covid-19 indoors by up to 70 per cent! It’s also been linked to health benefits such as better sleep and fewer sick days – so it’s a win-win.
5. Having fun with friends
Whether you are in a new city, a new town, or a new environment, finding things to do with friends is one of the most rewarding aspects of student life.
Try out local hikes, museums, cafes, movie theatres, and really make use of your new environment, remembering you may still need to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and around campus and sanitise your hands regularly.
If you don’t manage to get your jab before you go (hopefully you have!), you could even go with your new mates to grab it - it’s quick, easy and free, and will mean you don’t miss out. If you’re 16 or 17 you can book your jab with your GP or attend your nearest walk-in centre for your vaccine (find it here); or if you’re 18 or over you can use the national booking service: NHS.uk/CovidVaccine.
To stay as safe as possible, meet your new friends outside where you can – it’s a great way to get to know people, get exercise and fresh air – and learn your way around your new surroundings.
6. The Freedom
For those of you moving out of the family home, there is so much to look forward to, including your new-found freedom.
Even better, you are one step closer to never having to fight your charger away from siblings.
Speaking of freedom, to make sure you and your mates don't end up cooped up inside this Autumn riddled with FOMO, keep following that health guidance – let in fresh air, test regularly and report your results, wash your hands, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and get jabbed!
Being double jabbed means you can avoid self-isolation if you come into contact with a positive case and have no symptoms. Jabs are quick, easy and free – and so far about two-thirds of 18-29-year-olds in England have had at least one dose. Don’t miss out!
7. A glimpse into the future
Further and higher education offers you a snapshot of the future. Here you can fully explore your career path, make life-long friends, and find out what really matters to you.
Feeling excited about the future is invigorating, and University or college can provide that excitement in spades.
So armed with all this inspiration, go forth and have the best start to the new term that you can have.
We’ve all had a much better summer than last year, with vaccines paving the way back to normality. For now at least, we all need to remember the ways we can protect ourselves and others: getting the jab, twice weekly testing and reporting your results, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, keeping your indoor spaces well ventilated and keeping good hand hygiene.
Any Covid-19 related questions you are worried about, always check your university or college’s website for all guidance.