Charlotte Evans, Economic and Social History, Lancaster University (2020 Cohort)
It was late September, the colours on the trees boasting their most beautiful shades of the year and I was packing up my car to move to Lancaster. It was getting dark as I navigated the town-centre’s one-way system and eventually, after a couple of wrong turns, I reached my new house. I remember being dropped off by my parents in Nottingham where I completed my undergraduate degree, and that same, overwhelming sense of unfamiliarity washed over me. I didn’t know where any of these streets led. I’d have to learn my way around a whole new place, a new university and a new department in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
I knew this year would be different but, as the summer faded further away and my new course started, I was excited to be thrown back into something new. I was studying a MA in Digital Humanities, a new interdisciplinary course in the department of history. Despite this, Digital Humanities applies further than you might first imagine. My background is in geography and I was completing this Masters as part of a PhD studentship. It was an amazing opportunity, but I had to leave the place I’d called home for the past three years… and all the people I knew.
The friendships I have formed this term have been different than the friendships before COVID-19 made its mark on the world.
There was a brief few weeks where socialising wasn’t illegal, and I managed to introduce myself to the postgraduate history community. I was eager to learn about everyone’s background and research interests, and they were as intrigued about my own. There were quizzes, introductory seminars and regular PG meetings to join, all through Microsoft Teams of course. Even though we couldn’t always be physically together, we made the most of what technology allowed.
Then, with Lancashire in and out of lockdowns and jumping up and down the tier system, I made the decision to move back home with my parents. My friendships moved to social media, mainly Facebook messenger and Instagram but I still felt connected to the community. I got used to un-muting my microphone to speak in seminars, and learnt to even enjoy the dreaded break-out rooms.
I was surrounded by people with such diverse interests and ways of thinking, so it was great to debate our ideas in classes. I found that with most of the pubs and restaurants closed and the restrictions on travel, I had a new kind of focus. Rather than think about all I was missing out on during lockdowns, I instead applied myself to my work and tried to make the best out of a bad situation.
Charlotte is also an NWSSDTP Student Representative see here for contact details