Most people will remember their first year of university for the nights out, missed lectures and questionable takeaway choices.
But for this year’s group of freshers, life is extremely different.
Students across the UK have been forced to self-isolate in their halls or private accommodation because of Covid-19 outbreaks.
But some have chosen humour as the best way to cope and are using sticky notes and posters in windows to communicate with the outside world.
“Help!”, “Refund”, and “I’m claustrophobic, Darren!” are just some of the colourful signs popping up (and yes, that last one is a Gemma Collins in Big Brother reference).
Manchester Metropolitan University and Dundee University are among those who have made students stay inside because of an outbreak on campus.
Lucy, a student at MMU, told Radio 1 Life Hacks she’s been “unable to get food”.
“We’re completely locked in. We’re not allowed to leave the accommodation unless it’s a medical emergency,” she said. “We can’t even go out for a walk.”
About 40 universities across the UK have reported cases of coronavirus, meaning thousands of students are having to self-isolate.
Health minister Helen Whately said “it must be really tough” for students, but they wanted outbreaks “under control”.
But there’s concern from students when it comes to whether they are getting value for money.
Students pay £9,250 a year in fees to go to UK universities, with rent and living costs on top.
Most learning is being done online, making the need to physically be at university redundant for some.
Dan, a first year student at MMU, is currently self-isolating with six of his flatmates.
Speaking to Greg James on the Radio 1 Breakfast show, he said he had tested positive for coronavirus and wasn’t experiencing any symptoms, but that some of his other flatmates were.
“We’re all just sat in my room, locked in our halls,” he said.
“I’ve been in for one actual lecture but they’ve all been moved online now – I’m studying accounting and finance.
“On the first night [of lockdown] everyone was getting takeaway but now Asda are working with the uni so there’s slots just for us.”