‘Lockdown has been tough – but my confidence and study skills have improved through lockdown restrictions’

DMU student Sahar Hussain tells Pythias Makonese that although she has struggled during lockdown, it has taught her many valuable lessons.

Sahar Hussain, 21, is currently doing a Masters in Research Applied Health Studies at De Montfort University. 

“I have been here for four years-the first three years were for my degree and now my one year for my masters,” she says.

She thinks the COVID 19 pandemic had many adverse effects on people in general, including herself. Being locked down and learning online makes uni life difficult, she says.

“There have been many effects on my studies and I think the biggest one has been trying to understand the lectures we have had, especially now some of the modules are completely new and we need more time to grasp them,” she says.

Sahar Hussain in the library: “I have found the lockdown tough – but it has improved my study skills.”

In terms of her education, she has found that her assignments are harder to complete – mainly because she finds it harder to concentrate during long online lectures.

“For me, personally, it has been the online activities and workshops we have to do that I have found most difficult,” she says.

“For example, I find it very hard to concentrate during online lectures compared to when I am attending lectures within the classroom.  I think students can be distracted especially when they are by themselves on a computer,” she says.

Sahar claims the effects of online learning have affected her quite severely.

However, using the library as her primary source of work and research has been helpful, she says.

“During lockdown I have noticed that the library has been a lot quieter and I have been coming to the library Monday to Friday – every single day due to there being fewer resources at home,” she says. 

She found disturbances at home unbearable because of different people coming in and out of the house . And at home her wif-if was slow. It made studying and watching online lectures even more difficult.

“I think one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to be more independent to try to find better and more suitable ways to study. My confidence and study skills have improved through lockdown restrictions,” she say

 Sahar believes that the arrival of the vaccine will help to ease the lockdown. However, she still recommends that extra care is needed.

“I think we still need to be very careful with social distancing and putting on masks. We must take these measures because we are still currently not done at all with this pandemic,” she says.

Only leave your home if you have to, says Sahar. She only leaves her accommodation to study, go to the library and fetch essentials.

Sahar Hussain highly commends how DMU has handled the COVID-19 situation – especially with the introduction of the hardship fund.

Hypocrisy and neglect: The government’s handling of student COVID-19 testing

DMU journalism student Samuel Hornsby gives his opinion on the contradictions of coronavirus testing for uni students.

Photograph by Tim Dennell: Accessed via Creative Commons.

Down by the River Soar sits The Watershed, a building which usually houses sports events for De Montfort University.

Recently, though, as there have been no sporting events, the budding has been transformed into an NHS Test and Trace centre capable of mass testing for students and staff alike.

Before returning to in-person teaching, students are required to undergo two lateral flow tests taken three days apart – and the facility is offering booked appointments at the venue to test all students.

For those travelling back to in-term accommodation for upcoming face-to-face study it is ideal. Only a short walk from the campus and the building can handle the high capacity of rapid tests that are imperative to ensure an outbreak does not occur.

Everything seems peachy – until you factor in commuting students. For them being tested prior to returning isn’t a simple as one may initially think.

If such a student had to travel in for the test on public transport and then tested positive, then they are knowingly putting people in danger when travelling back. Clearly, this is not an ideal or practical situation.

However, the university has clarified if there are local testing facilities nearer to the student’s home, they can use those instead. This seems to be the ideal solution to the problem and minimises risk.

Unfortunately trying to get tested locally as a university student is a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare with each department just as bewildered and confused as the last who throw you from person to person like a game of pass-the-parcel.

Let’s go through the journey of finding out where you can get tested locally and try not to pull your hair out in frustration.

The natural place to start is the government booking website where you put in your postcode and then get sent to the page of your relevant county council. On there it lists all the testing sites. When you search up said sites you realise although they are called walk-in centres you still have to book before the test. Fine. There’s a phone number so this shouldn’t be a problem.

The phone number does not go through to the testing centre and is instead a generic NHS number. They have a list of testing sites but not how to book at those sites, so they recommend contacting the district council. This is because they are a smaller body that should know more about specific local testing in your area. Turns out they don’t.

District Councils only have the same list as the NHS which provides the names of facilities without any further information, but they do give you the government website to book through. A huge leap forward, it’s just a shame that leap is into a previously unseen pit.

When booking through the government website you have to provide a reason for why you wish to be tested.

Reasons include: being an essential worker, showing symptoms of coronavirus or have been invited to receive a test as part of a trail amongst other possible criteria.

School students are also allowed to have access to such tests through booking, but this excludes university students who if they do not any other criteria will be greeted with a message of not being eligible to book a test at this point in time.

This begs the question as to why they cannot access local testing centres, especially when school children, as well as sixth form and college students, can. It was the same government policy that told them to go back to in-person education. That policy didn’t specify university or school, it simply said ‘students’, yet where they get easily accessible testing, university students do not.

If you are lucky enough to live in a city, then you may find yourself able to access a non-bookable community asymptomatic testing site for those living in rural areas these are not an option as they only cater to the boroughs in which they are set up.

Furthermore, to rub that extra bit of salt in the wound, to order a home test kit from the government website you must once again fall under a category from the aforementioned list of criteria that excludes those at university.

When trying to find a way to test locally an NHS staff member on the phone admitted they have had to tell people to simply lie in order to get the tests they require. They confessed it may not be moral but they aren’t being given other options.

So, if you are a commuting student, good luck, stay safe and cross your fingers the government will be more consistent with their next set of COVID-19 policies.

Diary of a house party: ‘10.45pm. There’s a man at the door. We definitely didn’t invite him. He has a Leicester City Council logo on his outfit. Ah. We’ve fudged up.’

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By James Cannell

House parties. We have all been there, whether it be invited to one, next door to one or hosting one. I usually find myself being the latter. However, for the first time in my partying career, I have found myself facing my toughest challenge yet: a noise complaint. Here’s how it happened.

8.30pm

The door opens, and students come pouring into the house. Now I am accustomed to large crowds in small places. I excel in them. But through some lunacy, myself and my two other house mates thought it to be a good idea to invite at least 30 people to our, narrow, thin-walled house. Within the hour, our two- to three-person sofas are working at double capacity and the arm chairs faintly resemble refugee camps.

9.30pm

The alcohol is flowing, the drum and bass music is pounding and my sorry attempt to retain control is dwindling.

It’s not a problem. “The best parties are always the ones you can’t remember in the morning,” a friend of mine always says.

There’s another party happening next door. Just over the fence.  At this point, one of my house mates takes the initiative to make first contact with them. With a mighty heave, during which I am almost positive he has put his back out, he lifts the fence from its rightful place. And so, the parties merge.

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Image by Thomas Breher from pixabay.com

10pm

The merge isn’t a problem for me either. I am all for new faces. It’s just the fact that the party has not dispersed between the two houses, but we’ve added to the number of heads in my living room.

At this point, a game of ‘civilised’ beer pong has begun.

I say ‘civilised’ in such a way because the level of competitive chanting was something similar to Donald Trump shouting nonsense at an innocent journalist who was just minding his own business.

The game ends with me landing the final shot into the cup. During the celebrations, a drunken friend decides to chock slam another through the beer pong table, which is actually a door that we had found on the side of the road. Because of the fact it was a fire door, the two ricochet off the table, like a tennis ball against brick.

10.15pm

Upon closer inspection, we realise the table is in no fit state to continue the night. Because me and my fellow housemates didn’t buy the door/ table, we have no monetary or emotional tie to it, but that didn’t mean its retirement is any easier. In a moment of mourning, the music switches to The Sound of Silence. A dramatic change from the heavy, bass from before. A reverent hush is demanded as all 45 plus people are urged to file outside and pay homage to the table. Not the most unusual thing I have ever done, but maybe the most meaningful thing I will do tonight. It’s at this point that my stupid, drunk brain thinks it would be a good idea to set off a firework.

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Image by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

10.20pm

As the song comes to a close, I stand in front of the crowd, firework in my hand. I raise it to the sky, the fuse is lit, the fuse makes contact with the firework, it ignites.

At this point I realise reading the instructions would have been a good idea. See this firework is attached to a stick. I’d assumed that the firework would shoot off the stick. It didn’t it. It went off in my hand. At head level. The damage is minimal, luckily. Everyone laughs it off and the party continues.

10.45pm

Now as many students may know, 11pm is when you should quieten down the music. No more loud noises, right?

Turns out noise complaints can be made any point. I discover that after cleaning the soot off my arm.

There’s a knock at the door. With one house mate passed out upstairs and the other calming down a hysterical girl, it’s left to me to answer the door. There’s a man stood there. A much more mature one. Someone we most definitely didn’t invite. Ah. We’d fudged up. The reason I knew this instantly had to do with his outfit. Smart but causal, but with the Leicester City Council logo on it.

11pm 

The party has been shut down. Someone has complained about the noise we had been making. Whether it was the firework so close to the ground, or just the heavy bass we’re not sure. All we know is that it’s over, and we are to expect a council hearing soon.

Still, it had been one of the best parties we’d had and yet, come tomorrow, we will be  very much able to remember it.

Well, maybe. We decide to throw caution to the wind and go out.

DMUFC Weekly Blog (Nov 26): Players on target at darts fundraiser

By Luke Williamson

DMUFC took a step up with their fundraising efforts this week with the DMUFC versus DMURFC charity darts match in support of Movember. 

It wasn’t a particularly successful night at the oche for the DMUFC boys as we fell to an unfortunate 7-2 defeat, with the footballing victories coming from Jacob ‘The Beaky Blinder” Morgan and Elliot ‘El Loco’ Luxford.

Chairman Connor Parkinson said: “The event raised about £750 for Movember but we haven’t had the final number yet.

“Thanks to everyone who came to support the event and the lads on the night and thanks to the DMUFC faithful who brought a brilliant atmosphere.

“We all know who the real winner was, charity!”

Without yet adding in the money raised from the weekend’s event and the bucket collections on campus last week, DMUFC have already raised more than £2,100.

This is a fantastic total but with just four days left in the month, we need your help to push our total even higher, every donation helps a great cause.

Back on the pitch, it wasn’t a great week for DMUFC as the First and Second teams slipped out of their respective cup competitions.

Both teams unfortunately suffered 4-3 defeats, with the Firsts falling at Lincoln Seconds while the Second team suffered at the hands of Loughborough Seconds.

Two valiant efforts from our boys but it wasn’t quite enough in the end, now our boys can focus on their league campaigns.

Tomorrow(WED,NOV27), the First and Second teams are at home, looking to get their seasons back on track in league competition.

The Firsts face Warwick Seconds at Beaumont Park while the Seconds face Bedfordshire Thirds at the same place, with both games kicking off at 3pm.

The Third team travel to face Aston Thirds (2pm kickoff) looking to recover from the 3-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of Birmingham City Firsts a fortnight ago.

The Fourth team are on the road, travelling to Birmingham City University Seconds (2pm kickoff) looking to bounce back from a recent defeat of their own to Coventry Fourths two weeks ago.

All games are on Wednesday, November 27, so, if you can, get down and support the lads as this week could be massive for the club.

Make sure you follow @DeMontfortFC on Twitter to find out how our lads get on as soon as the results come in.

DMUFC Weekly Blog: November Week three

By Luke Williamson

Welcome back to the weekly DMUFC blog, where we have the week’s footballing round-up as well as an update on the club’s Movember fundraising efforts.

Three of the four DMUFC teams were in action this week, however it was a somewhat disappointing set of results for the club.

For the second week in a row, the First team were victorious over Oxford Brookes’ Firsts, this time winning 3-2 away from home in the league, building on the 4-0 win the week prior.

The Second Team couldn’t build on last Monday’s cup success as they fell to Nottingham Trent Fourths at home also in league competition, losing 4-2.

The DMUFC Third team also tasted defeat last Wednesday when they suffered a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City Firsts in cup competition.

The club has continued it’s push towards it’s Movember targets in the last week, with more money being added to the total raised so far.

As we get to the business end of the month, it is important to remind everyone of why we are raising money.

Men’s Health is important to us all at DMUFC and we are extremely grateful with what has been raised to improve the treatment and raise awareness of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention amongst men.

We are very close to raising £2,000 and, all throughout this week, members of DMUFC will be around campus with buckets ready to collect any small donation you want to give to help raise our total even more for such a worthwhile cause.

As well as collections around campus, this Saturday also sees DMUFC take on DMURFC in a hotly contested darts night at the Students’ Union building.

Both committees will go head to head in pursuit of bragging rights but more importantly to raise more money for both team’s Movember collections.

Tickets are still available at demontfortsu.com with all proceeds going towards Movember.

This week also sees the return of the I’m A Celebrity Social event, tomorrow night.

Dress code this week is red shorts and red socks, as the celebrities wear in the camp, with your name and phone number written across the back of your t-shirt or jacket.

As always, the meeting place is The Locker Room Sports Bar at 7.45pm, so don’t be late.

Back on the pitch, only two teams are in action tomorrow (WED,NOV20), with the First Team travelling to Lincoln Seconds for a 1pm kick-off while DMUFC Seconds are at home to Loughborough Seconds at Beaumont Park, with the game getting underway at 3pm.

Remember to follow @DeMontfortFC on Twitter to stay up to date with upcoming fixtures and results as they come in as well as much more.