Tips For Studying Abroad: As Told By An EU Student

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The process of picking the right university is often a difficult task. Choosing the best course, working on your grades and writing personal statements are all vital components of ensuring that your embarkment on the path of higher education is fulfilling and worthwhile. A factor that is not always at the forefront of everyone’s worries is location. For most, the prospect of moving into student accommodation is a welcomed thought that opens up the world of independent living and self-sufficiency. However, what happens if the university that best suits you is not a 2-hour drive from your current residency but rather a 2-hour plane journey? How easy is it to settle into an entirely new country and culture while still being overwhelmed by the daunting world of university? In this short article, I will try to provide some helpful advice on how you can make the most of studying abroad!

1. Explore your surroundings – Whether you are getting ready to commence your year abroad or you have just decided to move to a new country as a way to achieve your desired diploma, I would suggest that you take some time prior to the first week of lectures to go out and explore your new neighbourhood. Most students tend to do this around the time that their chosen universities host open days. This provides a good opportunity to get familiar with the campus while not having to dish out too much money on travelling back and forth just to see the same location twice. Additionally, I would suggest treating your soon-to-be-home as a holiday destination. Dedicate a week to sightseeing while not forgetting to also do a bit of scouring to find the closest shops and libraries. Doing so should help to get you settled in and take a bit of stress away from those first most hectic weeks.

2. Get to know others in your situation – The University of Greenwich is proud of the fact that it is a global university. Between the years of 2015 and 2016, 19% of all students listed their domicile region as either in the EU or overseas. This means that it is highly likely that you will not be alone in your situation. Make the most of international societies and events to ensure that you are more likely to find likeminded individuals. Remember, it is always easier when you’re in a group!

3. Immerse yourself in the culture – There are countless ways to improve your knowledge and familiarity with the new culture that you will inevitably be a part of. From books to films, don’t be afraid to have fun when learning and getting ready to enter a new chapter of your life. Your personal experience will always be different from what others will tell you or what the media will represent, but using the countless resources available have the potential to hopefully calm you and aid you in your preparations.

4. Most importantly… HAVE FUN! – Remember that university life is not just all about studying. It is often the case that partaking in extracurricular activities and making friends is what helps to motivate us to do better in exams and lectures. Being in a new country will allow you to meet and interact with an immense array of people from different walks of life so don’t forget to be open and ready to make your student life at university a fond memory to last forever!

I hope that this article has helped you to reaffirm your decision to study abroad, and as a student at the University of Greenwich, I will welcome you with open arms and wish you an unforgettable experience!

By Bogna Bućko

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Irrational fear.

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Fear, such a small word but with huge effects. Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of failure. The verb translates as to be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful. But what about the unfounded fears? The untypical fears. Some people are afraid of tomato sauce, for example, others find their hearts racing at the sight of cotton wool. Harmless objects that seem neither painful, harmful, or dangerous. Do you ever wonder why some fears are so ingrained, what historical event was so traumatic that your body has now created a physical alarm system that triggers your flight response?

Take me for example: To coin a phrase, I consider myself to be a “double hard bastard”; I tackle spiders like a boss. I don’t even need a cup, I just pick them up and put them outside as gently and kindly as I can. If it’s raining I might even let them stay a while longer. Rats? I laugh in the face of rats. Well, not quite, I actually like to kiss their little twitching noses. I have kept pet rats and love the feel of their rough-textured tail between my lip (a dangerous pass time as they share an equal appreciation, except it triggers them to wee). Snakes? Whilst I don’t want to have one as a pet, I hold no fear of them.

So here I am strolling through life with no apparent fear, like a superhero. Except I do have a fear. I have my very own kryptonite. Worst of all, I have no grounds for it. I have no idea why or how I came to be afraid, but I am. I mean full on goosebumps, shallow breath, heart-racing fear. I am putting it out there and fessing up. I am a naviphobe (from the Latin for ship) a fear of boats and cruise ships. I am equally afraid of those in dry dock of water. Okay, I hear you say, but as fears go, it’s a rare one. I mean, you are not often faced with a ship, right? Except I attend the University of Greenwich. After McDonald’s the next thing you see on leaving the station is…that’s right, the Cutty Sark! A big bastard ship flaunting itself in front of me like a cruel taunt saved especially for me. Unfounded, I know, but terrifying all the same. I have no idea why this became my fear, I have no childhood memories of being by a boat whilst feeling unwell for example. No recollection of a horror film, where a ship crushed a small family of puppies. Seemingly completely random. My question is what are you afraid of? And more importantly, do you know why? 

By Julie Sanford

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Is Social Media All That Bad?

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Social media is definitely a big deal. We all know it, we’ve all heard of it, most of us use it and most of us are addicted to it. Did you just shake your head? You’re not addicted? Sounds like you’re in denial to me. It’s okay to admit it. You have to embrace yourself first before you can make a change.

I certainly believe that I am. I can barely do one task before grabbing my phone, scrolling through Instagram and seeing the same ten posts I had just scrolled through. Or jumping onto Snapchat, flicking through a bunch of stories before growing tired of everyone having more fun than me and planting my phone down on the table. 

I wanted to know if it had affected people in the same way as it had me so I quizzed my friends for their opinions on the major platforms. 

“Do you think you’re addicted to social media?” I asked, expecting the worst. 

“A little bit – ‘cause I’m really bored,” she said. 

I looked at her and nodded. Understandable given the situation now. 

I looked at the other expectantly. 

“Hell no! Not Insta and Snap, I barely use them,” she said confidently, “the issue lies when it gets to Netflix and Wattpad.” 

I mean who can disagree with the latter. 

‘Do you think they have a negative impact?’ 

‘Yes, it kinda does if your mental health is already low.’ 

The other turned to me, ‘For me personally, I don’t think it has a negative impact per se, like, I just use it as a past time – in the grand scheme of things it could have a negative impact on people missing out on key development because they get addicted from a young age.’ 

Very insightful. 

The impact of social media, influencers and body image already has had a damaging effect on most users of the apps. What if children were exposed to it earlier than any of Generation Z? We have all been exposed, but Gen Z has essentially seen the internet’s birth into society. I remember holding a brick Nokia phone and, within what seemed like minutes, seeing a sleek iPhone. The internet age has progressed so rapidly, most people aren’t even sure of the next generation of iPhone, iPad, laptop before they have bought it. With this rapidly growing movement, the damages are unforeseeable. 

Children should be the most supervised, most people in my generation got a smartphone at around thirteen, but now these new electronics are so readily available for much younger ages. So much so that parents must take heed. The damage on teenagers now is already drastic, the younger generation needs to be able to experience life without the ideas of the ‘perfect body’ being shoved upon them. That could have devastating effects. 

Now, before you judge: I’m not saying social media is altogether a bad thing. It can definitely have some positive effects like connecting with friends and sharing parts of your life with others. You can also get body positive influencers to help with any insecurities you may have developed from others. Sometimes following people that you know will help your insecurities is better than following people you aspire to look like. So, all that remains to be said is: Accept yourself. You are beautiful! Don’t let any trend, any person, any thing let you believe otherwise.

If you want to share how social media has affected you, please feel free to comment below. 

By Maria Benseler-Reid

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Writer’s Block: How To Crush It

Image by Chessie Dowdeswell

Writer’s block: it’s a cruel mistress. It strikes when it wishes and doesn’t care about your oncoming deadlines. It hits especially hard when you’re studying creative writing, literature or anything like that. It’s like you’re standing in front of a wall – too high to climb and too wide to walk around. But remember this: you must not give in. I have come up with a list of tips so you can crash right through the centre of that wall and achieve your true potential.  

Take a Walk
The best thing about attending University of Greenwich is that the park is right next door. It’s the perfect labyrinth to get lost in. Take a moment to think through your ideas. Maybe you’ll have a revelation. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Just remember to keep your distance and stay safe when you’re out of the house.

Work on a Different Project
Struggling with one thing? Turn to another. Set the task that’s giving you grief aside and try something else. Write a different poem, a different article or read through something you’ve already done. There’s no harm in setting something aside for a while if you can’t do it to the best of your ability.

Write The Stupidest Possible Version
Who can honestly say that doing serious work sparks joy? If you get stuck, try writing the most ridiculous version of your scene ever. What if a giant tiger falls from the ceiling and summons the Antichrist who takes the form of Piers Morgan? Don’t be afraid to have fun with what you’re doing and this doesn’t have to be the final version. Maybe an idea will catch light. At least you’ll have had a good laugh. 

Talk To Someone About It
There are loads of students here all in the same boat. Reach out to a classmate and talk it through. Reach out to a family member and ask for their input. Why not ask your tutor? Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s completely rational. We all need help from time to time.

Sleep
We’re students: tired is our default state of mind. Have a nice long rest and come back to what you’re working on later. Everything is clearer if you step away from it for a while. Plus, who doesn’t love a good sleep?

Read
Pick up an old favourite or something entirely new. Read critically and think about what you liked and disliked. Most importantly, ask yourself why. Why is this effective? Why am I drawn to this? Why would I never do this in a million years? From there, you can translate those answers into your work. Pick out that inspiration and use it. This works for poetry, prose, plays or whatever you’re trying to tackle. 

Watch Some TV
Just like reading, you can find so many ideas in shows. Put Netflix on in the background and see what comes to mind. How about some Gossip Girl or The Mandalorian or Gavin and Stacey? Find something in the genre you’re working on and enjoy it. Or hate it. You’ll learn something either way.

Try a Different Location
Lockdown. Ugh. If you sit at a desk all day you’ll be slamming your face in your keyboard by mid-afternoon. Get up. Try writing in the garden, the kitchen or the living room. Take a seat on your bed, at the dining table or even on the toilet if that suits you. Change your environment. You’ll get a second wind and maybe even overcome your hurdles. It’s a simple trick worth trying.

Keep Going
Writer’s block can take you in one of two directions. For the first, imagine someone writing at their desk. They stop. They don’t know what to do so they get up and walk away, leaving their project unfinished. Now, picture this: instead of walking away, that person sits down a little longer and thinks a little harder. Eventually, they break through the block and write something amazing. That could be you but it won’t be if you get up and walk away. Only give up if you have a good reason. If not, stick with it. You can do it.

Take a Break
There’s no harm in stepping away for a day or two. Take some deep breaths and leave your project alone. You’ll come back with brand new eyes that can defeat any problem they see. We all get burned out sometimes; that’s when writer’s block settles in. If nothing else is working for you, do this. Leave the project alone and relax. It will come to you.

To sum it all up, writer’s block sucks. It sucks even more when your degree revolves around writing and being creative all the time. Sadly, nobody can write 24/7. We’re humans: we get tired, get bored, run out of steam. It’s fine. Breathe. You will do this. Look at that wall in front of you and charge right at it. If you don’t burst out the other side the first time, try again. Keep on trying and when you succeed, you’ll be reborn. I believe in you. You just need to believe in yourself.

By Chessie Dowdeswell

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Boris, I take your Covid and raise you a Fluffle

Image by Julie Sanford

Here we are again no doubt on the cusp of another Boris announcement. An assumption but a fair one, if nothing else 2020 has been consistently inconsistent, yet always at the helm of the confusion is Boris. Let’s talk about some of the words that have become more fluent this year. Brexit was pushed aside to allow for Lockdown, isolation, anti-maskers, Covid, Corona and phrases like Eat-Out-To-Help-Out, Stay alert-Control the virus-Save lives. You may assume this is a political post but far from it. In fact, it is a rather extravagant lead to introduce you to a newfound favourite word of mine.  That word is Fluffle. How does that sound? Fluffle. Of course, it could mean a fight, a soft sort of scuffle, a really fluffy and cozy duffle. But no, it’s better than that. A Fluffle is a collection of baby kits. Or bunnies, as they are known in our house. I have recently had the pleasure of experiencing some Fluffles after being chucked headfirst into being an inexperienced but willing bunny nan.

Allow me to set the scene. April is one of my son’s birthday, he asked for a hamster, my twisted logic resulted in him getting rabbits. Some small research on my part said that rabbits are best kept in pairs. The breeder only had a boy and a girl left, both from a different lineage, so the need to neuter them was not urgent. Off I went cloak and dagger during the first lockdown to be handed two kits at the door. A beautiful all black mini lop doe and a white blue-eyed buck. Now, my son is not so inventive with names, previous pets/teddies have been named Michael Rabbit and Michael Rat Slattery. For his rabbits, he had decided to forgo the Michael and instead wanted to call them Rabbit one and Rabbit two. Fortunately, whilst unable to convince him his name choice was rubbish, we were able to throw in a few that were more appealing. He eventually settled on Batwoman and Yeti.

Batwoman and Yeti are very loved and have lots of runs in the garden whilst we sit with them guarding them against the neighbor’s cats. They came to us during lockdown one, so I often sat with them basking in the summer sun whilst the children wreaked havoc indoors. I enjoyed watching them interact, their cute jumps of excitement when they were let to roam free. With a search engine beside me, I was able to become quite the rabbit expert. Did you know that rabbits have a similar function to a purr? They grind their teeth together when happy. If a rabbit trusts you enough to purr when you are holding them, that’s true love. If they lick you, it’s a sign of trust. Stamp their foot, however? They are not very happy with you. As we watched our rabbits grow the chance they would produce a litter was always on our minds. We watched for all the textbook signs that she was pregnant.  For months we checked their cage expectantly but no babies appeared. Further research suggested that Yeti just wasn’t doing it for her, she just didn’t fancy him. Poor Yeti with his pure white fur and striking blue eyes akin to a rabbit Paul Hollywood, I could only assume his personality wasn’t up to scratch or his personal hygiene was failing.

Our bunny watch was interrupted in late September as our beloved pet dog Leon become very unwell and with great sadness, we had to have him put to sleep on the 29th of September. He was and always will be my good boy and is greatly missed. With swollen eyes and a heavy heart, I tended to the rabbits the morning of Leon’s death and was surprised to find Batwoman had made a nest! Tentatively putting my hand into the nest made entirely of her fur I felt a warm collection of wiggles. Parting the fur I was greeted with four bald squirmy baby rabbits. The circle of life completed. We had our kits. Now for any potential rabbit parents, it’s important to note that once the kits are delivered, the rabbits will happily mate again on the day of birth. Mine did and although I raced Yeti off to be nurtured before the week had passed, Batwoman was expecting again. Which was lucky for us as I had already promised babies to other people and with only four it would mean parting would be hard as we wouldn’t be able to keep any for ourselves. Her second litter was born thirty-two days after the last. The vet advised removing the older kits at this point as they could put too much stress on mum and she could kill one or both litters. It sounds harsh but at this point, they are weaned, eyes are open, ears are up, and they are running around, in the wild they would likely have already left the nest. And so we came to having four delightful baby rabbits living with us inside. Free-roaming when their parents came inside to visit. They were used to being handled so it was often common to sit with a Fluffle of rabbits on our lap. A wonderful heart-warming experience I would highly recommend.

My husband who is a sixteen stone tattooed electrician sat opposite me fresh from the building site a fluffle on his lap, not long before the first lot was due to be rehomed. He looked at me and said through gritted teeth: “How can you get rid of these cute little pricks?” A Fluffle you see is a leveller, they should be used to unite all men.  Wars? What wars? Here, hold this baby rabbit.

I hope you enjoyed learning about my Fluffle as much as I have enjoyed raising them. They are notoriously fluffy and wiggly so picture taking isn’t easy. I have attached our recent and likely last Fluffle of seven, I hope my photography has done them justice, by portraying the warm cosy feeling only a Fluffle can create.

By Julie Sanford

First year mature student of English language and literature. Full time mum to a brood of seven. Accidental author of three psychological thrillers and two short stories.

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

The ‘new normal’ of studying: We’re all there with you

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I think we can all agree these are strange times, and that the university experience we’re all having right now might not be reflecting what we originally imagined when we applied to university. I’m an English literature and drama student; the other day, I found myself in the loft/converted office space at home, wearing a blazer and full hair and make-up above and pyjama bottoms below. My phone balanced on a stack of books while I adjusted the ring-light borrowed from my sister. This is the way my classmates and I are filming the play we are putting together as part of our module. I had to stop, look around and think; ‘This is my drama course now’. I am sure each person has had that moment, looking around their set up of working and studying at home and having to laugh at the situations they find themselves in. We have to laugh or we’ll cry. 

When I applied to university I had romantic images of wandering around the beautiful campus of Greenwich, reading novels, attending lectures in big amphitheatres, and engaging in conversations about books and favourite authors. I imagined creating shows and plays and performances in a theatre purely used for Greenwich drama students, working and experimenting with new people that have had all different types of experience and who have come together for the same passion of theatre. I imagined the energy of getting into a shared creative space and bounce ideas off each other to make something unique and exciting. Sitting in the loft of my house surrounded by pieces of costume and talking to my phone was certainly not what I imagined. 

But we’re doing what we can.

As a second year student I know I am lucky to at least have had the first year of experiencing this; grabbing a coffee to get to know fellow classmates, or going on nights out and rolling out of bed the next day, hungover and complaining about the 9am lecture (a right of way for most university students) or in my case going on theatre trips nearly every week to see new and exciting plays in London. I miss this. What we’re now missing out on is more than physically being in a space to listen to a lecture and attend a seminar; it’s the walk from the lecture to the seminar where you can chat with different people, ask about their weekend and connect with new friends. It’s the spontaneity of suddenly deciding with your flatmates to walk to a local bar, grab a cocktail and have a chat about your day. Or randomly chatting to someone in the library because you sat down and exchanged a smile, or reaching out and having a new experience through joining a society. It’s the little moments, as well as the big ones, we’re missing out on. 

To some level, we have all accepted this new way of working, at least for now. I moved home before the announcement of lockdown 2.0, and have been working from home this month. Instead of walking through the bustle of Greenwich market, or along the Thames on a crisp, autumnal, sunny day, my morning walk to uni is now from bed, to kitchen, to desk. I sit and listen to lectures and then warn my family I am about to start a call so please: ‘Don’t disturb!’ We all have to muddle along together as we adjust to each other’s schedules and working lives.

Looking at the positives, this way of university may be easier. I don’t have to cook for myself like usual, or do all my food shopping, or any of my laundry. I again rely on my mum and dad when I’m at home because I guess this is what we’re used to. I also have the luxuries of home like a warm bubble bath, or cuddles with my dog…little things I miss in uni halls. I like to focus on what I do have and not what I’m missing out on, and we’re all in the same boat here! No one is being able to experience university like they initially imagined or planned to, so I’m here with you, trying to focus on the positive but understanding the feeling of missing out and time going by when we’re supposed to be somewhere we cannot currently be.

There are so many different circumstances students have to face at the moment, as we have all had to adapt to living and learning in ways that perhaps we didn’t sign up to when we first applied to, and started, university. I certainly wasn’t expecting to find myself calling friends from all over the country as I sit in a costume in front of my laptop with a makeshift set up of lighting and sound. Who knows how long this will last and for how long we must rely on technology to feel connected to our university communities. I certainly hope it won’t be too long until I can wander through the streets of Greenwich again, on my way to campus, to meet friends, to make new friendships and have new experiences, as this is also what university is all about. But for now, I guess we must stay involved in the ways we can, through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, through calls and meetings, through participating in seminars and signing onto societies. We’re all doing our best to reach out from our own individual places to keep connected throughout this time and we’re certainly all in this together. 

By Maya Nardoni

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Not Driving Home For Christmas (Interview with Irina Ciorobea, Year 2 International Student)

Studying abroad is a challenge in-of-itself. Not only are you expected to leave your family and friends, you must learn to speak a new tongue, discover cultural differences and learn to belong to a society that may operate extremely differently from your own. This is already a gargantuan task, but there’s always the reassurance that you can travel home if it all gets too much.

Cue Covid-19, the global pandemic shutting down everything; including your method of getting home. Being in a foreign country can be worrying enough, but when the truth is revealed that you’re not allowed to leave the country even if you wanted to, it can become a nightmare.

Luckily, this isn’t the case for Irina Ciorobea, 19, who elected to stay in the UK instead of flying home to Romania.

When asked why she chose to remain in the UK, Irina had this to say,

‘Because I thought it would be much safer for me and for my family as well, ‘cause going home involves going to an airport with a lot of people and the chances of getting probably infected would be much higher by travelling back home rather than staying where I am. I was following the recommendations by everyone.’

Irina started studying Events Management at the University of Greenwich in September 2019. She feels her decision to stay in the UK was the right one despite all of her friends flying home.

‘Naturally I know a lot of international students (being one myself). Everyone’s gone home that I know’ she stated in regards to other international students.

She added, ‘they probably think it’s much safer for them to be home than in lockdown in a foreign country that they didn’t know much about.’

The decision to stay in London as oppose to going back home was not taken lightly. When asked if she considered flying home she said,

‘Yes, I wanted to go home but I realised, like when everything started to get really out of control, I decided it was better to stay where I am until everything goes back to normal.’

Proving useful for working from home and keeping in touch with friends and family, the Internet has proven now more than ever that we as a society are interconnected much more than we realise.

Speaking to her parents on the phone, through messaging apps such as WhatsApp and through FaceTime, has allowed Irina to stay connected to her friends and family, despite deciding to stay in London. Irina speak to her parents ‘everyday’ and her ‘friends and other relatives every other day.’

As well as communicating with her friends and family, Irina is also using the Internet for her online studies.

University classes were moved to an online format for the remainder of the term (her term ending 2nd April) and have (for the most part) continued online in the new 2020/21 academic year. A lot of students have expressed their distain for online classes, and have stated that with everything going on in the world, meeting their deadlines is not their top priority.

Nearly all of the universities across the country decided to move to an online format. You’d think that with more time to spend at home and less time for other activates, that a lot of time can be spent on university assignments and essays. However, many students (Irina included) are struggling with coursework completion and deadlines, despite the prolonged periods of staying at home.

‘It’s a bit hard because we can’t really access the library properly’ Irina revealed.

Some courses have been interrupted more than others. For example, Maths and English classes are, for the most part, unaffected by Covid-19; however other courses such as politics, tourism and event-based classes struggle to continue to work due do the isolation instructions.

because of the virus and because I study Events Management, all of the events-side has shut down too, so we can’t really access information about events and find academic sources for assignments.’

It’s clear that the outbreak of Coronavirus has greatly interrupted the lives of those all over the globe; potentially even more so for those wishing to travel to be with their families. However, for Irina it has not proven such a disaster not being able to get home. Rather, she’s focussing on her work and keeping touch with her friends and family from both the UK and Romania.

By Nicholas Jones

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Annie: Editor and Social Media Manager

Hello!

My name is Annie and I am in my third year of Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich. I am also the president of the Feminism Society and work as a Barista and Bartender in the SU’s outlets Change Coffee and Lower Deck. When I am not reading, writing or working, you can find me cuddling a dog or watching Netflix, if possible, at the same time.

I joined The Crow’s Nest as a writer in my first year of uni and, after a short break, helped Nick set it up again in 2020. Now, I work as an Editor and manage our Instagram and Facebook pages.

I hope you enjoy browsing our website and if you would like to get involved, feel free to contact us!

All the best

Annie x

How the British law safeguards rich landlords rather than weak students

Many students, such as myself, have found themselves in a very difficult situation due to the pandemic: Student accommodation contracts. 

The pandemic has changed many things, the academic aspect of university has adapted to the Covid-19 safety measures, which means that students are guaranteed online teaching sessions. 

I am an Italian student, studying Politics at the University of Greenwich. Because I am in my third year, I have lived in London for two years already. In February 2020, I booked a room at a private student accommodation in North Greenwich and I signed a contract which started in September 2020. Then the pandemic happened and I was forced to change by plans. I moved back to my country before the end of the second term in 2020 and spent the summer in Italy. On the one hand, the University has totally failed to promptly communicate its intentions for the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year. Therefore, I only learned in August that there would be a blended teaching format and I was told that I had to return to London to attend one compulsory seminar. All good.

I arrived at the student accommodation in the last week of August. Covid-19 was in recession and every day, there were fewer cases, which gave me hope and motivation to start the new academic year. However, after a couple weeks of studying remotely and only going to university once a week, the pandemic got worse and cases were rising daily. Also, I was made aware that actually not only the face-to-face seminar was never compulsory, but I also realised that I could have stayed home in Italy and avoid all the fuss.  By October I was already depressed, I was paying £1300 every month for a studio and I was not attending any face-to-face session anymore because I did not feel safe taking public transport. I was not even leaving my room. My presence in London did not make any sense anymore. I wanted to return back home. 

Here is where my problems started. I found out that the contract I had signed before the pandemic stated that if I wanted to leave the accommodation without being reliable for the payments I would have to find a replacement tenant, which had to be a full time student. I had to find a student moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world, during a crisis due to a pandemic, who was willing to pay £1300 every month for a studio. Impossible. I tried to find someone but as it may be obvious, I couldn’t find a soul. I spoke to a lawyer, I spoke to the university’s financial team. I found out that, once again, the British Law supports the rich and huge student accommodation administration rather than me, a student who is forced to move back home due to the pandemic. Has the government forgotten to adapt the contractual policies to the emergency situation that we are in? How is it even legal to not have a break clause in a contract? The contract is clearly not fair, because theoretically, it should not favour one part over the other, but in this case the student accommodation contracts clearly protect the landlord but not the student.

By Maria Niglio

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Nick: Editor-in-Chief

Hello, there.

My name’s Nick and I study English Language and Teaching at the University of Greenwich. I play rugby, work in a pub and read comics. I’ve also performed on stage, I have written scripts and recorded and edited a plethora of short-films.

I set up this website in my first year of uni. Well, I say ‘I’ did it. I had the initial idea. We didn’t have a student paper at university so I thought we may as well bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and set up a website.

With help from our SU and a few other students we laid the foundations for this site to exist- and I’m pleased to say that many people have found both content to read and a platform to express themselves.

Hopefully you’ll share in this experience, and find something of interest to you too!

Happy reading,

Nick x