Perspectives is a series of first-person accounts documenting how Liverpool’s creative and independent industry has been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Read more here.
Megan Walder – student & writer
With the end of University in sight, three years of studying and carving out a new life was finished in one email, Megan Walder writes in the latest from our perspectives series.
Three years ago, I moved to Liverpool, away from family, friends and Leeds. Like many students, I left everything behind at home and threw myself into University. Almost three years on, standing in Oxfam on Bold Street and looking at the dress I would wear for my graduation, it felt like the journey was complete.
Come April, I’d be working for a local independent music promotions company, I’d be submitting my dissertation and I’d be able to sort out renting a new place once my lease on my student house ended. No more being constantly skint; no more stress writing about literature that was written decades ago by old, white men; no more dodgy boiler and ridiculous letting agencies.
A month after my goals aligned, I’m here, sat in my parent’s house, unable to contribute to rent. The graduation dress is hanging in the wardrobe. It’s likely to stay there.
Coronavirus has stripped so many people of their lives, their income and their future plans, so why is my experience worth noting? University students have been almost entirely dismissed by the current Conservative Government. While some attempts are being made to ease anxieties for GCSE and A-Level students, further education students are left to ponder what will become of our degrees, our accommodation and our future. For once, I’d like the Conservative Government to take notice of students and their problems.
It has been up to the Universities to offer extensions, quickly construct digital teaching resources and balance student safety with access to facilities such as the library. University closed and I was left with three assignments and a dissertation still to complete. No big farewell party, no proper goodbye to my course mates and lecturers. That was it. Three years and all I had was an email to close that chapter of my life.
After University closed, everything seemed to go double speed. My housemates went back home, my friends started to isolate and shops closed. I avoided my mum’s calls. Going back home meant accepting it was over, accepting that this was my farewell. The unknown lay ahead as my future job was taken from me, the life I had created for myself in Liverpool had gone into lockdown and I was thrown into a reality that I never anticipated.
Our penultimate night as a house wasn’t one to celebrate. Our landlord came in to measure up for the prospective new tenants and dismissed our preference that he waited due to the health risk his visit posed. As he drove off, we started to accept the reality that there was little to no chance that he’d would give us any leeway in rent. My last little bit of student loan is going to someone whose paycheque is combined from other people’s paycheques. He probably still won’t fix the boiler for the next nine students to squeeze through that door, either. Now, my ability to pay my way as I move back into my childhood home is non-existent.
Here I am today, in a city I no longer call home, with no clue how and when I’ll be able to return to Liverpool. For now I’ll have to face scrounging off my Mum and writing my dissertation knowing I might never get to have the big ceremonious graduation that I dreamed off.
If anyone is in the market for a 1980s ballgown, feel free to get in touch. You’ll likely get more use out of it than me. Plus, I could do with the money.
Words: Megan Walder / @m_l_wald
Perspectives is a series of first-person accounts documenting how the creative and independent industry has been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Read lighting designer Luke Avery’s story here.