Editorial #833: Musings of a virtual student

By Tash Mosheim, Editor-in-Chief

Some things never change. Despite having full knowledge this editorial needed writing, I still left it until there were only hours until Palatinate went to print. Simply reading this may stress you, (and I haven’t even told you my heart rate right now), but I have yet to write a university essay where the threat of the deadline – always one more snooze on the alarm and it will be missed – does not spur me to put words on the page. Call it procrastination, efficiency or a desire so strong for perfectionism that it stymies you, but it certainly is one way to kickstart your adrenaline for the day. Especially in today’s crazy, corona world, this is surely one of the least harmful methods of enjoying living life on the edge and not playing it safe.

This is not a philosophy I’m very consistent with, though. In terms of Covid-19, I might possibly be one of the most neurotic students you’ll come across. However, you won’t actually come across me this year, for I am, in fact, a virtual student. I only exist on campus as a face on zoom, or if I pop up on email, messenger or the phone. Unless we ‘attend’ classes together, or we share a love of a Palatinate social, I’ll sadly have more of a chance of being lost in the zoom void that is the space between a breakout room and the main seminar, than I will the pleasure of bumping in to you. 

I am, in fact, a virtual student. I only exist on campus as a face on zoom

For a student who spends a worrying amount of time locked away in their bedroom, I probably should be more enthusiastic than I am about the developments of the vaccine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited about an eventual return to normal that I’ve asked my Palatinate Secret Santa for a ‘F*ck it, Bucket or Done it’ list; I’m anticipating a time where I’ll be able to schedule in more reckless adventures, hopefully those that only involve one eventual and ultimate deadline. But now I can’t use the vaccine as an excuse for why I’m not going out – and specifically not going out dating. Whenever someone’s asked me, ‘how’s your love life going?’, since March, I thought I could cleverly avoid the nosy prying by shutting them down with, ‘I’m not dating till there’s a vaccine’. Alas, no more. 

Nevertheless, it has greatly entertained me, hearing how friends have tried to continue to date during lockdown. Of course, you have those who will Netflix Party with their partner, will go on not-so socially distanced walks, or even those who will find any loophole they can to see the current loves of their lives. One confessed to me they were going to hire their boyfriend as a cleaner for the day, and thus their relationship became essential, and they could enter each other’s houses. I’m not convinced this was in the spirit of the law, but surely neither is killing the turkey at Christmas so that you can have your 30 family members with you at the funeral.

I’m not dating till there’s a vaccine

At this point, you may be thinking that I’ve put my life on hold and am only living vicariously through others. You may have a point. Perhaps I should feel worse about it than I do. After all, I am at home whilst most others my age are in Durham, experiencing their final year in as normal a way as possible. Whilst it may be typical for a uni household to live like night owls, only going to bed after 3 am and rising when half the day is gone, in my house, it’s just completely unacceptable. How I envy all your abilities to have breakfast in your pyjamas at 1 pm.

So why have I not yet (knowingly) gone stir-crazy? Quite possibly because I only need to realise that though all my friendships are long distance and require constant zooming with, currently, this is the only way everyone can socialise. I only need to realise that being locked down in my bedroom, does not equal imprisonment, just that working from home now means living at work. And it only takes a second for me to realise that the ‘work’ I do is exclusively for Palatinate, (RIP my degree), which is not work for me but a way of life, something that brings me great joy and makes my time really worthwhile. 

Yes, I might become the first Editor in Chief to complete their two terms in office without setting foot in the Palatinate office or even in Durham. But with the editors now laying up the paper from our own laptops, it means that I can do my job in just the same way as any previous editor. Granted, and obviously most depressingly, I can’t go to the Swan with the team after a long shift laying up. Yet I still can get the paper ready for print, still send emails to the SU, and still write up articles that hold the University to account. I may be a virtual student, but it does not mean I am an invisible one.

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