As a prospective – and even as a new (enrolled) student – you can feel doubt and fear when joining university, especially if you come from another city or country. One of the reasons I enjoy being a postgraduate student at the University of York so much is the feeling of being part of one community through shared spaces. How is this possible to feel since Covid-19 you might wonder? Fortunately, the University has made sure new students feel part of the community.
I tend to visit many places each week to make give myself a routine for my mental health and wellbeing. These places can be used by all students. You cannot see any differences between undergraduates and postgraduates. It is, in this sense, a safe space where you do not feel part of a section, but rather of a whole community that surrounds you.
I recommend three areas: Ron Cooke Hub on Campus East, the University of York trail walk from Campus East to Campus West, and the University Library.
The Ron Cooke Hub on Campus East
This is a special place for students and – from what I have seen – some York residents too. The beautiful scenery with many birds that live on the lake gives you to a sense of calmness, even in the most challenging times. The Ron Cooke Hub itself looks beautiful, offers spaces to print and study. I have seen such a diverse range of students there at all times, studying or relaxing. The best part is it’s open all day.
Trail walking from from Campus East to Campus West
The immense green and endless fields automatically lead you to start walking with no specific objective. Then, while enjoying your walk, you realise you’ve ended up at the other end of campus. It’s a great walk where you see students, University staff, dogs, residents and more. And the added value: you get your steps done!
It’s a great place to run, walk and bump into classmates you have seen over zoom (social distancing of course). You could also do your readings or listen to your favourite podcast.
What’s more universal than Morrell, Fairhurst and Burton libraries on Campus West? During this year classes have been over zoom, but the library has been kept open for all students. You don’t only feel like a student because you go to the library, but the structure itself provides you with inspiration to feel as one.
Yes, you see other students – which is excellent – but also you see library staff, who are the kindest of all, super willing to help you if you need anything. This is a great space for discovering the “community feeling” through different book sections, walking around, studying. You can or even having a, since the students’ kitchen offers free hot water if you plan to stay for a long time. It feels like home.
A shared community
We usually tend to understand that feeling part of a community means gathering with others and having those social interactions. Still, since Covid-19, the University of York has used all its tools to allow students to experience a sense of community in many different ways. One of them has been through the availability of shared spaces, allowing you to feel comfortable with yourself and others.