The first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Wuhan China on November 15, 2019 and quickly started to spread. By January 21st, 2020, there were 219 cases all over china. Currently, there are over 188, 297 cases spread over 147 countries or territories with a total of 4,799 deaths. In Wales there are 136 cases with 5 in North Wales. As COVID-19 is rapidly spreading, many places are taking precautions to try and limit the spread of the virus. On Thursday, March 12th, the long-awaited Varsity, Socs fest, Summer Ball and award dinners were cancelled. Sean Mitchell-Goldstraw, a second year geography student who is also in Rugby League explains his thoughts: “I’m absolutely gutted Varsity and the Summer Ball is cancelled, as are the other lads. We’ve had a super strong performance this year and to have it called off at the last second is heartbreaking.” I have personally decided that the cancelling of Varsity and the other events were the start of ‘bangpocalypse’. It continued into the evening of March 12th when it was announced to be the last Academi night and things just escalated from there. Seren’s annual Academi night was expecting around 200 people, yet over 600 showed up in the end, making it one of the busiest nights of the year. After that, the spread of COVID-19 continued and was officially called a pandemic. All around the world, schools and airports were being shut and as other universities started to become online for the rest of the semester, we were all waiting on what Bangor University would decide to do. People on various study abroad programs from all around the world were then asked by their home universities to leave.
“The worst part will be leaving the incredible people I met here. I’ll miss them, but hopefully we will continue to keep in touch,” says Soren Granger, a second year studying archaeology from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Henry Rappleyea, a third year from Oregon State University studying ocean sciences says “This whole situation is super distressing and I can’t decide whether I should go home because every day I learn something new. It really sucks that 70% of my friends are leaving.” Henry was told he ‘should’ come home but it is not required, yet not every university is giving people a choice. These changes have forced the group of students from Central College in Iowa home too. “I am still in shock and disbelief that my semester abroad has come to a close. On Thursday my home university [Central College] was leaving the decision whether to stay or go up to each student. Less than 24 hours later I got the email notifying me of the program suspension. I am sad that I am leaving behind Wales and the memories and travels that were still yet to be made during the next two months, but I have been trying my best to look for the positives and have peace of mind being back home” explains Georgia Illa, a third year studying psychology.
Though it is not just international students who are going home; many students from all over the United Kingdom have decided to leave as on March 15th, Bangor University made the decision to cancel classes for the rest of the semester. Ben Shakespeare, a first year studying psychology who is also a Welsh native from Flint says “I’m going to be going home soon to support my family, it’s a bit sad really, precautions have to be taken definitely but I’ve never seen something go so wrong with the world in such a short time.” Mia Aston, a second year marine biology and zoology student from Wigan says, “The turnaround of information relating to the COVID-19 virus was very fast and the university was incredibly efficient at updating FAQs and emailing us with appropriate information. As far as studies are concerned, I am sad I’ll be missing lab contact hours, but I am confident that my tutors will provide me with the materials I need to complete my LOs. Leaving this morning was very sad and very sudden. The halls office handled it tremendously and whilst I’m sad to leave my friends, I will be glad to be around my family at this uncertain time”.
Overall there has been a lot of panic and confusion running with the student body but hopefully with all the safety precautions being implemented, there won’t be a large spread here in Bangor.