University is way more than just the degree – it’s about finding your community and making new memories! Being part of that community also means being open to others and the choices they’ll make. With classes starting back, it's okay to be feeling a bit strange about meeting in large groups, busy hallways or lecture theatres.
We want to let you know that IT'S OK TO BE NERVOUS.
Even though its a new semester, we're not quite out of the woods yet: the news still seems all doom and gloom. Some days it feels like everything is getting worse and worse, so it's completely understandable to feel apprehensive of big crowds, strangers, and travel. But keep in mind that we are working side-by-side with the University to make sure everything is ready for your arrival and that you feel confident taking those first steps (back) onto campus.
Our services and physical spaces are ready for you and the rest of this year's new-starts. While we have to maintain physical distancing on-campus, we're going to be anything but socially distant! Were all hoping for a return to in-person events as vaccinations start to roll out to the student community but throughout, we'll continue to have our events be planned to make sure you still feel part of the wider Heriot-Watt community, whether you decide to attend in-person or online.
Everyone working at the University, from the Student Union Full Time Officer team to your lecturers, cleaners, Safeguarding, ResLife, and everyone in-between has been working hard to make sure you are safe all last semester and this year is no different. We hope you continue to keep the same in mind: taking steps to protect yourself and other staff and students around your campus. Whether this is keeping to distancing guidelines, wearing face masks, or being responsible about enjoying yourself outside of lecture time.
Peer pressure isn't limited to drink and drugs; nearly a year on, there's an appetite to do away with restrictions and "go back to normal" but, as true as it was when this all started, that puts peoples lives (including your own) at risks.
Putting your health first will always be important, so if you find yourself in a situation where others’ behaviour makes you uncomfortable, we want you to feel empowered to speak up. If you are meeting new people and you want to keep your mask on, keep it on! You don't need to justify that extra bit of handwashing or standing back. If it makes you feel more comfortable, then do it.
And the same goes for if you feel like you're in a situation where you think others are being a bit overly cautious. Anxiety, underlying health conditions, and being from a household with a vulnerable person are only some of the reasons others may prefer to maintain social distancing. So, don't feel the need to ask why someone keeps their mask on, they'll have their reasons! Besides, you now have a new way to distinguish all the new people you're about to meet - who's got the most iconic mask in your group?
One last thing, in the weeks to come, stay informed and make sure you read the correct guidelines that are published between the UK and Scottish governments. Most of the rules you’ll be asked to follow will belong to the Scottish government, but some will come from the UK government – especially if you’re an international student or are travelling for any reason soon.
Check the latest guidance here!