Res student Tilly1

Home alone on Res: how Tilly survived lockdown with the support of the DRS community

July 2, 2020

Deakin Residential Services

Living on campus is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the Deakin experience.

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Like the wider Deakin community, students living in our residential accommodation had to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions and manage vastly changed expectations for Trimester 1.

The majority of Res students returned home when social distancing restrictions were imposed – and missing out on the unique lifestyle and culture of on-campus living has been hard on everyone.

But heading home was not an option for all students. Deakin Residential Services (DRS) has continued to house and support over 400 students across our various campuses throughout the pandemic. This has meant adhering to government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene, as well as running a range of welfare checks and virtual events such as online trivia.

Social distancing, hygiene measures, welfare checks, virtual events, additional cleaning, 24/7 online team

DRS has supported students in a range of ways during COVID-19 restrictions


Tilly O’Connor is a first-year student who’s spent lockdown living at the Geelong Waterfront Campus. We chatted to Tilly about her vastly altered accommodation arrangements and how the Res community has kept her spirits up, even from a distance.

How did you feel when COVID-19 restrictions were first implemented on Res?

When restrictions began it was a difficult challenge. Some of the best aspects of Res culture were changed overnight – from being in each other’s back pockets to restricting how many people we congregated with.

How have you kept yourself busy during COVID-19 (in addition to maintaining your study commitments)?

Quarantine has been somewhat of an adventure in the confines of my studio apartment and I’ve loved almost every moment. I’ve kept busy by participating in a ‘minimalist challenge’ to find value in the items I keep in my home, as well as discovering new recipes that are cost-effective but delicious on a uni budget. I’ve started up new habits like afternoon walks with fellow resis, morning meditation and a good boogie in my bedroom dancefloor on Friday afternoons!

Did you feel supported by DRS during this time? Why/why not?

DRS should be commended on the quality of their staff – in particular, those at reception and working in maintenance. They make this place more than just apartments – they make it the community it is. They’re always so sincere and down to earth, as well as being up for a yarn at any time, which is hard to come by in isolation.

DRS has reached out to all its students to check on their wellbeing, which is something I haven’t heard that other unis have done. From donuts delivered to our door to the red frog food bank bags, these small but memorable moments have kept me thriving.

How have you found the transition to online classes?

This is the one element of isolation I’ve honestly struggled with the most. I moved in early February from regional NSW to study in person at the Waterfront Campus, but that was unfortunately flipped on its head when we were relocated to Waurn Ponds. If it wasn’t for the constant communication and support from Deakin I think I would have struggled. But I have adapted and learnt new skills that I know will be beneficial even after COVID-19.

Have you developed/learned any new skills in recent weeks?

DRS taught us about three-ingredient peanut butter biscuits, which are phenomenal – but highly tempting for late-night snacks! I’ve participated in interview skill workshops on Zoom, polished up my slightly rusty Italian, started documenting the chaos of thoughts swirling around in my head in a journal and set myself the challenge of completing a sprint triathlon. 

How have you found the virtual programming offered by DRS and what events or activities have you enjoyed the most?

Trivia Thursday has to be mentioned, especially the graphic gurus with the crazy backgrounds and the people who are ‘in it to win it’! It’s a mixed bag of hilarious commentary and an easy escape from a sometimes overwhelming reality. I’ve loved the voting polls and TikTok Tuesdays – each week they seem to get more creative and have me cracking myself up with laughter.

Graphic of Res online activities

Res online activities during lockdown have been very popular

What has remained special about the Deakin Res community during the challenges of COVID-19?

Our sense of community. It seems this is a hard one to break, as in a short matter of time we all became family to one another. This bond has helped people to feel supported and less alone while separated. Although we came from different campuses, we all had this desire to get to know one another. Some of my closest friends at the moment are people I met two months ago when I moved into my studio apartment, and we all get on like a house on fire.

What are you most looking forward to over the coming weeks as restrictions ease?

The ability to all congregate together in a larger number and taking a few of the international students on day trips around Geelong. Quarantine has given us time to pinpoint day hikes and coastal towns we want to explore.

What are you most looking forward to when DRS is able to invite former roommates back to Res?

Wrapping my lanky arms around them in a physical form instead of having to give them virtual hugs. We’ve all been through such different experiences that we will need a week to debrief over avocado toast and cups of tea while looking at the Waterfront views.


T2 accommodation 

Applications to live on Res in T2 are now open and we’re currently accepting applications from students who:

  • are required to attend campus in T2 
  • feel that the support and community on offer at Res would benefit their cloud-based learning – for example, those students who don’t have an appropriate online study environment or who don’t feel safe learning from home.

If you think you may fit one of these categories, visit our accommodation website for all you need to know and to apply online.

DeakinRes Wellbeing and Engagement in 2020: Belong to your community, Balance your mind and body, Broaden your horizons

DRS aims to ensure students remain healthy, happy and connected in 2020.


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