As Covid-19 spreads across the globe, LCC students from many countries are keeping journals of their own experiences and those of their family and friends. Their stories paint a picture of this extraordinary time in the UK, Europe, the Americas, Asia and beyond.
Ally Wan (a student from Hong Kong in Hong Kong)
At 23:59 of 12th April, my compulsory 14-day quarantine officially ended. On 14th, my mum steamed a whole chicken to celebrate. It’s a Chinese tradition. A celebration cannot be completed without an entire chicken. After 14 days in a sealed hotel room alone, I didn’t need to eat the chicken, because anything could make me happy.
“Chiu, I need you to listen to me”, mum paused and cleared her throat. “Stay calm when you hear it”. I sensed something was wrong with the way she started.
“Was it about gran? What happened to her?” My grandma was the first thing came to my mind. She’s 94-year-old and lived with my uncle in mainland China, Guangzhou. She barely stepped out of her home since Chinese New Year in February. We had a chat the week before I flew home from London. She sounded lively, though a bit deaf. She answered in “yes, yes” for anything I said. One of the few long sentences was: “It’s too chaotic to meet now. Let’s meet at the end of the year.” She promised me.
“She passed away last Saturday. Uncle woke up in the morning and didn’t see her. When he checked her bedroom, she was still in bed. Her body was cold.” Mum took a sip of her glass, “By that time, you were halfway through quarantine. I did not want to add pressure on you.”
My gran had always been a spiritual person. She worshipped the Buddha, she believed in the afterlife, she prayed in a Buddhist temple every month. She set guidelines for families to deal with her death way back, 15 years ago. She was not afraid of death.
“I will only die in my hometown, in this house, the house I have been living since I was married. Not the hospital. My body needs to be placed in the centre of the ground floor for the first 24 hours. Buddhist monks from the temple I go to will come and sing sutra alongside my body for those 24 hours. I already paid for the service.” Gran ordered me, the youngest one in the family to monitor the whole process. Perhaps the adults are too busy or sceptical to learn those rules. She walked me through those steps whenever there an elderly person in the neighbourhood passed away.
“Lastly, nobody cries. I can’t go to heaven if anyone drops a single tear for my death.”
Grandma had her plan set for more than a decade ago. She did not plan the Coronavirus.
She died in a different house in a different town, three hours by car from the town my grandma was born and insisted to die at. Due to the lockdown, my uncles were not allowed to enter because they are not regular residents there. Her body has to be burned the same day of the death due to the climate. Her ashes are kept in the crematoria. The collection date is unknown, it says “by the climate is calmed”. None of this ticks gran’s boxes.
“We could have all go and say goodbye if she had hanged longer in there. It was just three hour by car”, my auntie said as put a piece of chicken skin in her mouth. Due to travel ban and social distancing regulations, only two of my uncles were able to see her one last time before she’s burned.
“Gran bought a spot in the cemetery 20 years ago, next to grandpa.” Mum looked at me and said. “We will all be there the day she’s buried,” she paused, “when the coronavirus is over.”
At night, I went to bed and wished I could see grandma one last time in my dream. I curled up and closed my eyes very hard. I heard a voice in my head saying “good girl, you’ve done very well”.
Zonaira Chaudry (Saudi student living in London): Weeks 4 and 5
The Covid-19 crisis seems never ending with a mounting death toll. Usually, I don’t follow disturbing news but, in the hope that something uplifting might turn up on my news feed, I am religiously following the death rate of countries around the world. Unfortunately, it is only adding to the distress. By observing the mortality rate, one wonders what is happening. Why isn’t it being controlled? Since the pandemic outbreak, I now know four people who were affected with varying symptoms and have recovered. A ray of hope.
My friend living in East London tells me that residents are not taking social distances or related guidelines seriously. Crowds with children on a bright sunny day or huge queues outside grocery stores is a common sight and it feels that there is no such thing as a “lockdown”.
On Thursday afternoon, I went to Hyde Park with a friend for our “weekly stroll”. After walking for half an hour, we decided to rest for a while. Just after 20 minutes, a police car approached and nicely informed us that walking, running or exercising is fine, but sitting on the grass “is not an offence but is not legal” (if that makes sense). We were grateful that we didn’t get a fine. Other people were also told by the police vehicle that park sitting is not allowed.
My parents call me from Saudi Arabia every day giving me a list of instructions to follow and constantly nagging me to be more careful. They sound anxious, scared and worried and watching the news adds more to their anxiety, as the UK is one of the worst countries to be hit by the pandemic. To be on the safe side, I am taking more precautions than merely following social distancing and hand washing procedures, such as drinking warm infusions (I have been told it’s a virus killer), taking Vitamin C tablets to boost immunity (out of stock in most pharmacies I visited) and regularly taking orange juice .
Friends outside of London constantly check up on me and ask how things are, how the situation is and do I get food. These are the most common questions I answer.
The lockdown got extended for three more weeks, but I believe it will probably be extended for more time than expected. My housing manager seems to be happy with the lockdown. With a four day weekend who can complain? She believes that it has given us all time to breathe and relax, as London life is overwhelming. One of my friends is “grateful to god” that schools have closed, otherwise she would spend half the time on the roads with her children on school drop offs and pickups. In my student accommodation, a fellow resident wants the lockdown to be over soon, as she wants to explore London on foot. Every person has a different opinion.
My friends back home try to compare the situation in the United Kingdom with our home countries and shockingly ask me why aren’t things better there? One of them even remarked that “doesn’t UK have a world class health system?”, “We got the virus under control in Pakistan, so why are people still dying in London?” and “Why didn’t the UK government take the necessary measures on time like other countries?” I wish I knew the answers to all these questions!
Viktoria Bielawa (Polish student living in London): April 13 – 19
Monday 13th April
Despite it being Easter Monday, I was not feeling festive at all. I spent most of the time feeling sorry for myself and catching up on missed Brooklyn 99 episodes from the comfort of my bed in my pjs in a blacked-out room all day. It was not pretty. I did not want to talk to anyone from my family or friends – as I felt if I even looked at them, I would break down in tears. I know I’m describing as if someone close to me died – thank goodness that was not the case – but I did end up losing someone very special to me because of the lockdown aftermath.
The pandemic and inability to be physically present in certain situations has shown its true colours of over-thinking and paranoia. We have too much time to overanalyse situations, to listen to the dark thoughts, the negatives – because that’s all that we’re surrounded by at this very moment. We truly have to have the willpower and strength to push through these thoughts and work on ourselves to acknowledge the positives happening around us (however scarce they may be) in these bleak conditions. However, for me, today was not the day.
Tuesday 14th – Wednesday 15th April
I woke up feeling like a brand-new person. I decided that one day of wallowing was enough to get myself together and get to work. I started the day with a healthy breakfast of porridge with fresh berries and banana followed by an hourly yoga workout (which involved posting some moves to Instagram – nothing like a few comments from your friends to boots your confidence!). A long hug and a small chat with my mum over a glass of wine was definitely the highlight of my day. She is always so supportive of me, and my #1 fan. She always reminds me of my own strength, ability and ambition. I definitely needed that.
I then started to work on my long-overdue essay for my class, and I have to say I was more productive than I have been in the last few weeks. I felt like I gained a new perspective and finally got my mojo back, so I rode that train of energy to late hours past midnight and into the following day. Considering that classes are starting this week, I was definitely pleased to finally have some motivation to work, to write and to take some new photographic images. Despite the load of work sprung on me from the very first day, I finally feel back to my normal pre-quarantine self.
Thursday 16th April
Today I received extremely good news – I got offered a new job opportunity! Something that I definitely needed after the horrendous and mopey start to this week. What a better way to boost your self-worth, than to have your hard work acknowledged?
Needless to say, I had quite a few glasses of “celebratory wine” in the evening with my friends and parents. It was a good day, to say the least.
Friday 17th April
So, the high of motivation and productivity disappeared today. As quick as it came, it was even quicker to disappear. The more I tried to concentrate on my lectures and essay, the more I felt like I was going to fall asleep. I struggled so much to keep focused on my notes, but it got to the point where I was reading the same page over and over again without realising and understanding what I’m reading. I must have been stuck on it for good 30 mins before I realised “Have I turned the page?” and decided to let my mind have a break for a while.
I have to mention – I did not succeed in getting it back. Instead, I had a very good chat with my friends on FaceTime over a game of Cards Against Humanity online and some Friday night drinks.
Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th April
A lot has happened this week and I have been through a roller-coaster of emotions for various reasons. Yet, despite all that, I finally feel like I am settled in this ‘new normal’ – virtually returning to university and lectures definitely had something to do with it. I have stopped watching the news, as I am sick of the negativity and hearing all the same things over and over again. I have set up a newsfeed on my laptop, where I get all the information relevant to me about the pandemic, amongst other things, like mindfulness, exercise and stories relating to the change of the fashion and creative industries. I thought it would be better for me to be exposed to the media I choose to know about. Of course I want to stay-in-the-know about most of the pandemic effects on health, economy and global development of the situation, but too much negativity of the news brings a person down and there is just so much one can cope with at the moment.
Stay safe everyone,
Sylphia Basak (Canadian student in Toronto): April 6-17
I wasn’t entirely sure what to write about for these last two weeks because every day feels the same. I’ve found myself falling into a routine for what feels one very long day. The most exciting addition to my life has been starting classes and actually having to wake up ridiculously early to attend them, given that London is five hours ahead of Toronto. But, now, that I have a rough daily schedule, I thought I might share it. So here is what Mondays look like for me now:
4:30am- wake up and try and log on to Moodle without any technical difficulties (unsuccessful)
6:00-6:30am- force myself to get out of bed, then brush my teeth
6:45-9:00am- hang out in the kitchen because this is the only time no one else is in there. I might read, I’ll definitely play music out loud but I’ll also probably make breakfast for myself during this time
9:00-11:00am- scroll through my phone/nap to make up for the lack of sleep
11:00-1:00pm- force myself to exercise (maybe) take a shower and get dressed in one of the same three outfits I’ve been wearing (this also involves going through my phone). Sometimes, I’ll practice guitar
1:00-2:00pm- probably have lunch
2:30ish-6:00ish- my daily walk takes place anywhere around this time and can be anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours
7:00-8:30pm- dinner, longer or shorter depending whether I feel like actually cooking or not
9:00-whenever I feel tired- more guitar and reading, probably end up watching a movie with either my brother or friends over FaceTime
At some point, I’ll incorporate actually doing schoolwork into my routine, but my deadlines are not quite looming yet. This week, my friend moved in directly across the street so, if I want to talk to someone, I can literally give her a shout. I’ve also managed to give myself three tattoos and re-read Harry Potter for what feels like the 800th time.
As for Canada as a whole, I’m delighted to say the number of cases is slowly but surely decreasing. We, of course, still have to be vigilant, and social distancing is something we’re going to have to practice for a while. However, it’s nice to hear some positive news regarding the virus, for once.
Mathilda Frotscher (German student in Hamburg): Week 5 – : April 10–17
So, first things first. Hairdressers in Germany are opening up from the 4th of May. It’s astonishing how much of a topic this is, right? For another 17 days, the desperation is going to continue growing on our heads and we’re going to experience more dramatic bolding moments.
My hairdresser is definitely not what I miss the most being in lockdown, since I only pay her two visits per year anyway (sorry at this point, Regina, please don’t hate me).
What I am craving is the simple feeling of freedom, even though I didn’t even feel specifically free before the pandemic; once again, becoming visible: appreciation comes in the hard times.
My life situation has changed drastically between returning to Hamburg a month ago and now. I am living the life I used to live when I was 16. What I miss is being an independent adult that has a plethora of options and possibilities in life, whether it’s about how much I speak to my family, where I work-out or which food I buy. That’s all changed and limited now.
The other big factor is that I don’t get to spend any time with my boyfriend. I developed a game in order to not become too frustrated about that, using my love for sayings and word games. I can really recommend it! Try and create sentences such as ‘My love for Carina is stronger than Corona.’
Or ‘F*** the virus, I am still seeing my Cyrus.’ Virus, Cyrus, very pretty, really. ‘Covid is a pain, my David isn’t.’ As you can see -I could do this forever. Brings serenity into the seriousness!
Speaking of serenity and appreciation – why don’t we put the question the other way around? What do I enjoy the most whilst being in lockdown? Time seems to be slowing down and that makes it possible to reconnect with my inner self like I haven’t in a long time. Body, mind and soul are becoming one unity again because they are listening to each other.
A similar process is happening for the Federal Republic of Germany. Chancellor Merkel said the following: “We have reached a level of uniformity that is almost a miracle in a federal system.” She said that right after the federal and state governments found agreements on topics such as school re-openings or big events such as the Oktoberfest.
She is regarding this not only to the Corona virus but also to two incidents Germany experienced in the last week. Firstly, the German stock exchange failed for almost five hours on Easter Monday, which also affected the stock exchange in Malta, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and other places because they are using the German trading system. Another big agitation for Germany was the arrest of five men who came as refugees from Tajikistan and are part of the IS. 50 heavy-armed police officers stormed a suspected cell of the terrorist militia in North Rhine-Westphalia, because these men are being accused of having scouted two American military bases in Germany and were planning a murder on a specific Islam critic.
It’s impressive how both issues were being solved elegantly before they could cause serious harm. Germany is really not one country with one government but 16 countries with 16 governments. And it’s definitely a challenge to get them all to agree on certain elements! Similar to my brain and my body, haha.
Ana Rosário (Portuguese living in London): April 14 and 17
14th April (Tuesday)
It has now officially been a month since I’ve closed myself at home to protect myself from others and others from myself. This month has consisted three and a half books and three and a half balls of yarn (I have now put my scarf project on a small hiatus due to an annoying back pain), one movie per week, half of an online French course and who knows how many albums and TV shows (if this quarantine goes for much longer, I will have finished the whole of Netflix shows catalogue by the end of this). Such a coincidence that the only month that hasn’t had a single day of rain since I moved here is exactly the month when people cannot leave their houses.
It has been such a weird long month. If before I was happy that internet and phones were a thing that existed and kept us in contact no matter how far we are, now I am absolutely thankful of it! I don’t if my sanity would be the same without my daily call to my parents (which I do ever since I moved away for college, but now has tripled or quadrupled in duration), the occasional video calls with my friends or the group chat(s) debating if Carol Baskin really killed her second husband (she did!).
Also doing all of this from afar really puts in perspective how differently the situation has been dealt back home in Portugal and the country I live in now. While back home people were starting their quarantines, here people were still living their normal lives. While there the President was declaring State of Emergency with a rather small number cases and practically non-existential number of deaths, here the Prime Minister was talking about “herd immunity” with numbers growing faster and faster each day. Probably one of the few things in common: panic buying! I guess the need to hoard toilet paper really was universal.
While I would wish that, a month for now, I would have finished this diary for the best reasons, it is very likely that I will also be doing a retrospective of two months of quarantine. But I have hopes that I won’t get to the three months one!
17th April (Friday)
It rained properly rained today! I guess after a month of a weird, foreign weather, the UK is back to its cloudy and rainy colours. I’m going to miss having my clothes fully dry on the same day I washed them.
It was my mum’s birthday today and that meant a “party” over video call. I ate a mini cupcake on my window of the call and my brother a pack of cookies on his to celebrate (or just for a daily dose of sugar). My dad did a little MTV Cribs-style tour to our house to make sure we don’t forget it and my mum showed the drawings some of her pupils left at the door as birthday gifts.
I’m now very excited for the end of the quarantine, as my dad promised we would all get pissed drunk when we get back together. This will is quite big since it will be the first time it happens (if it does, but I’m hopeful). My mum says the will stay sober to take care of us, but, knowing my father and my brother, they’ll probably make sure there will not be a sober soul in the house.
That was the second celebration deal of the week. The first was made with some friends over another video call. We set a party video call to celebrate the end of the master degree thesis of one of my friends on the end of the month. It would be so good to get everyone together on the same call.
I guess, since my days are not really that different from one another, it is nice to hold on to the little changes of routine. On Wednesday, for example, my landlady and I went shopping at the same time so we walked together. It was the first time I saw that it was apply the rule of only one person per group enters the shop. Not everyone was happy though. A man insisted that he had to enter Sainsbury’s with his wife and stalled the queue, annoying everyone behind him. The store manager even had to be called outside, like she currently didn’t have bigger stresses in her job than a grown man throwing a tantrum…
But, in a bit of happier news, some countries are starting to register a decrease in new daily numbers. I still don’t consider it a “light at the end of the tunnel”. However, I think it might mean that we might be halfway through that tunnel, at least.
Anna Komitska (Bulgarian student living in London): Week 5
The UK has extended lockdown for at least another three weeks. According to Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, this is necessary in order to prevent the spread of the virus, which would otherwise lead to a second peak of the pandemic. In my native country, the Bulgarian government continues its efforts to instil fear and panic. The campaign is supposed to appeal to residents to obey the rules unless they would want ‘to force refrigerated lorries to take away the corpses.’
Aside from announcing the lockdown’s extension, the news have also reported that a new app could help stop coronavirus if enough current smartphone owners used it. The app would allow users to self-diagnose and send alerts to people they had recently been in close proximity to. Thursday evenings continue to be a chance for the nation to express their collective gratitude to NHS workers by gathering to clap at 8PM on their porches and balconies. A heart-warming article I came across this past week reported on war veteran Captain Tom Moore, 99, who completed his bid to raise money for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before he turned 100. It was announced that he managed to raise nearly £19m. It was Capt. Moore’s message of hope and stoicism that I found inspiring. It was, nevertheless, disappointing to presume that the government is not doing enough to fund the NHS and the country would have to resort to an online challenge and a centenarian soliciting the support of the rich.
In Bulgaria, the government decided to shut down all open markets and blamed owners that they had failed to ensure that customers queue at an appropriate distance from one another. Agriculture is perhaps the only well-established type of production and main source of economic growth in my country. Many suggested that the step had been taken so as to ensure that small producers do not challenge big supermarket chains. Farmers were worried that tons of fresh produce would be wasted and that their only income would be irreversibly taken away from them. Similarly to previous regulations, the decision to close the markets was also retracted a couple of days after it had been introduced. People have allegedly been following the rules on social distancing, despite the government arguing against it.
Government officials have further announced that they have submitted a request for the country to become a member of the Eurozone. For years, it had been argued that the country’s economy is not ready to join the monetary union, as this would mean that the costs of living would be at least doubled and the current average salary would be insufficient to cover basic needs. The current political decision has allegedly been made because Eurozone members receive extra financial support in the fight against corona virus. One could question the long-term viability of such rash resolution of the present crisis.
A new wave of Covid-19 patients has emerged, reported predominantly in districts populated by gypsies. Thousands had come back home from Western countries, where they traditionally seek employment, to be reunited with their families. Last night, it was decided that all movement to and from Sofia will be seized. People are expressing their anxieties with regards to the new measures, arguing that they are reaching a point where basic freedoms are being repressed by force. It makes one wonder how long it will be before the nation raises its concerns with the EU Parliament.
I have no news to report from my house – supermarket shelves are very rarely empty, my living room is still basking in the continuous sunshine, and I do my best to keep my mind occupied. Our tutors have informed us that we will be expected to return to university a month later than usual following the summer term – in October, depending on ‘the situation’ and this has yet to be confirmed.
Dina Zubi (Norwegian student in Oslo): April 13-16
I went for a walk today with some friends and discovered that two of them have shaved off almost all of their hair. I’ve read quite a few articles about the increase of people shaving their heads during lockdown, but didn’t realise that it applied to a few of my friends as well. I suppose it’s a good time to try something new and, if you’re not happy with it, you could always grow it out before everything opens back up again. I think people also might do it because they are getting a bit restless. I know I am at least.
Term has started again, and after our two first video lectures, it is clear that these next months are going to be very different as a student. I’m missing the spontaneous discussions and questions that really only happen when we are in a room all together. There have also been quite a few technical difficulties which also contribute to making the sessions a bit chaotic. Since we are in such an unprecedented situation, I respect that no one really has the perfect solution. So, I suppose we just have to make do with the current solutions that we have.
Today was such a nice, warm day. It almost felt like summer. I went for a picnic with some friends and that made it seem almost like a normal day, pre-virus. I’m so grateful that we are able to do things like that here, for now at least. Though it’s so nice to be outdoors and around friends, it almost makes me feel a bit guilty, even though we aren’t breaking any rules or regulations. There were a lot of people in the park and, although people try their best to keep a distance and follow the health government’s advice, it seems less serious somehow when everyone is outside enjoying themselves.
The Norwegian health authorities have released a new app that is supposed to track your movements and notify you if you’ve been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive to the coronavirus. Though this app would make it easier to monitor the spread of the virus, a lot of people have expressed concerns about privacy and data collection. The government maintains that all data will be deleted after 30 days and that you can delete it yourself at any point as well. I’ve yet to download the app myself, but I’ve never really been very concerned about data privacy (though perhaps I should be), so I might download it if that’s the official recommendation. It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference.
Natalia Zmarzlik (Polish student living in London): April 10-16
First time in my life I have to say that I’m glad my family is not a big fan of Easter. With that said, I’m not feeling sad because we will spend it separately.
Today was the 10th anniversary of Smolensk catastrophe, in which nearly 100 Polish politicians died, the president and his wife included. They were on their way to Katyń, in Russia, for a formal remembrance of what happened there during the World War II. Regardless of the pandemic and the self-isolation regulations, a group of over 20 politicians (mostly from the leading party) met in front of the monument dedicated to the victims of that catastrophe to commemorate them, explaining the reason of that gathering as a ‘formal, work meeting’.
Taking into consideration that the head of the leading party in Poland lost his twin brother and his sister-in-law in that accident, the public was outraged. Many argued that the meeting was unnecessary in current circumstances. That the politicians are not giving the right example to the Poles and that, after what people have seen in the TV (of course it has been broadcasted by the national TV station), they might simply do the same and start going out in bigger groups. Some were even joking that different laws apply for those in power and for ‘the rest’.
The weather was beautiful today, clear sky, over 20ºC and the Sun getting into my room from outside. I know that perfect weather is not a reason to leave the house during the pandemic, so I moved my desk to the middle of the room. By doing this, I could spend the whole day working and looking outside the window. I’m not sure if it helped me increase my productivity, but it made me feel better.
I watched the interview with a man who is running a company focused on tourism and he was explaining how the current situation with COVID-19 affected his business. I was aware that everything is going down, that some industries will struggle a lot with getting back to ‘normal’ and that they will lose a lot of money, but hearing that from a single person’s perspective helped me understand the issues we, as a society, will have to deal with even better after ‘Corona time’.
I’m neither religious nor a fan of Easter but, out of a sudden, at 11PM I felt the need to do some ‘pre-Easter’ cleaning, so I ended up sorting and folding clothes in my wardrobe. I am not a big fan of cleaning either, so I made sure I didn’t waste that ‘mood’ and I cleaned all my winter shoes too.
First time in a month I’ve done my make-up. I dressed up in my favourite summer dress, I called my auntie and then I had a video-call/breakfast with my parents. Nothing too fancy, nothing we wouldn’t have on a regular Sunday morning. But it really made me feel better and lifted me up. We were even discussing where we’ll be going for a city break whenever it becomes possible and what we’ll be doing in our countryside house – the only place in the world where I can fully relax.
I can’t believe I’m writing that, but I really gave myself a bit of leeway today. I spent the day watching a series and then reading a book with calm music in the background. It was a much-needed rest.
Easter Monday – for this occasion, I did a solid workout and then spent over 12h
in front of my laptop’s screen. One day spent, not to say wasted, on resting was enough
to motivate me to come back to work on my full speed.
I took some time to list a couple of little things I miss the most from ‘pre-Corona times’: drinking the same black coffee, from the same reusable cup in one of three Prets I used
to visit, daily walks, even the shortest ones, pretending I’m not overspending on stationery in my local TK Maxx, buying fruits and vegetables in my favourite Food & Vine and its owner always telling me off for not paying with cash. All these little things that
I will treat as the biggest treasures as soon as I’ll get them back.
It was an eventful day. Never ending phone calls, emails piling up in both of my mailboxes and a never ending to-do list. I love days like that.
For the first time I had my online uni lecture and it is nothing like the class we would have offline – no jokes, no stories about what happened during the spring break, no more
of sharing plans for the last few weeks of second year. I’m not even sure how I’ll manage to create a valuable piece of journalism for the assessment based on primary research, when I’m still unable to freely leave the house. Even though my tutors are clearly doing their best, there still are more questions than answers.
Also, today was the first time I thought of changing my job. I do like what I’m doing; I think I’m good in it. I’m not going to lie, while I’m still at uni, it’s good to have a job that is not mentally demanding and I can focus my full attention to self-development. But the idea of meeting so many people I don’t know every day makes me feel anxious. Is it a negative outcome of Corona that I am ultra-suspicious towards strangers I keep the distance whenever possible – seems like it?
I read some news from Poland and I couldn’t believe what I’ve seen. One woman wrote
a project to the government to debate about restricting the abortion law in Poland to the point where it becomes illegal in all possible cases. I thought we had that public discussion already. Thousands of women (men too!!) were protesting dressed in black and with black umbrellas on the streets to stop the project in 2017 and now, in the times of pandemic, we are not allowed to go and do it again.
It is beautiful to see how many influential people and regular Instagram users are sharing Insta Stories with symbols, illustrations, words of support and disagreement to what is currently happening in Poland. But not only on the Internet actions are being taken; posters in windows, black umbrellas on the balconies, people queuing in front of grocery stores holding posters and leaflets. It really is uplifting for me to see people uniting in such a valuable cause. What’s devastating is looking at how the current leading party is taking advantage of the pandemic to force their ‘revolutionary’ projects. And there is no one to stop them.
The company I am working for went into administration. I got that information before, but reading about it in all major newspapers made me realize what happened and what the consequences might be.
For a workaholic like me, even thinking about not having a job is chilling and overwhelming. I have been working too hard and too long for what I have now, and I am not happy to lose it, especially if what happened is not my fault.
For a few weeks, I have been looking for motivation do go one step further and start
a LinkedIn Learning tools. In these circumstances, I feel like the motivation found me.
I went to Sainsbury’s today and, for the first time, I’ve seen a little poster in front of the shelf with crisps saying that customers are not allowed to purchase more than 3 items from that section at a time. I had no idea that the demand for these products is that huge.
Streets were emptier than a week ago. Way emptier. No more people chilling on the benches outside the police station, no more cyclists, no more chatting on the streets. I feel like people finally understood the seriousness of the situation and decided to stay at home. Well done everyone!
I got a bit nostalgic today and I caught myself at thinking about my innocent high-school years back in Poland, when adult life wasn’t knocking to my doors yet. It hit me even harder now, during the lockdown, when I cannot use the same methods as before to make myself feel better – walks. I always was a big big fan of walking and now, when leaving the house unnecessarily is prohibited, I started missing it even more.
I saw a lot of people posting on Instagram where they will go and what they’ll be doing after the lockdown is over, dreamy holiday destinations, fanciest places we all can think of. And me? I will take myself for the longest walk I’ve ever had and then if the circumstances would be right, I will take myself back home for a few days, it’s been
Eve Hebron (Welsh student in Llandudno): April 13-16
Monday 13th April 2020
Today is another sunny day. It’s extremely appealing, particularly due to the fact it is a holiday in the UK. Normally, the town’s beaches would be crammed with tourists, the parks full of families setting out picnic blankets. But not today. Today the sun must be appreciated from a distance, so I decide to make banana bread (hopping onto the band wagon a week or so late). Before I know it, it’s almost 5pm and I share the baked goods with my family who are happy to sample. Another day down, I think.
Tuesday 14th April 2020
It’s the first day of the summer term at university, and I’m logging into my computer for a Blackboard session from my teenage bedroom in Wales. A very different scenario to what I would have envisaged six weeks ago. I miss physically being at university, the college environment is exciting and inspiring and not having access to that, despite being nobody’s fault, seems unfair. But I suppose this is the perfect time to think outside the box.
Wednesday 15th April 2020
I wake up to a text from a friend, who informs me that “all of this could last until 2022.” I’m not necessarily shocked by this, but accepting such an idea still feels like a punch to the stomach. As someone who loves live music and attending festivals, knowing that events could be one of the final realities to return to normal feels unimaginable right now. It is a bizarre realisation, coming to terms with the fact the life you knew before this scenario may never return to normal. But perhaps this is the time to figure out how our previous lives could be altered for the better in the future.
Thursday 16th April 2020
Another sunny day invites me out for a walk along the promenade. There is a sea mist, and it smells like spring. I feel so fortunate to be able to go for a walk along the beach. Tt feels like such a freedom in comparison to those who don’t have access to such a thing, or in comparison to my French friends, who must write a declaration every time they leave the house. I must remember that I’m lucky to have the sunshine and the sea.
Iona Gibson (Scottish student living in Canterbury): April 17
When you have too much of something, you take it for granted. One cold day reignited my appreciation for being safe inside. The previous week of sunny days had stolen it. Four months of winter ended overnight, as if to mock the UK’s ‘stay at home’ laws. But consider this: America is five times the population of the UK, yet it only has twice the death rate. The British public should be ashamed of their response to the situation, and take matters more seriously. Too bad people are more interested in the new iPhone SE which was released last Wednesday. There is a lot of hype surrounding the fact it costing half as much makes it an ‘affordable’ version of the other iPhones, even though the price reflects compromised specs. Are we supposed to thank Apple for honing in on the global economic crisis and social need for technological supplementation?
Or does technology have the ability to return humanity to people? In some ways, we have relied on our screens to sustain certain relationships, be it personal, professional, or both. But it seems that people are reaching out to those they had otherwise forgotten, or perhaps had never taken a moment to reach out to before. The torch of interaction is not only being passed on, but re-ignited. The open door of the web is finally being walked through. New grounds are being internet-explored. Then again, it can be demoralising realising my literal position within this space. Even if I am occupying my time socially, I am still alone. The being alone part doesn’t bother me, but the fact that I am restricted to being alone does.
Lecturers are taking a similar hit. It is not only students who miss the classrooms. Yesterday was my first online lesson. It was a learning experience unlike any other. At the end of it all, I was left with a bitter afterthought: students are treating their teachers as objects of learning rather than people. Yes, everything is confusing, frustrating, demotivating. But these feelings are everyone’s to share. In any institution, decisions take time to make because solutions have to work their way to the top of the hierarchy of stakeholders and it is rare for unanimous agreement in times of crisis. We look to each other for answers, yet, at the same time, no one takes the initiative to speak up. We are all afraid of being wrong, of admitting fault. We are all just people.
Businesses are wounded, bleeding money. If only people were given the clarity they needed to understand why they’ve lost their jobs, perhaps it would be easier to accept. That is the situation I am in. I want to make being let go easy on everyone involved in the arrangement, but I also have a duty to let those same people know how their decision will affect my stability, my future. Or maybe I will continue pondering whether or not the staggered end to this surreal lifestyle will result in a boozy street flood of anti-social distancing. Thinking about the return to normality is strange and my ‘dreams’ have vividly reflected my fears around all the possibilities. In the meantime, I will enjoy how the silence of human activity has enhanced all other sound. Something random I’ve noticed is that the Canterbury Cathedral rings at 20:54pm (BST) every night. Not sure what that’s about, but, then again, not sure what anything is about these days. Chartered flights bringing Romanian farm workers to the UK really goes to show that no overarching Brexit threat or ongoing pandemic has persuaded British people to pick their own fruit. So why would they follow their own laws?
I have not left my house in a month. For every passing day in lockdown, this new reality becomes less and less peculiar. Or perhaps there is a global desensitisation to the fact cases have suddenly surpassed 2 million. The Alice in Wonderland effect is taking place.
Feautured image by Ilse Blanquet.