Okay, I admit it, maybe going abroad during a pandemic wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had.
The whole world is in a state of calamity right now; it seems as though everyone is descending slowly into madness.
I’ve been living vicariously through others’ social media posts as they photograph their one, government-approved, daily outing. Tell me more. What’s it like outside right now? Is it warm? Is it busy? Do you see many people? What colour are the leaves? Paint a picture for me, I need to know.
“Why haven’t you been outside? You can go outside you know, we aren’t trapped. You’re being such a drama queen…” blah blah blah.
Well, in case you didn’t know, I flew back to the UK last Sunday.
The airports were barren wastelands, it really did feel like I was in the midst of some form of apocalypse.
I could feel numerous sets of eyes staring into my soul as I walked around Geneva airport. I was the only passenger in sight, I didn’t feel like I belonged there at all.
Long story short, I was advised to spend a fortnight in complete isolation. My belongings, including my car, are all in Medway and so here I am.
I’m half way through my current isolation period.
It’s harder than I thought it would be.
Would I recommend travelling during a pandemic? Most definitely not, no. It was stupid to do so. Was it worth it? Well, yes. Look at the cute dog I got to spend my time away with…
This is Johnboy and he's the most precious being on this Earth.
My experiences of this pandemic have been ludicrous to say the least (saving the deets for my portfolio feature piece, sorry) but it’ll undoubtedly make a great story to tell the grandkids.
So here it is: My first week in complete isolation.
Sunday 22nd March
Ah, the day of the return.
Throughout my time abroad I was constantly worried about what was happening in the UK. The situation was progressively worsening and I was genuinely concerned about becoming stranded in Switzerland. I panicked and booked an £159 flight back, an extortionate price considering a flight the following Wednesday was only £38. As cancellations were occurring more often than not, I couldn’t bring myself to wait and book the flight later in the week.
The journey back was surreal. From the extra security at the airport to being on a plane with just three other passengers, it felt like something pulled straight from an apocalyptic movie (someone pitch this to a director somewhere).
Seeing the UK border completely empty was a shock, I hadn’t been taking coronavirus too seriously until that moment.
The severity of the pandemic suddenly hit me.
The train journey back to Medway was a similar story. Less security, which was nice, but it was rare to see another passenger.
I was scared. Knowing that I would be completely alone in Medway was filling me with dread. I wanted to drive home to Scotland straight away but I knew that would be irresponsible, especially as I had just been through two airports. I had already, potentially, put lives at risk by using public transport so I felt compelled to spend my isolation in Liberty Quays. Plus I had no where else to go…
I got back at about 19:00. Shattered, physically and emotionally, I got into bed and stayed there until 6am Monday morning.
Day 1: Monday 23rd March
At this point I was still in my shared flat. As far as I was aware my flatmates had all left for the Easter break, so I didn’t worry too much about not isolating myself further.
I spent the day unpacking, tidying and sorting. Standard post-holiday procedure, if you ask me.
I had free-reign of the whole flat which was an unheard of luxury to me. Being fully clothed was not an option, who was going to stop me?
I was worried about the lack of food in my flat, particularly as I only had some soup and porridge left in my cupboard. I hate to admit that I did ‘borrow’ a profiterole or two from my flatmate… and maybe some milk. I thought they had left for Easter! I couldn’t let it go to waste. I looked at ordering an online shop but that was impossible. Number 64,874 in the queue? No thank you.
I felt happy. I could do this, right?! Two weeks of this would be EASY.
Day 2: Tuesday 24th March
I FaceTimed my family and it really hit home how alone I was. Whilst my friends were, for the most part, spending isolation with their respective families, I was stuck in university accommodation.
It was heart-wrenching to watch other students, with their parents, packing up the car and driving away. I wanted that to be me.
I felt selfish. Some people were in a considerably worse situation than I was and I should have felt lucky that I made it back to the UK in the first place.
We had a group Zoom call which lasted for a few hours. It was nice to see my friends and it felt like I had some form of company for a little while. When the call ended I felt deflated. I cried. I’m not an overly-emotional person and, before then, I couldn’t pinpoint the last time I had been reduced to tears.
Being on strong medication plays a significant part in my lack of expression but I found this outburst of emotion disturbing. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would make it through the remainder of the two weeks. All productivity and motivation had abandoned me and I devoted the rest of the day to chopping down trees and collecting materials for a new shop in Animal Crossing.
Day 3: Wednesday 25th March
I received a message on the flat group chat, which was surprising as I thought they had all moved out. It was asking whether I was in the flat which, of course, I was and whether I was isolating.
The rest of the afternoon is a blur, it happened so quickly.
I contacted Liberty Quays about the fact that my flatmates were returning for a few nights and I was met with concern. We exchanged calls and emails and it was agreed that I would spend the remainder of my isolation in a completely empty flat. I had to move everything I needed over to the new flat as I was not allowed to leave after I’d moved in. I mean, no one was going to stop me… I wasn’t going to be placed under lock and key. It’s just the thought of potentially putting others’ lives at risk; I’d much rather wait out the 14 days in isolation.
What would I need? My laptop, my Switch… What else? Zelda and Animal Crossing would get me through the long nights. Pots, pans, trays… the list just got longer and longer. I took as much as I could to the new flat and settled in for the night.
Day 4: Thursday 26th March
Five days on a prison-diet of watery porridge is as appealing as it sounds. Not at all. I was struggling. It was hard enough not having face-to-face conversation with another human, let alone having to ration out porridge oats. It wasn’t sustainable. I probably could have gone shopping but, again, the thought of putting someone else’s life at risk was enough of a deterrent. I reached out to an absolute legend (thank you thank you thank you) who said they would be able to help me out if I needed anything.
This is my 5th year at university so it’s safe to say that I’ve had the full ‘student experience’. I would never have thought, however, that I would be put in the position of asking one of my lecturers to buy me tampons. Bucket list achievement? Maybe not. I’ve heard of numerous acts of kindness since the lockdown was officially imposed: from people leaving care packages at doors to teachers offering to help parents struggling with homeschooling their children. I’m so appreciative to be on the receiving end of one.
This pandemic has made me soft; when I heard a knock at the front door I leapt from my room and a smile spread across my face. It was a little bizarre having the food delivered by a member of staff wearing an assortment of PPE but I was too happy to care.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
Day 5: Friday 27th March
It’s not a secret that I like sitting on the floor. It’s safe, stable and, well, pretty damn comfortable. If you ever get the chance, definitely give Steve’s or Rob’s office floor a go. Absolute game changers.
After a zoom session, I felt the most productive and motivated that I had felt in days. Maybe I would actually get some work done?!
Crazy if true.
This is how I spent the day. I wish I was joking.
Day 6: Saturday 28th March
Bleh. That’s the only way I can describe how I had started to feel.
I started to miss the little luxuries like a hairdryer and straighteners. I was hungry but I didn’t want any of the food I had, I wanted crisps or chocolate or just something. Cherry Pepsi Max, ugh.
I spent the morning doing HIIT workouts and sourcing online dance classes. I danced from when I was aged 4 to 17 so it was nice to have some fun and let loose a little. Maybe I overexerted myself but it was fun… the evening was spent with frozen veggie burgers on my achilles tendon to try and reduce the swelling.
Day 7: Sunday 29th March
So this brings me to today. I’m sitting in my room, at my desk, with a cup of tea and Animal Crossing.
I tried stretching out this morning which was the biggest mistake in the history of all mistakes. Let’s just say that the veggie burgers made a swift reappearance.
I’m clearly bored, I’m writing a blog post.
This whole experience has been so surreal, though. I often see people walk past my window and I envy their freedom.
My mum falls under the “extremely vulnerable” category so I’m going to have to briefly isolate when I get home as well. It sucks but I want to keep her as safe as possible. I’m just craving interaction with another human that isn’t over Skype or Zoom.
I miss drinking and socialising. I miss the freedom of being able to go for walks along the pier. I miss driving around and singing High School Musical at the top of my lungs (though I can’t exactly remember where I parked my car). It’s hard to say how I feel. Deflated doesn’t seem right. There’s emotion but it’s just there.
I’ve got one week left until my 14-day isolation period is over. It hasn’t been a pleasant experience, being stuck in university accommodation, but I don’t regret travelling.
What gets me the most is having to stay away from my loved ones to keep them safe.