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From East Africa to the UK: My Experience of Lockdown

From East Africa to the UK: My Experience of Lockdown  main image

By Elsie

As a Public Health student, I closely followed the COVID-19 pandemic through its initial stages. We actually missed lectures at one point because our lecturer was attending to the situation long before cases were reported in the UK.

The topic is of deep interest to me and I would actively discuss it with friends and fellow students. However, although I understood how infectious the virus was, I could never have pictured the present situation.

After cases were reported in the UK and Scotland specifically, the university emailed announcing the cancellation of lectures and face-to-face meetings. Shortly afterwards, we were told we weren’t supposed to visit our department buildings.

Everything was changing rapidly and the empty shelves in supermarkets induced fear and anxiety. Still, I was content with the fact that the library and gym were open. These two places are my most favorite places at the University of Glasgow.

Unfortunately, they were both closed in no time and immediately the world started shutting down. Lockdown was announced.

At this point, cases in my home country were still very few. Anxiety was kicking in though and I had to get used to the idea of studying in my room and found it very difficult to maintain a routine. I kept looking for updates so fervently that you'd think It was a research activity.

At some point, I found any emails from the university to be overwhelming. However, it was comforting to see how our welfare was a priority and the adjustments being made were remarkable. I missed the library computers and the adjustable seats, the gym, and the free coffee in our department buildings.

I washed my hands frequently and was alert every time I went to get my groceries. Listening to my body every passing minute for any sign of illness became part of the routine too.

Slowly, the new normal started setting in. I cleaned/revived my neglected bike and began cycling around the city in the afternoon. The emptiness of Sauchiehall Street was deafening. Glasgow Green was now actually "green". George Square was so bare and the birds were wondering what had scared everyone away.

I took walks to the Botanic gardens to see the beautiful flowers and all these outdoor activities really helped me to stay afloat.

The number of COVID-19 cases in my country has now increased. We’re also experiencing floods and locusts have been ravaging our fields for some time now. It's really sad but I am hopeful that it shall all come to pass.

On the bright side, I have learned to be very kind to myself. Somedays my productivity levels are high, other days I do nothing but carry on. After all, sometimes just carrying on is super-human.

Interestingly, I now know lots of keyboard shortcuts and have watched lots of documentaries. I’ve even managed to stop obsessively researching the pandemic!

Finally, I’ve accepted that I will most likely work on my dissertation on my computer in my room, an activity that is teaching me a lot.

In the words of my high school principal, "nothing lasts forever, this too shall come to pass".

The #WeAreTogether campaign brings students together from universities across the UK to share their experience of what it’s like to study in the UK during Covid-19. It is a difficult time for international students right now, but universities are here to support them. Follow us on Instagram for tips, advice, and information for current and future international students.

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