Piece One: Diary of a York student Before the Lockdown
This week was a good week. In fact, it was a great week. We’ve come to week 9 of the second semester of my second year. Now, while I’m not the best at executing plans, I absolutely adore making them. Planning my week, planning my day, planning (and hosting) events with friends. It’s extremely satisfying to work towards something, even if it doesn’t always go to plan. The reason why this week was a good week was because I finally had a routine in my week that I enjoyed, challenged me and gave me something to work towards.
Sunday: Every Sunday, I go to the sainsburys down the road and I buy fresh ingredients for whatever I’m batch-making that week. As this week was fajita-week (which is my favourite week, but you can have too much of a good thing so I try to limit myself), I bought fresh mushrooms, peppers and spinach. It makes my week a whole lot easier if I have something ready to grab when I’m hungry or tired, and Mexican food is my favourite food anyway.
Monday: Every Monday I have either one or two lectures. This week it was one. I woke up early, got ready and went to Campus West for my English lecture. While it was a resolution to not take the bus every day to campus and instead try to walk it, as usual I was running late. So I got to my lecture (on time, thankfully) took my notes and went to the library for an hour or two. I had an essay due the next week and a meeting with my tutor. I had been really indecisive about my essay and it was only the week before that I had decided what to write on. So I had a lot of planning to do. Around 2pm, I left the library and went home to eat lunch. I relaxed for a bit and then went to my HIIT class at 5.45pm. I had been going for some weeks now, and I always felt better knowing that every Monday was HITT class day. This time, I had invited my friend who was also into fitness. This was one of the reasons that made this week a great week. After the HIIT class we did some exploring, and went to Central Hall. We’d noticed the stairs there before but never realised we could walk them. So we did. It was sunset, the campus was quiet and you could hear the lake running. It was such a special moment to spend with my friend and the view was beautiful. What a great start to the week.
Tuesday: I had a meeting with my tutor about my essay and I was in a much better place. I spent the day planning my essay in the library, on the top floor of Morell. I had, quite surprisingly, got a lot of work done and so I went home without the usual dread and dissatisfaction that I had when I did not accomplish much.
Wednesday: Wednesdays were my favourite days. I was part of a dance team and we would be performing at the Dance Society Spring Showcase at the end of this week. We had started practicing from Week 1 and it was one of the highlights of the term. Spending two and a half hours just dancing, hanging out with friends, cracking jokes. I got to meet new people that I would never usually be able to, and learn about people from all walks of life. We recorded our progress each week, and today was our final practice before a dress run on Friday. I’d say it was our best practice yet.
Thursday: Thursday’s I usually didn’t have anything on, except for my LFA French class at 6pm. Usually, my classes changed every semester, but it’s been nice to have something regular for the whole year that I knew wouldn’t change. Even if the actual class is quite difficult (I have a love-hate relationship with French).
Friday: I still had some research to do for my assignments, so I did that. I usually did another HIIT class on Fridays, so I went to that. I also had my dress run for the showcase, so I went to that. All in all, a good Friday.
Saturday: Today was the day of the Showcase. We were all so nervous, but so excited. We had a dress run earlier in the morning at Central Hall, and the showcase was that evening. It went so well: we all felt that it was our best performance to date and it went down even better than expected. It was amazing seeing the other dances, everyone was so talented! Afterwards, we went to Courtyard to celebrate. Our team gets along really well, but it’s different socialising during practice when you only have a spare moment or so to chat, to talking casually over food. I’ll always treasure that night, sitting in Courtyard, drinking cocktails and really getting to know my friends better.
Sunday: This week was pasta week. Time for another trip to Sainsburys, I reckon.
An image of Campus East as I came home from the library one day
An image of Campus West from Central Hall after our HIIT class
Piece Two: Diary of a York student During the Lockdown
This week was not a good week. In fact, it was a bad week. Let me tell you my routine:
Sunday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Sleep.
Monday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Sleep.
Tuesday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Stress about upcoming assignments. Not get any sleep.
Wednesday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Continue to stress about upcoming assignments. Not get any sleep.
Thursday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop to forget about upcoming assignments. Sleep.
Friday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Sleep.
Saturday: Wake up. Eat. Go on my laptop. Sleep.
The worst thing about being in lockdown is the uncertainty. What can we do? What can’t we do? What are the risks of going out just to go grocery shopping? Living with high-risk family members constantly makes me worry every time we go out. Having assignments to complete is an added level of stress. I have none of the resources or help I would usually have available. That’s academia though. I have none of the support networks I would usually have either. Talking via video or phone calls isn’t the same as face-to-face interaction. I miss seeing my friend’s faces in person, reading their body language and hearing them speak for myself, rather than through an unreliable internet connection. I miss having a routine. I miss my weekly HIIT classes. I miss going to lectures and seminars and engaging my brain intellectually. I miss going to the library and feeling productive. I miss walking through Campus West and the change of environment. Strangely, I even miss the geese. Now, all the days blur together. I don’t have a desk at home, so I’m relegated to sitting on my bed to do my work. It’s hard not having a separation between work and home life. I tried to make a timetable so I could plan and organise my days, but it was difficult finding the motivation to stick to it. I like to have things to look forward to each week, be it something I’m planning on making; a meeting with a friend or a particular subject I’m looking forward to learning. But as lockdown progresses, it’s become easier to adapt to this new way of life. My department has been extremely accommodating and I find that I’m not as stressed about work as I was before. Online learning has been surprisingly fun as a new way of learning and teaching. I still stress about my assignments, but I know that my safety net score will go a long way in assuaging those fears. Now, I’ve mentioned that I like routines and making lists. So here’s a new list of positives that have come from the lockdown (always better to end on a high note!):
- Spending time with my family
- Learning (or rather, relearning) a new hobby: embroidery
- Becoming pen pals with my friend and writing letters to each other every week
- A Tesco employee giving my Mum flowers on her birthday
- Finding a strange looking tree I had never seen before but has now become my favourite tree
- Cooking for my family and planning our first family BBQ
- Catching up on my favourite Korean drama
- Starting a blog
My new favourite tree
My first piece of embroidery after 6 years
Flowers a Tesco employee gave my Mum the day of her birthday
Piece Three: Diary of York student After the Lockdown
This week was a strange week. Strange, but amazing. I’m starting to get some semblance of a routine back, which is nice. But it’s strange now, going outside and seeing everyone wear masks. Hand-sanitizer stations are now commonplace and following a one-way system in a supermarket has become instinctual. I imagine it won’t take long to get used to, but it got me thinking about what the future would look like, and how things would work. But we’ll save the existential questions for later.
This week, I had planned some outings with some friends, not to mention I was travelling back to York to collect some of my things (side note: when I was preparing to go back home for Easter, I knew we’d face some sort of lockdown. However, I thought it would end quickly. Thus, I only bought home my extensive hoody collection and none of my tops. As lockdown progresses, the weather gets hotter and I get increasingly annoyed at my past self’s lack of foresight.). My first outing post-lockdown was a picnic in the park with three friends. The first thing we asked each other was not “how are you?” or “how have you been?” but rather, “are you still social-distancing?” That was the first indicator of this new world post-lockdown. Regardless, it was extremely special to sit down with friends and catch up. To actually see their faces and hear them talk, and enjoy melted chocolate bars together. Even though it was extremely windy, and my hat flew away more times than I care to admit, I wouldn’t change a thing about that day. It was nice to see faces different from the ones I’ve seen for the past three months day in, day out.
The next day, I went back to York with my sister. I was extremely wary about travelling on a train cross-country. I was meticulous with wearing my mask and sanitizing my hands. However, it was extremely comforting seeing York station and the Minster as we walked out. I shared with my sister my favourite Korean takeaway place and my favourite fudge shop, both of which I had been craving from the moment I left York. However, when we got back to my house, I found something else strange, and I shared this sentiment with my sister: “I’ve lived here for around 8 months now, but it doesn’t feel familiar to me at all.” I was at home and I wasn’t. I feel comfortable in this space and I didn’t. It was difficult to reconcile the two feelings. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being in a different space for a while, coming back to my second home and collecting my much-missed summer clothes. I should mention at this point that a few days prior, I had received my results for second year. I was both happy and annoyed. I had been given my safety net score, and while I was glad for it as it was a very good mark, it felt a little bit demotivating because it felt like it negated a lot of my hard work during what was a stressful and unpredictable time. However, I managed to get over this feeling quite quickly: we were in a global pandemic after all.
I had also planned a trip to the beach with another friend this week. Again, I was extremely wary about travelling on a train to a beach of all places. Luckily, it was a bit of a windy day and so wasn’t as packed as we thought it would be. This was my first trip to the beach since I was 12, and I was extremely happy to visit one again, especially with a friend. Something about walking on a long (1.33 miles exactly) pier with someone, talking and listening to the sea is extremely therapeutic. We sat for a while at the end of the pier with our hot drinks. Just talking. Just listening. Just seeing. Something that I had not appreciated much until the lockdown had happened. Something that I will appreciate more as we come out of lockdown.
A view of the beach as my friend and I walked down the pier.