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Lan's Journey in Lockdown

BE Education

2021/03/22
Lan's Journey in Lockdown

Background:

UCL

2019.9-2020.9: MSc Risk and Disaster Reduction Science, Public health pathway

2020.9-2024.9: PhD Risk and Disaster Reduction Science, Public health pathway

 

It has been a year since the first COVID-19 Lockdown in March 2020 in the UK. As a Chinese student staying in London over the whole period, maybe I can share some of my insights and experiences with those students in China who are still debating whether to study here or not, or those who are also struggling in the UK now——you are not alone.

 

Let's start by running through the major changes in the environment and my life over the past 12 months.

 

March 2020:

Life was normal at the beginning of March. Our department organized a fieldtrip to the Thames River in the earlier March, and I participated in a series of activities including Careers & Opportunities Evening, Alumni Event and Humanitarian Evening Conference. I also completed two course presentation with my teammates, which are my last memory in campus. 

 

The last fieldtrip before the lockdown

 

The last offline presentation, earlier March 2020

 

However, since the end of March, all of the universities were closed and many international students chose to fly back to their home countries. At that time, air ticket price increased more than ten times. Suddenly, all the classes and activities moved to online. It was the first time for me to do the online presentation. Nearly all the teachers and students are muddled by the technology issues of Teams and Zoom.

 

Camden Street, late March 2020

 

April:

It was the first Easter holiday under the lockdown with all non-essential shops closed and long queues outside every grocery. We just locked ourselves in our room and try to finish the essays and reports before the deadline. Gradually, I realized that it might be better to go home, but there was no flight.

 

Camden Street, Easter Holiday 2020

 

Healthcare package from Chinese Embassy, 12th April

 

May:

It seems that we are almost adapted to this new life——staying at home every day. All the exams have been changed into essays and reports. The uni has issued a series of measures to improve students' study and life, including Financial support of up to 3,000 pounds. In order to reduce the impact of the epidemic on their studies, UCL implemented extenuating circumstances policy for the students who need to extend their deadlines. Most of my classmates also changed their master project topic because they could not do fieldtrip, and they also got a one-month extension.

 

June:

I focused on my master thesis. My friend faced with mental health problem because of the pandemic, she worried about anything and struggling with the insomnia. She asked our department and got help from mental health professional teams. Under their help, she got well gradually and became energetic again.

 

July-August:

The lockdown had been eased. It was also the sunniest time in the UK, with parks and beaches packed with people, and I started my travelling alone plan to Brighton, Surrey park and Turkey. Our lives seemed to have returned to normal.

 

Dove Cliff, Brighton, July 2020

 

Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, August 2020

 

Fethiye, Mugla, Turkey, August 2020

 

September:

The postgraduate students were around to graduate, everyone was saying goodbye to each other, and most of my friends chose to go back to China, although they still need to pay 3-4 times of the air ticket and the cost of the quarantine hotel. Some of them chose to extend their programme, but encountered visa problems. After communicating with the college, those have been solved. There is a lot of students got distinction this year, most of us are very happy. This is probably the most positive effect of the pandemic.

 

October:

I began my PhD tour. Since these is no classmate, teacher and family, and all things need to be completed by myself, I spent much time to adapt to this big change. With regard to the outside world, although primary and secondary students are returned to school, the courses in the uni were still running online though campus has been opened.

 

UCL main library, October 2020

 

November:

The second lockdown began. To be honestly, I did not feel much change in my life. The only thing is that when I go to the groceries, the weather turned cold and people seemed to be wearing masks again.

 

Autumn 2020, second lockdown started. Green Park, London

 

December:

Lockdown started again due to a new variant, but apart from receiving more warm wishes and questions from friends and family in China, life has not been changed. I spent my Christmas holiday with my flatmates as we are in one bubble——people can only gather with the ones within one bubble under the PHE policy. We cooked Turkey together.

 

Christmas dinner with flatmate, December 2020

 

January 2021:

The Christmas break passed quickly, followed by endless online meetings and papers. It was still very quiet and cold outside.

 

February:

Spring festival was coming. I spent it with my flatmates, making dumplings and decorating the kitchen together. Flights are still banned and it is unknown when we could go back to China.

 

Spring Festival, February 2021

 

March:

In this month, there has been a lot of talk on social media about the vaccine visa replacing the quarantine period, although I know it's still a long way off. Hope is better than nothing, isn't it?

 

Richmond Park, March 2021

 

In general, before the pandemic, the experience of studying in the UK was very good. We gathered, held parties, attended various lectures, and travelled to different places. It may also be the main reason for many students who come here. Undoubtedly, the coronavirus completely changed all the things. However, on the contrary, it is another opportunity to know yourself better and try a quite different lifestyle——staying with yourself everyday. During the lockdown days, I harvest a lot of skill, amuse myself, cooking, reading, playing ukulele, learning Korea and so on. It was truly an unforgettable and unique experience. Moreover, things are getting better and better. Hopefully, the normal life will be back soon.

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