It is quite hard to pin down how you have (and continue to) impact my life. As an international student from Vienna, I left Royal Holloway mid-March, on the last day the Austrian border was still open. I thought you would be history in a matter of weeks, maybe months, and then everything would be – excuse me for using that expression – back to normal again. I moved in with my parents, appreciated the quality time I could spend with them and endured the two weeks quarantine.
As many others, I made myself a quarantine to do list, completed a Google Digital Marketing course, started to learn Spanish on Duolingo, trained to do the splits (I got quite close, but not there yet), bought a fancy cotton face mask, and virtually met up with friends more often than I would have done without you. I had one bad day a week (a lot more bad hair days though, because who cares?) and since lockdown measures proved effective in Austria, the fear you had caused initially, subsided gradually.
The first time it really hit me that you were not going to quietly recede in the background was when I learned that all but one of my five housemates would not come back to campus. The fear I had felt due to the crisis made way to anger. A word that has made it to the top of my vocabulary in those past weeks (in addition to furlough, physical distancing, and herd immunity) is gutted. When starting my MA, I had left behind a full-time job with a steady income, a relationship, and a flat to experience one more year as a student. And it had been the best six months of my life (studying back home is not even half the fun, trust me!). Although I travelled extensively, went to numerous museums, made amazing friends, joined societies, my UK and RHUL to do list was still so long, but suddenly there wasn’t any time left anymore. I felt so utterly disappointed and angry at you (gutted).
Yet, what you have shown me is how quickly people can adapt to novel circumstances, how crucial resilience is, and that putting off things to later is never a good idea.
MA programme Consumption, Culture and Marketing, Royal Holloway Univeristy of London.