Izzy, a third-year university student, reflects on her time social distancing

 

It would be naive to claim that this period of uncertainty is something that we have been prepared to deal with both mentally and physically. As a student, I am used to my own space where I am constantly around friends and other students. When I came home for my spring break three weeks ago, little did I know that when I left my university it would be the last time I would see the striking St Andrews skyline for the foreseeable future.  
 
I said goodbye to my flatmate, assuming I’d see her at the end of March, what I didn’t know was that the bubble of university life I have loved for the last three years would be turned upside down. I never got the chance to say goodbye to many of my friends who were graduating (I am in my third year on a four-year course), a lot of them went back to the United States and I will be unlikely to see them again. 

 
A new way of living

 
For the first few days of social distancing, it was a change from the ordinary: everything was new and it was somewhat exciting to live in a time of such enormous change. However, this facade quickly dissolved as the sombre reality of the situation unfolded. Now, only allowed to leave my house once a day, I sit looking forward to the brief period when I am allowed out.  
 
A house is meant to be a home, somewhere safe, comfortable and peaceful. Instead, it has been inverted into a prison-like place where I sit in the same places for the majority of the day, having my meals in the same place, with the same people and at the same time. Although I have tried to practice self-care, running 8km on my trip outside the house, eating healthy meals and keeping a gratitude journal, somehow all these things don’t provide an escapism from the reality of what we’re living through now.  

 
Comfort in our unified experience

 
On 9th April I stood outside my door and clapped the hardworking NHS, as I stopped for a second I heard cheering, clapping and laughter from all the people nearby. For the last few weeks all I’ve felt is isolated, deliberately avoiding people when out running or going to the shops, something so against the innate nature of humans. This brief period of joy was beautiful in a time of such universal anxiety and indefiniteness. As I stood outside, I realise for the first time in this period of loneliness that each day is closer to the end of this experience. There is comfort in our unified experience of our way of life being turned upside down, so I will endeavour to appreciate this time as it happens, knowing that this too shall pass.