UK Gap Assistant Nicky Chomyn has shared her honest and open account of life in the UK during COVID-19.
Nicky is currently in the UK. She made the decision to stay at her placement.
Here is her account from March this year. Watch this space for further updates.
Thank you Nicky.
“I honestly don’t know where to even start. This month has probably been one of the craziest months of our lives. Literally the only way to live at the moment, is to take each day as it comes.
Rewinding back to the start of March where everything felt relatively normal, I made pikelets, did a puzzle, celebrated world book day, booked a Contiki for the Easter Holidays and even went to the movies to see Onward with the Boarding House. And I thought it was so bizarre hearing that Aussies were stock piling Bog Roll (UK slang term for toilet paper).
But as the days have ticked by, everything has revolved around the coronavirus. From Facebook, to Instagram, to Snapchat, WhatsApp, the news and regular day to day conversations. It’s hard to take a break from all of it. There’s been mornings where I wake up and for that split second, I don’t think about what’s happening. Or it feels like I’m having a bad dream, and soon I’ll wake up. But this is reality right now.
Anyway, below is a timeline of just how fast things have been happening.
12th March: Mum and dad cancelled their trip to see me in the summer because of the coronavirus; uncertain if my Contiki will be still going ahead.
13th March: My Contiki has been cancelled. France are shutting all their schools and Uni’s. Boris Johnson has banned all overseas travel abroad. The UK is said to be 4 weeks behind Italy. Schools shutting declared more harm than good at this stage.
17th March: Local pharmacy testing everyone’s temperature before entry, all overseas boarders told to go home.
18th March: All UK schools are closing on the 20th March.
19th March: Made the decision to stay in the UK… my other gappie decided to fly back to Aus.
20th March: All UK schools close, our school remains open for those who are children of key workers. Australia closes their boarders to non-Australian citizens.
23rd March: Announcement from Boris, that basically put the whole country in lockdown: leave home only for: Shopping for basic necessities; one form of exercise a day; any medical need and travelling to and from work where it is absolutely necessary.
25th March: Emirates suspends all passenger services through Dubai.
26th March: Every Thursday night at 8pm, people around the UK will clap for all NHS workers.
27th March: Boris tests positive for coronavirus.
Rereading just how quickly everything has happened, just reminds me just how uncertain and unprecedented this situation is. Just over a week ago, I made the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make… do I stay in the UK, or do I return home to Australia. I really did think long and hard about coming home, but after much anxiety, tears and FaceTiming back home to talk to family, I decided that I wasn’t ready to return to Australia. I knew had I have got onto a plane; I would have regretted it.
In other news, I’m enjoying my time abroad. This month, I’ve definitely had periods of homesickness, but I’ve also made so many memories, including a weekend away in Bristol; celebrating Earth Awareness Day; watching the senior production perform ‘We Will Rock You’; helping out for a couple days in PrePrep and lending a hand in the Med Centre. Even with a roster, it’s impossible to predict what each day will bring.
Getting to the weather… the moment the UK went into lock down we literally had the best week of weather we’ve had all year! It really made me feel like we’d reached Spring, but omg it’s also given me the worst hay fever of my life.
Over here we’re getting through the days with the help of countless memes posted in our boarding staff WhatsApp group; baking, board games, jigsaws, walking the dogs, playing in the sports hall as well as a little help from Joe Wick.
Since having all this free time, my job has definitely changed. When I’m needed, I help out with the supervision of the children of key workers. But having this extra time, has also allowed me to start playing the guitar and piano again. I’ve even picked up a sketch book and below my flat I have access to paints!! So I know what I’ll be getting up to in the coming days and weeks. (: But I’m also taking this opportunity to read some good books and I have to admit, getting Disney Plus couldn’t have come at a better time. (I am so looking forward to watching Frozen 2!!!!)
The days are definitely different, but I’m happy where I am. I’m surrounded by the house parents and their 2 children; the matrons and their families; the Headmaster, as well as other staff members that live on site… and all their pets. (Definitely missing my pets right now!)
Overall, not really sure how this is all going to turn out, but then again no one does. For now, I’m looking after myself, still making lots of memories, keeping myself busy and just seeing where life takes me. (:
‘When this is over,
May we never take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves with neighbours
A crowded theatre
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine check-up
A school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
A boring Tuesday
When this ends,
May we find
That we have become
More like the people
We wanted to be
We were called to be
And may we stay
That way – better
For each other
Because of the worst’
Laura Kelly Fanucci