By Maya Sargent
Lockdown time. A concept I fear I will never understand, but let me offer a glance into my personal experience. Mornings are a foreign notion; some days I have attended, others I have not. Afternoons purely do not exist as time does not allow it; my bleary eyes and very late breakfasts are unable to categorise this time as anything other than extended mornings. Evenings consist of about 3 large dinners and a pre-bedtime nap on the sofa. There are no longer 24 hours in the day but 48, a week passes in three days which is now 144 hours and a month is a mythical fantasy that warps time entirely…Confusing? Absolutely, which is why I have not been able to track time, ageing or life in lockdown, however, I was fairly certain that my relatively young self would not be affected by this new version of time. In fact, I was fairly certain that I was managing to successfully survive lockdown. So you can imagine the shock on my face when I walked to my local corner shop on Sunday morning to purchase the newspaper, actively hunting the crossword section... Lockdown, I realise, has well and truly distorted everything I once understood.
Time has become a barrelling, all consuming sensation which has left me constantly exhausted, a fan of anything offline and a wannabe Mary Berry in the kitchen. However, I’m now left incredibly worried that this ageing is permanent and when thrown back into university life, I will have no idea how to react and will be terribly confused when I’m ID’d at a club when I feel 70 years old.
All jokes and my pathetic life aside, when placing this into a more serious context, looking at ‘lockdown time’ has exposed serious concerns that have the ability to detrimentally impact university students if they are not monitored. With year abroads and placements cancelled, lectures being moved online and access to public spaces being prohibited, it becomes glaringly obvious that we will be returning to a revised university lifestyle that we cannot recognise.
As a society that thrives on socialising, student life will become incredibly withdrawn, quiet and closed-off, a complete juxtaposition to what we know. In addition to this, all students have just spent the last three months with their families, close friends, partners or alone, in extremely sheltered conditions. So, what happens when this safety net is broken and we are placed back into this revised, unknown new life?
There are many small elements that combine to create the university atmosphere that we know and love. It is loud, busy, energetic, chaotic and most importantly treasured. Trying to imagine a mindful, social-distanced version of this seems so foreign and incredibly daunting.
The aftermath of lockdown is an aspect of society that needs to be heavily monitored, for all aspects of our community. As the pace of life increases and social interactions become more common, it is important to recognise how quickly external pressures and responsibilities will begin to escalate and how inept we will be at handling these scenarios after sheltering in our homes for so long.
Fear is a powerful emotion and it is hard to imagine a world that no longer fears COVID-19. I try to imagine the situation in two months time… as a society, will we be mentally stable enough to survive the realities of life again? Lockdown life has been a shield, your front window has become your new eye into the world and as far as home life is concerned, what was once considered claustrophobic and mundane is now normality. People have internalised quarantine and this has ultimately created a larger divide between quarantine life and reality. A safe route out of this, to protect our physical and mental health, is one that will consist of an abundance of trust and patience; I just hope that we haven’t used it all up trying to complete The Times Sunday crossword...