Opinion | This lockdown feels eerily similar to the last, but it is not the same

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By Joe Watt, Second Year, English and History

Here we go again. In a cyclical twist of fate, England has triumphantly whimpered into another lockdown. The wind of the pub garden pillowing our sails has been punctured, to be replaced by the recognisable ghosts of isolations past. In short, it’s all a bit scarily familiar.

Through August and September our lives were expanding; we were eating out, helping out, and optimistically uninstalling zoom. Now they’re shrinking again, with the looming threat of the e-quiz reappearing on the horizon.

We had a brief affair with regularity before retreating back into our aerated households and socially distanced pairs. The street group chat, thought long-since buried beside the weekly clap, has made a triumphant return.

When lockdown initially hit in March, we were dispersed to entirely divergent living conditions. Some remained in Bristol accommodation, others moved back to family homes, some returned overseas. The list is endless. We all experienced lockdown differently yet, for all, it was a period far removed from the regularities of University life.

Entering into November’s darker, colder sequel is incredibly daunting, there’s little anticipation of sourdough to come, only the collective groan of those who have now wasted their free Pret subscription month.

Although there is comfort to be found in the shared experience of a global disaster, having returned from our various, sprawling lockdowns to a flat or house or halls somewhere around the city, our lives are again blitzed into similarity.

There is solace in shared locations and schedules, but there will not be a singular, universal experience of this lockdown for students and, to suggest that one exists is alienating for those who can’t be ‘all in this together’.

We all experienced lockdown differently yet

As expected, there has been a slight exodus from Bristol, and for all a sense of loss; even though we are well-practised in the art of quarantine we don’t really have a handle on how this month will feel.

Teaching, from mid-March, mostly fell out the window, yet we are now firmly in the throes of a ‘post/during-Covid’ University. Our schedules are expected to continue into ‘the new normal’ (potentially my least favourite phrase but would make a good pandemic tattoo).

This begs the pressing question, what will the cornerstones of this incarceration be? We could track the eras of our first lockdown into fairly defined sections: we had ‘Tiger King’, Captain Tom, and Dalgona coffee to begin with, followed by jigsaws, Joe Wicks, and ‘Normal People’.

Countless people will not have the same comforts as last time

We went from daily runs, to daily pints. The final phase and transition was from selling hand-embroidered masks to ‘Selling Sunset’.

This time around will feel different because we  haven’t up to now, experienced a ‘regular’ taught term entirely consumed by a lockdown. Countless people will not have the same comforts as last time, and countless still may be in a more comfortable position than in March but navigating this next month or so will take a great readjustment from all, no matter where we are.

There’s a phrase I’ve heard cropping up amongst students recently and can’t quite seem to grasp; ‘we move’, it translates, in my own understanding, to continuation regardless of setback, a modern day ‘keep calm and carry on’.

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Living through the uncertainty and grief of a global pandemic sucks, no matter how you try and spin it. It sucks that we can’t travel, or see friends, or go to a seminar without stewing in a flimsy, head-only sauna.

It sucks that we can’t hug, or sit in a pub, or breathe in a manner that doesn’t resemble hyperventilation while wearing glasses with a mask; and it sucks that University isn’t what we thought it would be this year. But it won’t last forever.

And with that being said, until then, I guess ‘we move’, although, in a much more literal sense, we should really stay put.

Featured Image: Epigram / Molly Pipe


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