Student Life

Coronavirus: One year on from when my life paused

By Emily Price

March will mark a year since my wonderful hands-on university classes were changed to remote learning. Virtual lessons are now spent hidden behind a screen, my camera often left off to conceal my shabby state after rolling out of bed to walk a few metres to my work space.

Almost a year ago, I was given my first task as student working from home – to write how the pandemic made me feel. There were no journalistic rules to follow, no inverted pyramid or interviewees needed. Just how I felt inside and the state my mind was in.

Looking back on the piece has made me emotional, remembering how worried I was and my daughter’s kindness at a time I needed it most opens up a wound that has been festering for almost a year.

My husband did manage to find work, although it’s not ideal and I managed to find a routine teaching my six year old daughter at home. I wouldn’t say I’m happier than I was when I wrote the original piece below, I’ve just given up on being sad.

I have the same dream every night about a room full of incessantly ticking clocks that buy me no time and crowds that press in on me from all sides. Living through this destructive pandemic has changed me and I don’t think I can ever change back.

Image by Natalie Ball. Stood outside the Senedd with classmates a few weeks before lockdown with no social distancing required. We rode bikes back to the university afterwards and laughed all the way, oblivious to how life would change.

A sack of potatoes and a side of hope

As I sit at my desk which looks out onto rolling hills and mountains, I notice my elderly neighbours house opposite.

Two visitors have arrived. Usually, they knock at the front door. Not today.  

I watch them cautiously enter through the side gate carrying precious parcels of food. They bang the door, drop the parcels and beat a hasty retreat. 

Looking out over the mountains at home in Merthyr Tydfil

The country has gone into a ‘lockdown’.  

Normal day to day living has come to an end in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

People may only leave the house for essential food and medicine. Exercise can be taken once a day. 

A run, a walk or a bike ride – alone.  

My husband lost his job yesterday. 

My landlord was understanding. She said she can go without the rent for a while – she won’t throw us out. 

My husband started looking for work immediately.  

Shops and hospitals are desperate for fresh, brave workers ready to voluntarily put themselves in the path of the deadly virus. 

I offered to look for work too. He said: “No. I’ll do anything, any job, I don’t care. You’re meant for more. Stick to university.” 

Now is a time to hold our loved ones closer to us. Appreciate the people we have. 

Material things mean nothing without free will. How can you go fancy clothes shopping when all the shop windows display a sad ‘closed’ sign? 

Dinner and study time

I am home schooling my 5-year-old daughter. She handed me a note today: 

“Mum you ar a gud teecha.” 

It made me turn away from her quickly so she could not see my tears.  

I’m smoking too much. COVID-19 is a disease of the lungs and smokers suffer more. But I can’t stop. 

Sneaky trips to the back garden where my daughter can’t see me smoke are becoming more frequent.  

A family member told me she knew a farmer who was selling large sacks of potatoes. She asked me would I like a sack? 

Today she knocked on my window. I opened the front door and she backed off. Her hands up, indicating gloves. 

She said: “I didn’t touch them with my hands!” 

I shouted my thanks as she got back in her car and drove away up the deserted street. 

Next to the huge sack of potatoes I notice a white bag. 

In the bag an envelope stuffed with cash. 

Looks like my landlord will get her rent.  

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