Lockdown was hard. Mentally. Physically. Even academically. My studies did not motivate me as they once had, with everything being shifted online. Some days, there was no motivation to get out of bed, shower, and get dressed when I knew there was nowhere to go, no one to see, nothing more to do than lie in bed and wait for this nightmare to end.
Some days were hopeful: reading the articles about how the virus would be over in no time, getting fresh air and human interaction with a rare walk to the grocery store, having a good conversation on the phone with a loved one. Other days were harder: my grant for an internship in Thailand being rescinded, flights and accommodations for trips being cancelled, reading the more realistic articles telling the world that this pandemic would be a lengthy and arduous effort. Lockdown was hard.
However depressed, spiteful, and angry I felt at the time, I was lucky, and only now, grateful. I was in a place where I felt safe, and I was in a place with much less stress and worry than I would have had at home in America. Many friends knew they would feel happier and more secure going back home, but I knew I made the right decision for me by staying in Australia.
I was lucky enough to have friends who also chose to stay in Australia, even luckier to have them as flatmates so that we could ‘isolate’ together as a family unit. Other international students in the same boat: risking being locked out of their home country, living in a foreign country, no family there to get through this time with. But we had each other. All committed to our safety, yet committed to our mental health as well, we took precautions to be together, to support each other. We would pair off for a late-night sanity walk where we could get a taste of fresh air and exercise at a time when not many others were out in the street. We would grab our masks and go in the maximum group size of two to get our groceries and other essentials each week, returning to our apartment until the next rare outing. It became routine to have a walk with a friend every few days, returning to wash my groceries with soap and disinfectants, or to eat a special takeout dinner from a new place on a real plate as if going out to a new restaurant in Sydney, like I’d imagined I’d do so many times. We probably watched every post-apocalyptic and zombie movie on Australian Netflix during those months, as that was just the vibe at the time. We were sad, we were worried, and we were scared, but we were not alone.
When lockdown ended as Australia began to recover from the first wave, we were so grateful. We had made it through for the time being. And now it was time to figure out our next question: what’s next?
*** Jon, Grace, Nirvana- you guys were my life during lockdown. I don’t know where I would’ve been without you guys. Cameron, Annika, Josie- you guys made the beginning of my study abroad experience some of the happiest days of my life, and keeping up with you guys during lockdown meant so much to me. I’ll love you guys forever, and I hope we’ll be reunited again someday when COVID-19 is just a distant memory. ***
– Robynn P. from Down Under
Link to Part Three:
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