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Quarantined abroad : Stories from the UK

By Mahika Panditha

Happy Sunday everyone, and we are back with some more quarantine stories – this week from the UK. Some of you may have friends and family over there, so you probably already know the situation there. I don’t want to get into it too much as our students there will give us an idea of it. As I said last week, there are so many students abroad who are without their families, and although this is quite a dire situation, it is a good time to check in on your friends and family – wherever they may be.

We had the chance to speak to a few students still in the UK as well as some who were able to come back and are currently in quarantine on their experiences, and here is what they shared!

HARIN PERERA – WAS IN CAMBRIDGE

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

I was in quarantine for about seven weeks before I flew back to Sri Lanka. Between the usual university work and the new isolationist lifestyle, my typical day consisted of finishing formative assignments, cooking something new, going on a run, and playing Call of Duty: Zombies with some friends back home. I will also shamelessly admit that I watched about an hour of TikToks a day (I blame this purely on the quarantine).

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I was initially in Cambridge, but I moved to London to stay with my sister during the quarantine. We weren’t staying in a particularly densely populated area, so fortunately it was safe to go grocery shopping and for the occasional run (of course, whilst keeping a two-metre distance). I owe a big thank you to Uber Eats and Deliveroo for helping me out whenever I was too lazy to cook!

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine?

 

Now that I’m back home, I can’t wait to get a haircut, buy a McSpicy, and see my family and friends! It was definitely tough to be away from everyone for so long, but I think that’s what will make it especially exciting to see them again. I’ll of course come over to bother you and auntie!

MONELI SAMARAKKODI – CURRENTLY IN LONDON

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

I’ve been self-isolating in London since 12 March. It’s been nearly three months since I’ve gone anywhere, except to the grocery store and for a daily walk, so it’s definitely been a really strange experience. I’ve dedicated a large proportion of my quarantine time to researching and writing my coursework as I have my submissions in June. However, I’ve come to realise there’s SO much to do in quarantine.

I’ve managed to watch almost all on Netflix, get back into one of my favourite hobbies reading, cook so much of food (especially Sri Lankan food to ease my homesickness), reconnect with friends I’ve not spoken to in ages, do weekly virtual Kandyan dance sessions, and work on some creative projects. I’ve also (obviously) joined the baking bandwagon and have made quite a few things including banana bread (duh), tres leches, double chocolate brownies, chocolate cake, and cupcakes, to name a few.

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I’m currently in Swiss Cottage, London. As of 11 May, the UK had 219,000 confirmed cases with 31,855 deaths. We’re still under the Government-imposed lockdown, with most non-essential businesses still shut down. However, the PM just announced that they hope to ease it in the next few weeks. In my neighborhood, I see a significant increase in social distancing practices now, compared to March, with more people wearing masks and less crowds in parks, etc.

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine?

 

HUG MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS! The first few days after we were advised to quarantine and social distance, I was thinking of all the cafes and restaurants and fun things I’d like to do when we’re allowed back out. But three months of not seeing my friends and family and being in isolation has really put things into perspective and reminded me that nothing is as important as those you love. Once I’ve hugged them all multiple times, I’m really looking forward to travelling! Also, rolling myself to the gym since these quarantine gains aren’t a good look on me.

MONIKA SALEH – CURRENTLY IN LONDON

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

Honestly, I’ve lost count but I think since 18 March.

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I’m in West London and it was really chaotic at first (especially when lockdown was announced); during the first few days of the panic, all the stores were basically empty. So I would have to go to multiple grocery stores and they all had more empty shelves than full ones. Now, everything is much more chilled, but maybe that’s not a good thing because people are straight up having picnics in the park and squeezing their way past you in the store.

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine?

 

Get dinner with my friends at my favourite Korean restaurant, wear summer dresses, and go cycling in the sun.

IMALINI MORIN – CURRENTLY IN LONDON

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

I have been quarantined for two months now, and I’ve mostly been sleeping, eating, and watching movies. Sometimes I’ve kept busy with assignments and online classes. I go to the park to walk the dog occasionally. Since I’m staying with my boyfriend and his family, I’ve started to learn how to make brownies and cupcakes and other stuff. Cooking does make the time go by.

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I’m in Brixton, South West of London. The situation here is not taken that seriously. Now that we have the lockdown slightly relaxed, people are going out and stuff, but personally, I think they were already going out to the park and shops even during lockdown. The park was filled with people and no one paid much attention to the lockdown rules.

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine? 

 

The first thing I’ll do when this is all over is try and get back home to my parents. I would really love to go back to my hometown in Sri Lanka; see my family and friends, spend some time at the beach, and just being home would be the best feeling.

SHESHANA JAYASEKERA – CURRENTLY IN CANTERBURY

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

I have been in quarantine since the beginning of March. For a while, I kept busy with university assignments and studying for my exams – the work never really ends! There’s no time to get bored. Outside of school work, I spend a lot of time with my housemates, cooking or cleaning. We are in the process of re-watching some of my favourite TV shows: Community and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also got time to work on my photography and play my guitar. Next up: I am going to learn how to knit and cut my housemate’s hair! There’s honestly no time like the present to pick up new skills.

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I live in Canterbury, Kent. The population here has been in self-isolation for a while now. Not many people are out and about. Most of the people in my neighborhood are either retired or have families with small children. As such, I think the people in my area are taking the lockdown quite seriously.

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine? 

 

The weather has been so nice lately. All I really want to do is go to the park and spend some time in the sun! But that can wait till everyone gets all the healthcare they need and are safe. Be compassionate people!

DULENI NIMAYA – CURRENTLY IN BIRMINGHAM

 

  • How long have you been in quarantine for and what have you been up to?

 

I’ve been in quarantine for about 50 days. I really enjoyed all the free time at first and spent a lot of time reading and catching up on my favourite TV shows. After about a week of just lounging around, I got frustrated being indoors all the time, so I took long walks in the evening to watch the sunset and I cooked/baked a lot with my flatmate.

 

  • Which part of the UK are you in and what’s the situation like there?

 

I’m currently in Birmingham. Birmingham has the highest incidence of Covid-19 outside London. Most people I have seen have been adhering to the lockdown rules. What impressed me the most is that the student community at the University of Birmingham and most of the people in Birmingham have been very supportive of the NHS (National Health Service) and have started lots of charity runs, etc. to raise money for the NHS. 

 

  • What is going to be the first thing you do once you are out of quarantine? 

 

I definitely just want to go out and eat at a restaurant with my friends! I miss all my friends so much because all of them moved back home due to the current situation and I’m kind of getting sick of eating what I’ve cooked. 

PHOTOS Harin, Moneli, Monika, Imalini, Sheshana, Duleni