When Spring 20202 abruptly got cut short, I comforted in the fact that Fall 2020 would be better and back to normal. The threat of coronavirus would be a thing of the past, and I would return to worrying about what to wear to the next ball, which coffee shop to go to that day, and how that essay deadline is rapidly approaching and I should really stop procrastinating on it.
“If you are a visitor or traveling to the UK…you’ll need to self-isolate in the place you are staying for the first 14 days after you arrive,” I read on www.gov.uk this summer. Reading this was a slap in the face and a shot to the heart. Instead of reuniting with old friends and making new ones at socials and events, I’d be in isolation for two weeks upon arrival.
After quite a bit of back and forth and weighing my options, I made the decision to attend St Andrews in person. I flew across the ocean alone, equipped with my mask, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer. My flights were nearly empty. I met my friend at the Edinburgh Airport, and after almost 24 hours of driving and flying, we arrived to her flat in St Andrews, where we would quarantine together for 2 weeks.
I am extremely fortunate that I was able to quarantine in a flat with my friend. The flat never felt confining with its multiple rooms and two courtyards. Despite the fact that quarantine initially sounded awful, I dare say that it was enjoyable. We only ran into minor disasters, including three times when a bee got into the flat and when we couldn’t figure out how to turn the heating on for two days. I kept busy by reading, working for my residence hall committee, exercising and running my fitness account, writing, cooking, talking on the phone, playing games, and watching movies.
My appreciation for the small things was greatly enhanced during this time and the smallest things made me extremely happy. Some of my best memories include haphazardly putting ingredients into banana bread which ended up being amazing; making popcorn and watching The Good Place; my best friends calling me up and talking for hours on the phone; playing an invented card game called Calpurnia; sitting in the courtyard basking in the sun (when the bees weren’t around), hearing the town church bells ringing nearby; and spontaneously eating ice cream at midnight.
If last year’s version of myself would have heard about quarantines, I would have declared it a complete and utter nightmare. But for me, and others in my generation, I hope, the pandemic has taught us to become more adaptable and appreciate what is important. Relationships matter. Family matters. Real friendship matters.
Most importantly, your mindset matters. We can only control so much of what happens to us in our lives. We can control our perception of them though. There is so much to be grateful for that could change at any moment. I feel as if I already have the world; I don’t need to ask for more.
I have very little idea of what this year will look like. Will I get sent home next month? Quarantine again? I’ll worry about that when the time comes. In the meantime, you can find me counting my blessings.