Within a week in March, I went from socially distancing from my friends and flatmates, to packing up my flat and flying back from Sheffield. At the start of the month, flying back wasn’t even a thought. Yet by the second week, it felt a possibility until I woke up on March 17 to my father’s call asking me to pack up. My flight home to Singapore was booked for the following morning. I spent the entire day in a manic rush to pack all my belongings. Before I knew it, that was the end of my first year at university.
Five months on and my return still isn’t guaranteed. I am ever grateful to have spent the lockdown period in Singapore. Despite cases rocketing weeks after I arrived (albeit not community cases), it has been extremely safe to be here. Lockdown here was only eased in mid-June, contact tracing apps have been in place since April and the government has handed masks to all every month. While a densely populated city, Singapore did well to keep community cases controlled, and so remains a unique bubble.
With that in mind, is it wise to step out of this bubble and travel to Sheffield? It’s tough to say. My initial worries revolve around quarantine. How and where will I be able to spend the 14 days in isolation upon landing? How do I travel to Sheffield? Will my future, unknown flatmates maintain as much social distancing as I do? Is it worth it to travel all the way if the majority of classes will be online? There’s a lot of uncertainty and questions to which the university and accommodation might not have answers yet. The time is ticking.
Personally, I’m itching to get back to the university routine. Studying from home isn’t as motivating, especially with a seven (or eight) hour time difference to the UK. The last five months have taught me a lot about social responsibility. It’s easy to come back to university and want to dive back to the old lifestyle, but while that’s not possible, fun can still be had. Singapore has had a five-person limit on social gatherings since mid-June, and largely, that has been enough. We all have to be responsible, maintain perspective and be selfless where possible. If my flatmates are cautious, I think life will be quite manageable. Lastly: please, please wear masks everywhere.