I was having the time of my life – seeking self-discovery, meeting new friends and exploring the other part of the world. Six months into my one-year course in Durham, COVID-19 struck. It felt like an apocalypse. Shelves in the marts were emptied, many borders were closed, several countries were locked down and countless flights were cancelled. My long-awaited Paris trip was called off and many of my friends left without bidding proper goodbyes.
The seriousness of the situation hit home when I found out that my relative was in close contact with confirmed cases from one of the largest clusters in Singapore. At that point, all I felt was fear and anxiety. I immediately packed my belongings and within two days, I left Durham for Singapore. The journey back was chaotic to say the least. The airports were crammed with everyone coming from different places trying to get home. The fear was palpable. Every single one around me on the planes had their masks on. Upon arrival, I was issued a Stay Home Notice (SHN) and advised to avoid contact as much as possible.
I have friends who are still stuck in Durham, unable to secure a flight home because of the numerous travel restrictions
As I approach the tenth day of my SHN, it is perhaps time for some reflections. I am truly fortunate to have made it back. Even though I am serving my SHN in an isolated flat arranged by my family, I am blessed that every day, without fail, hot food is being delivered to my door by family and friends. I am also thankful for the encouragement and support showed by others that are on SHN.
However, I have friends who are still stuck in Durham, unable to secure a flight home because of the numerous travel restrictions that have been imposed and the spike in COVID-19 cases back in their home countries.
As I reflect upon my personal experience, I genuinely hope that everyone reading this understands just how fortunate we all are being able to stay with our loved ones in times like this. The government has also been constantly working on a robust set of measures to help contain the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, I strongly urge each and everyone of us to play our parts as these measures alone will not help us win the fight against the virus.
Rachel Chua studied BSc Business and Management at the Singapore Institute of Management, and graduated in 2019. She is now pursuing her MSc Management (International Business) at the University of Durham. Since filing this article, Rachel has completed her 14 days of SHN and is now safely back home.