"Once again stripped of our freedom"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution:

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"I think that for many, we are slowly reaching a mindset where nothing surprises us anymore. With lockdown number two well under way, it simply feels as if we are just waiting for the next update, all the while ‘popping out for fresh air’ every five minutes and eating all the junk foods in between. Living in university halls, life can often feel a bit like Groundhog Day in the current climate, especially when considering that the only space I have entirely to myself is my single bedroom and bathroom. I am growing accustomed to seeing only my friends in grainy camera phone quality with intermittent pauses, and the phrase that since the first lockdown I never wanted to utter again: “can you hear me? It says reconnecting”, is back to haunt me. But despite the perhaps challenging quirks that we are all experiencing once again, I wonder about our attitudes and whether these have returned in a different fashion.

"This pandemic was entirely unexpected by, I can imagine, most. If someone were to enlighten me one year ago to the current situation, I think I would have been firstly very perplexed but also just as frightened. When I take the opportunity to step back and really consider what is happening in the world, it causes me to understand just how much of a bizarre and uncertain time we are living in. I have memories of the first lockdown (how was that eight months ago?!) and the feelings of frustration and fear I felt, watching the Prime Minister address a nation who had very little idea of what was going on and how we should react. Granted, none of us are entirely sure as to the most effective way forward even now. It was all so new, and with the fear of making myself appear pleased about the situation, it was almost exciting.

"Fast forward to now – in the midst of a second lockdown and many rules, regulations and U-turns later we have once again been stripped of our freedom, and as can be expected it’s certainly a challenging situation for many. My priority throughout this entire eight month period has been the health and safety of myself, my loved ones and those around me, yet this time around I am struggling to focus on the real reason we are here and not the annoyances of it. I don’t think I am the only one either. It seems so counterintuitive to one day be able to sit in the kitchen of my friend’s flat one floor up from me and the next be fined £200 for doing so, as if I was previously immune but now at high risk. I want to stress that I understand the thinking and care behind every decision, but whereas before I valued physical health above all, it is becoming clear that the mental health of university students should undoubtedly be considered to just as high a degree.