10 days (about 1.5 weeks) of isolation in a new country, away from your loved ones can be overwhelming. I arrived in the UK on 19 Feb 2021 and was under isolation till 31 March. The cases were at the peak during that time and the country was under a strict lockdown. Everybody was locked inside their homes and not much people or vehicles were seen on the road. There is a train station behind my accommodation so all I could hear the entire day was the sound of trains, police cars and ambulances passing by at a distance.
My accommodation is right at the centre of the Stag Hill Campus, right opposite to the Student Union Building and people say that the area is always lit, being the centre for everyone to meet up and hangout. Unfortunately, none of us saw it that way until the first unlock ended back in April. Till then, the roads were empty, the lakeside was quieter than the usual, you could just see the cleaners and University workers around the campus. There used to be a pin drop silence all the time. Moving from a country of 1.366 billion population to such a quiet place is not an easy thing to deal with. You feel like you have moved from a metro city in India to some place in Himalayas. 😀
During the first few weeks, we were just 5 people residing in the occupancy of 20 so not much interaction between the people. All of us were homesick and struggling to settle down. We used to see each other in the common area, try to have a small talk, and go back to our rooms. First five days were terrible.
So, how did everything change? What did we all do to make ourselves at home?
There are 5 Indians living on my floor and so we decided to cook together. All of us gathered in the kitchen, divided our work, and decided to cook and have at least one meal of the day together, mostly dinners. We are all from different parts of India so everyone cooked the speciality of the place they belonged to. We started having a wonderful time together. I found a little family in these people. Talking to them in the odd hours of the day, knocking at each other’s doors to ask if they are hungry, being there for each other, planning trips and parties together and finally throwing a huge party as soon as the lockdown ended. It was a beautiful time that we all spent together.
However, not everyone is as lucky as we all were so for them, the University has a dedicated Covid Support team. The team assign you with an ‘Isolation buddy’ to help you feel at home, welcome you in the campus and help you buy groceries and other necessary items that are required. The team also keeps checking on you the entire time asking about your wellbeing and redirects you to the Centre for Wellbeing if they feel you are not able to cope up with the situation. Since you are not allowed to step out of the house, the team assigns you with the peer supporters who stays in touch with you during the challenging time. Isolation buddies are your companions and you can also reach out to the Chaplaincy if you want to book a session with them.
Please follow this link to find out more about the self-isolation support provided by the University- https://wellbeing.surrey.ac.uk/selfisolating
There are dedicated areas on all the three campuses for the isolating students who do not have symptoms and have not tested positive for Covid-19. To find the nearest outdoor space around you, follow the below links –
- Stag Hill Campus – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-12/exercise-areas-stag-hill.pdf
- Manor Park – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-12/exercise-areas-manor-park.pdf
- Hazel Farm – https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-12/exercise-areas-hazel-farm.pdf
It is important to keep a check on the latest advice provided by the Chief Student Officer whenever there is an update in the lockdown rules and restrictions by the government. These details are usually a part of the University Bulletin we receive on time-to-time basis but you can also read about it here https://www.surrey.ac.uk/coronavirus/students#advice.
Leaving behind your comfort zone is a biggest challenge in life. Give it some time when you move here and you’ll be fine. People here are welcoming and life is amazing! University is doing so much to help us feel at home during these difficult times. See you all soon! Drop in your questions in the comment section, if you have any! 🙂