Hello, I’m Catherine Hanley, Lay Chaplain at Stonyhurst College in the UK. I am sharing reflections from our students as part of the Global Project “A Day in my Life: living under the Covid-19 Pandemic.” We hope you and your students enjoy reading them!
A Day in my Life: Daisy, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
In just the past few months the world has been flipped on its head. New stories are coming out every day regarding COVID-19 and the changes it has caused. I live in a relatively closed off village so my entire COVID experience has been based off stories I have heard in the media and second hand recounts from family and friends affected by it or in an area affected greatly by it. I am so grateful that I can feel so safe where I live because I know that many people all over the world are not as lucky as me.
My life has changed enormously since the start of the pandemic. It was a very gradual set of changes although. First, we would all hear about it on the news at school, then some people would be off school for a while, but I think the biggest change for me was when all the boarders left. I go to a boarding school which means we have lots of foreign students living on the school campus and after they all left, the school was almost empty. Now that I am in lockdown at home, even things such as going to the shops, things I would not have had a second thought about usually, requires planning in advance. Its things like that that show to me how COVID-19 has really changed all our lives.
This experience has also proved such a great learning experience for me. I am finding myself being much more grateful for things than I would not have been had this not been happening. I am lucky enough to be able to connect with me via social media but I’m still so excited to see them all when we are allowed out. This experience has really strengthened a lot of my friendships and relationships and for that I am super grateful!
I am continuing classes online whilst we are not at school and it really has been a learning curve for me. I am forced to develop a stronger sense of self-discipline, but I am really enjoying being able to spend more time with my family. Of course, I am very excited to go back and start learning with my teachers again, but my online classes are going surprisingly well. My school is helping me keep up with my fitness and is helping me keep up spiritually by having morning assemblies which include daily prayers. Overall, I am staying safe and I hope that everyone else is keeping as safe as they possibly can so that this can all be over soon.
A Day in my Life: Hiba, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
My experience with Covid-19 has been both direct and indirect. In February, the ambulance sirens were distant, from the nearby hospital. By early March, the same sirens arrived outside of my house. Around school, I don’t think anyone believed it would affect them. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that it would’ve affected me in the way that it did. At first, we had thought it was a lung infection, as I often get due to my asthma. However, by the third day of illness, I knew it was something different. I think the possibility of coronavirus was always in the back of my mind because of the media coverage, but I was too ill to join the dots, as I should’ve done.
When the dots connected, I guess you could say, between the symptoms of Covid-19 and my own. My mum worriedly contacted the GP. I remember the feeling of anxiousness I had when he confirmed our suspicions via video call. Even back at the beginning of the epidemic, it took 6 hours for an ambulance to arrive. When the paramedics arrived, they had full white suits on, and you could barely make out their faces. It was 4am in the morning and one of the most disconcerting moments of my life.
I was offered a bed in hospital, on the Covid-19 ward, but I was advised that staying at home was the best thing to help me recover. I was never tested because the next day, the laws were changed. Thankfully, I was still offered the treatment, because all the medical professionals had the same diagnosis. The paramedic’s parting words were, “pretend you have a cold. Just relax, catch up with your current Netflix series and don’t tell anyone you have the coronavirus (albeit unconfirmed)”. And that’s what I did and I doubt many of my close friends knew I had contracted Covid-19.
Since then, I have fully recovered. It is now April, and I have not been outside of my house for coming up to nine weeks. Some normality has been restored, as online school has begun, and I love still feeling the warmth of our Stonyhurst community despite our distances. Truthfully, I have never been more grateful to have the gift of the education I have been given. I love that we have continued the focus on the Jesuit aspects of education and that we continue to hone in on two JPP values every half term. Despite all the chaos of the past few months, I can say without a doubt that I have found an oasis in the on goings of online school, and the business it has brought with it.
A Day in my Life: Chidera, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
So far, my life has been greatly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Most of the regularities in my life, whether it be going to Church every Sunday, going out for a family member’s birthday or even going to school every day, have been completely changed. My day-to-day activities have become very repetitive where it starts with ‘going’ to school each morning. After a while, it just becomes going through the motions and that is what is missing. Every day, when you’re at school, something different happens. That’s why this, quarantine period, I have taken it upon myself to try things I might not usually do such learning a new language or instrument. The most recent of these ventures being using garage band for the first time. So whilst there are the little things that we take for granted that I’ll miss, I think that this is the opportunity to try things you haven’t done before.
A Day in my Life: Dilip, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
The UK was put into lockdown on 23 March 2020.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that this was an unprecedented step to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. That day, 335 people had died in the UK from COVID-19. Fast forward 33 days and 19,506 people have sadly lost their lives to this silent killer. I feel a sense of anguish and sadness for all those people that have died and all those who are suffering. Families, relatives and friends are left completely shocked at this unexpected tragedy that has ruined their lives. When the clocks struck 12 on New Year’s Day, could anyone even have imagined that an unthinkable pandemic would swipe through the world and leave everyone paralysed in fear of the events to come? I doubt anyone in the world could have envisaged the scale of the devastation that is going on. Large parts of humanity are in lockdown, and at the same time fear and uncertainty are gripping populations worldwide. The unpredictability of life events fills me with questions of what plan exists for all of us.
I have spent a lot of time this past month reading about COVID-19 and listening to the news where medical professionals and senior figures have been updating us with the statistics and advice on social distancing in order to keep people safe. The disease isn’t prejudiced, we are all equals and anyone could be affected. As a result people are listening to the scientific advice and trying their best to support each other in this crisis. I am pleased to see how quickly people have managed to adapt their lives to deal with the changes the pandemic is having on our homes, schools, and work-places. There was so much anger across the world between countries, communities. Ironically, the disease has shook everyone to the core and united us all as a nation.
This period of lockdown has made me more appreciative of simple things in my life and have realised the small things are the most important. A daily walk for exercise, learning new skills, helping at home and contacting friends and family. I now realise that trips to restaurants, concerts, theatres and holidays were all luxuries and it is possible to keep busy without those experiences in my life. It has been a challenge not being able to see family and friends personally but I feel I have tried my best to stay in contact. I’ve also realised it is important to be appreciative of my surroundings. It is so still and calm when I look outside, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the skies are clear and bright. There is no doubt that nature is benefiting from the lack of fumes and pollution that would normally exist. Nature is arguably winning and having a break from the pressures we put on it. Going forward I feel it will be very important to be appreciative of the world and surroundings we live in and keep this earth protected. Online school is strange, but I am enjoying it. I can see the efforts that the staff are all going to in order to ensure our education isn’t affected and I’m extremely grateful for that. The school work is the same but in a different environment. The online platforms have encouraged us all to engage regarding our studies and unite us in our learning goals. The efforts taken to create assemblies, singing practice, PSHE talks and recreational activities is exceptional and I am humbled that our school have made this opportunity possible for us.
I have always wanted to be a doctor when I am older because of my fascination with the workings of the human body. But now my passion has grown into admiration for the people in the NHS that are at the firing line of what feels like a war. It makes me grateful to be part of a country where the NHS serve the nation to the best of their ability. Sadly, some of these people lost their lives too soon whilst being at the front line. Like soldiers during the war, these people have shown bravery and strength of character and sacrificed their lives for so many others. This is something I will never forget and I hope one day I too can be part of such a commendable organisation. I have faith that this virus will pass and that we emerge from this pandemic as stronger characters. God clearly has a plan and is guiding us through this journey. I am grateful to the support from my family, neighbours, friends and my teachers and pray for them all.
A Day in my Life: Josh, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
My life has changed during this time, more so than I thought it would. There is no quick nipping to the shop to buy some milk or anything which is not necessary, only one person can go out at a time for groceries and it seems to be a battle. Then even when something is delivered, we wait three days before opening the parcel as it can last up to three days in cardboard. Right now, it is quite panicking, however, there have been some beneficial and enjoyable aspects during this time.
I have managed to spend more time with my family especially my younger brother, and my family and I find small things which we have taken for granted in the past now exciting. I have also had more time to learn new things, such as how to spin a basketball on my finger which I have always wanted to do but haven’t had the opportunity to do. Even though there is worry and panic in my mind there is a new aspect for life, realizing how lucky my family and I are, and spending my time with more enthusiasm even with just the little things, which I am grateful for.
School is now virtual which is a new experience and at sometimes can be challenging as relying on technology isn’t always the best. However, it is the only way that schools can continue without a risk of spreading any pathogens to others. The virtual school is more independent which helps for the future. Also, with the virtual world it has been great to keep in touch with friends who are going through the same experiences and we try to make the best out of the cards which we have been dealt with, especially when we play online poker and online Uno which are big laughs.
Through this pandemic there have been some worries and challenges, but there have also been some great experiences which I have enjoyed, for that and the condition my family, friends and I are in I am very grateful. Now I hope it won’t be too long till we are in a position of safety once this virus has been beaten.
A Day in my Life: Ben, 15, Stonyhurst College, UK
I can remember when I first heard of covid-19. I was sat in my room when one of my friends came in. He showed me a news article on his phone. The headline was “China virus: 17 new infections discovered in Wuhan” and it mentioned 62 cases and 2 deaths all in Wuhan. Then every day, more and more worrying news articles were coming out; “Cases triple as infection spreads to Beijing and Shanghai”, “Outbreak spreads in Europe from Italy” and then eventually,” Two cases confirmed in UK”. Eventually, things started to shut down; Restaurants, cafes, lots of non-essential shops, TV shows, workplaces, but not schools.
When schools finally shut, it was the start of the Easter holidays for my school, but I have 2 sisters at a different school, whose Easter holidays weren’t for another week so I had to do a week more of home-schooling anyway. When I finally got some time off work, the holidays were pretty much normal. We went out for a walk every day, but apart from that we just kept ourselves occupied.
Home schooling is fun because I am usually at boarding school and it means I get to see more of my family but I do miss seeing my friends.