Confinement Chronicles: Freshers’ in Lockdown
In this touching and honest article, Jessica Pabon, a Butlerite fresher, discusses moving across the Atlantic, overcoming anxieties, and the ups and downs of freshers in lockdown.
I am not quite sure what I expected from this freshers’ week, but I can guarantee it was not this. To begin with, I am an American, so I had no clue what a freshers’ week was before I got here! Even throughout my government- mandated isolation period, I was not sure what to expect, but, as the Josephine Butler freps began to release information, I quickly realised it would be a week unlike any other.
“Even from a distance, despite a virus, we were able to get involved.”
When I first heard about freshers’ week, I was concerned. I have pretty bad anxiety, so the noise and the all- out partying is not really for me. However, my fears dissolved in the first moments after our lovely freps released teh week’s schedule. From dressing in Butler’s colours, and seeing my friends in cow and unicorn onesies, to boujee bingo and eating my first truly British chips at the bar, the college community drew us in and welcomed us all. Even from a 2m distance, I have met such lovely people. One frep even brought me a UK charger, performing a COVID- secure drop- off, so that I could charge my phone! I have also had the opportunity to meet my amazing flatmates and brilliant new household. Despite strict social distancing guidelines, I will always remember how many people called my name and waved at me throughout the week, recognising me from our group chats. Even from a distance, despite a virus, we were able to get involved.
Of course, even the most positive situations can have downsides. Personally, freshers’ week was tough, having just emerged from a two- week- long quarantine and suddenly being bombarded with hundreds of new people. I certainly experienced a pang or two of homesickness. I watched as all my friends’ parents helped them move in, setting them up and saying goodbye. My own goodbye was at an airport, and the rest of the move was entirely on my own. Additionally, many households have mixed during parties, even just inviting one member of a separate household into their own, causing the anxieties of many international students to worsen. Throughout the city, we have heard reports of isolation periods commencing, positive tests being confirmed, and all the signs of that terrible virus to which we have all grown accustomed. However, among these reports have been messages of solidarity. Even from afar, we can support our friends in quarantine through group zooms, quizzes, kind messages and more. The ingenuity of my peers, in their constant invention of new kindnesses, will never cease to amaze me.
“These students, after a year of troubles ranging from finishing school online to having their A- level results mishandled, have displayed a distinct commitment to reclaiming both their educations and their personal lives.”
Despite the potential for a mass outbreak looming over our heads, Josephine Butler students, and Durham students writ large, have shown a true resilience and a fighting spirit. These students, after a year of troubles ranging from finishing school online to having their A- level results mishandled, have displayed a distinct commitment to reclaiming both their educations and their personal lives in the most COVID- compliant ways possible. It has been utterly inspirational to be surrounded by them and, for that, I could not possibly be more thankful.
This article was a submission for our September content call: Confinement Chronicles. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram for our content calls and competitions.