A few months ago, my school got in touch with me asking me to write a piece for their newsletter about what I’d been up to since leaving last June; this is what I came up with. There’s a bit of life updating and a lot of reflection on how Covid has (somewhat) changed my life trajectory, similar to earlier pieces I wrote while I was still at school. If you’re reading this when it drops, make sure read my new piece too; otherwise, enjoy, I guess.
A lot can change in a year.
I am sat writing this on a cold Edinburgh evening, watching the snow melt outside the window of my university accommodation. I am eternally envious of my friends on the floors above me, who get views of city rooftops on one side and the familiar silhouette of Arthur’s Seat on the other, while I spend my nights looking out into the street and the block of flats opposite. Even though it’s not quite as idyllic as my friends’, or even as Bruton, it’s something that, for the time being, has quickly become home; if nothing else, watching the vast array of random passers-by on the street is an everyday reminder that I’m not alone.
A year ago, I left King’s for the February half-term having had a whirlwind of a month, from the House Music to the rapidly-approaching debate final to my 18th birthday just a few days before. Covid-19 was still confined to the backs of minds and jokes on the Internet. Unbeknownst to most, it was about to send most of our lives upside down—mine especially since I was about to be taking my A levels and leaving school. As far as I was aware at the time, I was headed for a pretty normal future. I was still waiting on my offer from Edinburgh, where I already had my heart set on going to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and was anxious to do as well as I could in my exams to ensure that I met the requirements. I was terrified by but looking forward to my last term at school and the chance to conclusively close five years of dedication to its community. What I did not happen to expect at the time was that that all would disappear within a number of weeks.
March 18th, the day A levels and GCSEs were cancelled, remains clear in my head; I remember watching the press conference in the Lyon House common room and feeling the whole room be struck by a wave of uncertainty (on top of our admitted elation). The subsequent months of the first lockdown are, I think, going to be ones we reflect on a lot in years to come. What struck me most about them was how they granted the world a time to press pause, and reflect on where we all were, what we were doing, and where we were going. Perhaps, as someone caught between two such important points, this effect was more prevalent for me; despite its obvious major impacts on me in that light, I was anxious to see that those whose livelihoods had been seriously adversely affected were supported through it all. Otherwise, I spent my copious amounts of new-found free time over summer playing American Football with my brother, reading to prepare for my university course, and writing articles for my blog. I also got a buzzcut, which I am sure would’ve been to Mrs Grant’s utter dismay (she will be relieved to know that my normal hair has subsequently grown back, however).
My experience at university so far has obviously been pretty different than your usual. My room is my new library, my computer screen my lecture hall, and my kitchen my nightclub. I think it would be pretty easy to get bogged down in the negatives of how impacted and changed my life has been by this new world we’re living in, but I have tried my utmost not to; honestly, I am still loving every second of my time here. I really miss King’s in so many ways, but the move up here has been a refreshing change of scene; being able to live independently, especially in this beautiful city with which I am already in love, is a dream come true. I’ve even managed to cook for myself, something which I strongly doubted I’d be able to manage (but trust me when I tell you that I miss the King’s catering department more than ever). I love my course, and I find myself more excited to learn every day than I’ve ever been before; despite the fact that I dream of in-person lectures, I am reassured that they will one day be a reality (although preferably sooner rather than later).
In May, I wrote a piece for the Dolphin about lockdown, and how it had flipped the world on its head, but more importantly about how it had brought everyone together; there was a certain nationwide atmosphere of solidarity, and a common belief in embracing the hand we’d all been dealt. If I’ve learned anything since leaving King’s, it’s that—though on my last day at school I could never have seen this year going the way it has, the best thing I can do now is to make the most of what I’ve got. Life doesn’t always go the way that you’d hope or expect; sometimes, the only thing you can really do is just live it, and know that that’s enough.