This article is one in a series of stories featuring real experiences, thoughts and feelings from young people living in Cardiff during lockdown. To see the other stories, please click here. This article was written for the campaign by Ella Mahr-Roberts, a 20-year–old Cardiff University student.
In September, I found myself packing my bags, trying (and failing) to fit my world into a suitcase and flying away from home to live abroad for the first time. Once again (just like in lockdown 1.0), my loved ones & friends were just faces on a screen; zoom, snapchat & facetime becoming my lifeline in staying connected to the people at home. And yet, after the extended period of lockdown during the spring, this form of online long-distance communication didn’t feel as alien or as unwelcome.
Of course, a facetime will never be the same as a hug from your best friend, but, like so many times before, our generation have proven to be incredibly apt at adapting to our ever-changing circumstances.
We are the digital generation, something that seems to have been further defined through the way we adjusted to the pandemic. And thanks to this in many ways, my first few months assimilating into a new place didn’t feel as overwhelmingly isolating as I was expecting.
A year ago, the uncertainty of this predicament would have been too much for me to handle. I would never have even taken the risk, with the outcomes of my experience so precarious. Nonetheless, the last 6 months of Covid-19 chaos seemed to prepare me for this year abroad. I knew more than ever what it really felt like to be lonely and isolated, due to the previous lockdown, so I was no longer as afraid of the year away in a foreign place.
I had taught myself how to be lonely, and how to use this as fuel for a more positive mindset. I learnt to enjoy my own company and appreciate more the chats with friends over zoom. I discovered how to use the time alone to work on myself, something I hadn’t taken the time to do in years.
There is truly an overwhelming sense of newness that comes with moving overseas, and that is something no one can really prepare you for until you get there. Still, after months of unpredictability with the pandemic, the newness no longer seemed so threatening. The change I’ve always feared was instead something I threw myself into.
So, whilst the pandemic has been incredibly traumatising for our generation, the isolation and the loneliness, the chaos and the uncertainty provided me with important tools that have become essential to me whilst living by myself overseas.
It has become more evident than ever to me that it is so important to grasp any opportunity and run with it, because you never know what the world will be like next week, and certainly not next year. I am trusting the process and loving what I am learning about myself along the way.