Why household harmony is more vital than ever in Cambridge during COVID-19

‘Let’s be friends – best friends’ (Household Edition)

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” This quote from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire never made more sense to me than now and now is when I’ve never needed to understand it more.

My worries before returning to Churchill College after a never- ending yet splendid (7 month) ‘vacay’ were immeasurable. After not having seen anyone for that period, the familiar faces (recognisable without masks), the never- ending workload and the unconquerable nights out became nothing but a figment of my imagination. I had truly reformed back into a shadow figure of my Irish self and I completely forgot what it was like to have someone poorly attempt (and fail) to impersonate my accent… and yes, I missed that!

Let me begin by saying that I was terrified at the possibility of facing a term of isolation in my staircase with all the COVID-19 restrictions waiting at the front door. However, we were fortunate enough that Churchill College took into consideration the fact that students returning could be susceptible to seclusion and loneliness and therefore presented us with the chance to pick two friends to share a staircase with.

It was great to see that the college understood the importance of mental health and the detrimental effects that Covid had on students in terms of the risks of solitude. Therefore, I can only describe the opportunity given to us to create our bubble with one word- beannacht- (Irish for blessing).

Dear Charlotte and Karim, the best household friends…

I want to write this article in order to assure you all that it is possible to still be happy despite the imminent sensation that the world is coming to an end (and if that is the case you heard me predict it here first!) I will not deny the fact that I am very fortunate this year to have been given the chance to share a household with two friends- because otherwise I probably would be writing an article on how much I detest college for my misery. (Charlotte and Karim, this piece is for you guys!)

There has been no shortage of laughter with these two; we have found ourselves bonding over tortellini pasta which we all now find tasteless and bland (maybe because we’ve been eating it all day every day), we have had lovely encounters with the others in the household (who consist of mostly freshers) and it is brilliant to see that they have all bonded so well in our staircase.

We took the liberty of creating a staircase group chat which we use as a celebratory platform for when we learn that we have once again successfully tested negative for COVID *sighs with relief*. But perhaps the most prominent part of our friendship this year is the myriad of cups of tea we go through a day together, the first message of the day being “anyone for a cuppa?” God I can never say no to these guys.

We never want to see tortellini again


Despite being overwhelmed with happiness and triumph on how amazing my household situation has been this year; I am not completely selfish and unaware of the fact that this is certainly not the case for all. I have been in contact with some individual freshers who have given me an insight into what their household lives have been like for them.

Among these, I spoke with Lucy Horobin, a fresher at Churchill doing languages. She gave me a perception into the life of her staircase: “I’m starting to feel like I’m part of the Big Brother cast at this rate.”

Despite not knowing anyone from Churchill initially before coming, she explained to me that her staircase, which are all predominantly freshers, are having the time of their lives. This is due to the fact that they have built up a strong household foundation by doing themed nights, watching Netflix series (probably by now all sharing the same account…) dressing up as someone else in the household (which I found extremely entertaining) and perhaps the most important form of bonding  *socialising* – because what better way to make friends than having slurry conversations.

A piece of advice from one student to another

My advice to students in all Colleges at Cambridge is to start off with the people in your household. I am by no means implying that everyone’s situation is going to be a walk in the park, but I can go by experience as a fresher last year (regardless of the freedom I had pre-Covid).

Please make sure to check up on people in your households whether they’re your close friends or not! Think about the many students (especially international students) who could be facing a term of loneliness, and reach out to them. A cup of tea or a cheeky wee glass of wine (perhaps maybe two bottles) could go a long way in terms of making friendships.


We love a good cuppa and some goss

There is nothing more important during these times than reinforcing the importance of household unity and solidarity. And, if it does come to the stage where you find yourself in lockdown with your household, I can guarantee that this will be a good experience in terms of making friendships and stepping outside your comfort zone. To top it all off, as a famous proverb once stated, “Knock and the door will be opened” (quite literally knock on your neighbour’s door and make yourself a friend!)

All images are author’s own.