How to survive a lockdown in Cambridge: From someone who has done it before

Not to boast, but as it’s my third lockdown in Cambridge you might say I’m a bit of an expert

With the announcement of Lockdown 3.0 and Lent term being completed online, the world outside has never felt more empty. If, like me, you find yourself in Cambridge during this time, you may have started to feel a sense of despair (more than the normal amount you signed up for when you applied). If this is the case, then don’t panic— we’ve got your back

There’s no denying that lockdown 3.0 will be tough, and being in a university environment may add to that. Still, we survived it before and we can survive it again, so here’s some advice from myself, now an expert in experiencing lockdown in Cambridge: 

Turn your weekly trip to Mainsbury’s into a fashion show

Essential shopping is for more than just stocking up on your groceries. It’s about expressing yourself, the bakery section of Sainsbury’s is your stage. Work it. A great opportunity to put effort into your appearance for all the potential Crushbridge admirers but also, and perhaps more importantly, to remind yourself that you have still got it.  

Remember, respiratory safety is the only accessory that goes with everything. Masks will add the finishing flair to any outfit (Photo credits: Fatima Eshani)

Wearing something over the top that makes you feel extra fabulous can be a real mood booster — and trust me, a mood boost is something we could all do with at the moment. With the added benefit of all the other shoppers thinking you’ve got really exciting places to be, they don’t need to know the new scented fabric softener you bought is actually the highlight of your day. 

Sunrises, sunsets and stargazing 

While your crush may not have made it back to Cambridge this term, there’s still a lot of beauty to be experienced and the sky’s the limit. Catching the sunrise is a pretty nifty way to motivate yourself to get out of bed on a morning. Not to be basic but the view from Castle Mound is really pretty in the mornings and the evenings, and almost makes those early mornings worth it!

Look Simba, everything the light touches is Cambridge University. The shadowy place? Girton (Photo credits: Fatima Eshani)

During Lockdown 1.0, I discovered a free app called SkyView Lite, which was quite easily the best thing to happen to me in 2020. If you decide to take your government-approved walk deep in the night (4pm and onwards in January), you can point the app at a star or a planet, it tells you what you’re looking at. No time like Lockdown 3.0 to brush up on your constellations to impress future Tinder dates once lockdown is over. 

New friends: Gotta catch em all

Lockdown 3.0 is a great chance to recruit those friends that you made in Freshers’ Week that you always say hello to, but have never spent quality time with.

Perhaps those mates that you met in the Cindies (cri) smoking area that one time but never followed up on. Or maybe those friends that you’ve long been looking to upgrade to close-friend status. Simply ask them if they’d like to join you for a two metre, government-approved, socially-distanced walk. I promise there is no greater honour than knowing someone wants *you* to be their companion for their daily exercise. 

Please keep your distance though (Photo credits: Fatima Eshani)

Socialising has never been more challenging, but some 1:1 conversation can often feel more emotionally fulfilling than a large group social function. Everyone is in need of some emotional connection at the moment, you’ll only be doing others a favour by gracing them with your presence, even from 6.5 feet away. 

If you’re feeling decadent, or want those people to hate you, why not upgrade that walk to a run. Or if you are low on people you know in Cambridge at the moment, why not make use of Camfess for a new walking buddy? 

(Photo credits: Facebook)

There are also Facebook groups for people staying in Cambridge over Lockdown 3.0 where you could recruit potential walking friends, so why not join them and go get your dose of human interaction.

Ain’t no FaceTime call like an academically rigorous FaceTime call

If like me, Lockdown 3.0 has so far been a crossover between missing your friends and family and also realising that your productivity is in rapid descent why not organise work FaceTime calls with friends and family also trying to get work done? Time to bang out that essay that you’ve been meaning to do. 

Why not wear masks to recreate the illusion of being in-person? (Photo credits: Fatima Eshani)

Working alone may be easy for some, but for those like me with questionably low motivation levels, I promise it is much harder to procrastinate when the love and respect of people you care about is on the line. Also, it allows you to bounce ideas off someone in real-time, makes you feel less alone and increases productivity. 

Academic rigour starts for Stephen Toope but stops for no-one.

Preen your routine

Create some healthy routines, try waking up early in the morning feeling like P Diddy, having a shower, making breakfast, getting dressed up in your finest business attire (or finest pair of trackies, whatever floats your boat) and jumping on a video call work session with a mate. Days will start to feel easier when you’ve trained yourself into being used to it. 

Breakfast idea: shortcrust pastry + Nutella = fake croissants — pls don’t hurt me France x (Photo credits: Fatima Eshani)

How else did we all manage to wake up before 8am to begin six hours of sitting in a classroom for back-to-back lessons, five days a week for more than a decade? You’ve got this. 

Don’t beat yourself up

Sometimes self-care is more than face masks (the fun, non-medical kind), fluffy pyjamas and a Deliveroo.

Not for a second suggesting these are not good avenues to explore though (Image credit: Fatima Eshani)

It’s being kind to yourself, not beating yourself for not being as productive as you would in normal circumstances and taking a step back and realising you’ve survived an actual global pandemic if that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is. Being at Cambridge University, maybe? But I guess that’s you as well. 

Go easy on yourself and take that extra break, have that extra lie in, go for that walk. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it. 

Reach out to the support Cambridge has to offer

If you ever feel like you’re struggling, don’t suffer in silence! Make sure that you reach out to friends, to your college, welfare tutors, your GP, your DOS, your friends, family write a Camfess if you need to. There is always someone to support you and make your experience more comfortable. 

Also, I’d recommend a free (and very wholesome) app called Helponymous: a great way of passing the time by supporting others anonymously as well as venting and asking for advice yourself especially whilst in lockdown. 

Lockdown 3.0 isn’t going to be easy. Whether you are at home or at Cambridge, no part of this is what we signed up to. But as we all claimed on our personal statements: we thrive under an academic challenge. And if completing Lent term in a national lockdown isn’t an academic challenge, I don’t know what it is. It sucks for sure, but what I do know is, we are all going to get through this.

In the famous words of the great scholar Gloria Gaynor: “I will survive (lockdown 3.0 in Cambridge)” and so will you.

All photo credits author’s own 

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