I had to self-isolate in Edinburgh and this is a breakdown of what it was like

Hint: there’s a lot of wine involved

Right now in Edinburgh, it kind of feels like everyone you know is going through self-isolation. The streets are dead because of new restrictions in pubs and restaurants but also because all of the students are stuck inside.

I recently underwent just under two weeks inside with my flat. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. It wasn’t all bad though. And fortunately, none of us actually got the virus.

This is what it was like to be self-isolating in Edinburgh for two weeks.

Day 1

So, it’s finally happened. Today, we received word that our time had come, and we would have to isolate for the next two weeks. None of us were showing symptoms, but we had been in contact with someone who tested positive just a couple days previously. After several frantic calls back to the parents and an almost teary flat meeting, we set out for what was to be not only our final Lidl trip, but also our final journey outside for two weeks to come.

Despite what had seemed to be significant planning beforehand, we emerged from the supermarkets with a nonsensical variety of foods to get us through the weeks to come. This included freezer pizzas, kilos of pasta, a near-crate of instant noodles and no less than six mozzarella balls (for mental health). While we may develop some form of scurvy over the coming days due to lack of fruits and vegetables, we should be able to last quite a while off noodle-based dinners alone. So far, so good.

Not pictured: the 2 other balls of mozzarella we had eaten by the time this photo was taken

Day rating: 7/10

Day 2

Today, having alerted our respective private stories of what was unfolding, our DMs were flooded with kind offers from friends to drop off anything we could need (wine) if we found ourselves running low on supplies.

Additionally, to combat the ultimate FOMO that comes with isolation, I opened my windows to create the sensation of actually being outside. We also put up signs in our windows calling for our fellow Marchmont residents to deliver essentials (bagels and wine) if they could find it in the kindness of their hearts to do so. We have not yet received any gifts.

Desperate times…

Day rating: 8/10 

Day 3

Despite yesterday being not bad, things have taken a turn. The collective mood in the flat is low as it has begun to set in that we really can’t leave the house at all for the next two weeks. While we know that this is of course a necessary evil, there is a certain feeling of claustrophobia that comes with being stuck in one space for so long.

We are also definitely beginning to feel phantom Covid symptoms. I spent today crippled by a headache and mild nausea, with a cough that seemed to appear only when someone mentioned the word “cough”. One of the flatmates was experiencing similar symptoms, so we spent a fair amount of time today researching tests and telling our parents, that yes, we really were actually very sick. Finished the day off with a decongestant and an early night.

Day rating: 3/10 

Day 4

Miraculously, any signs of illness experienced yesterday have vanished, and the full flat has been restored to health. This boost in physical wellbeing resulted in a significant rise in mental wellbeing for me today: I did uni work! Took a yoga class! Read a book!

Today felt like the period of lockdown where everyone was baking bread and watching Tiger King. There was still hope for a future. That was, until, we all had a breakdown at (SPOILER ALERT) Marc winning star baker on Bake Off.

Today was also bin day, so our one lucky flatmate who was on bin rota this week did get to leave the house momentarily (with mask on of course) to empty the bins. Honestly, it’s something I never thought I would be upset not to do. After the three minutes it took her to walk down the street to the bin and back, Ellen reported feeling “at peace”. Another day passes, bringing us another day closer to freedom.

Rowan ready to go on her bin trip!

Day rating: 8/10

Days five and six were a stir-crazy blur, and I remember nothing.

Day 7

Finally, a sign! We woke up today to find that our prayers had been answered, and the flat across the street had answered our wine based cries for help quite beautifully with a sign asking “red or white?” We gave our response (red or echo falls <3) and waited for our knights in wine coloured armour to come to our rescue. Whoever said that you couldn’t make friends while locked inside was lying to you.

In terms of morale, spirits are still relatively high in the flat, considering that the majority of our classes are online, and we are all quite busy with work. The gift of a beautiful bottle of red wine was delivered by our lovely neighbours around mid-day (still too many classes left to crack that one open yet) with the promise of hangman games whenever we wanted to get us through the rest of our work.

our beautiful handiwork

Day rating: 9/10

Did day eight even happen?

Day 9

The iso-psychosis arrived in full form today. After an argument about butter vs non-dairy spreads, we decided the only thing left for us to do was to get dressed up, take some Tinder photos and have a games night.

Armed with our gifted bottle of wine and a homemade Kahoot, we spent the better part of the evening playing Cards Against Humanity and photo roulette. There’s nothing to make you feel good about life like putting on a fancy dress and some stupid shoes and dancing about your own living room. Being locked indoors for a week has really made me realise that you don’t need a reason to get fancy or to drink copious amounts of wine. Sometimes a night in can be just as exciting as a trip to the club (that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves at least). The mess we left will no doubt take several hours of hoovering to clear up tomorrow, but absolute destruction is the ultimate sign of a good party, right? One of my flatmates did drunkenly join the army reserves, but we won’t talk about that.

Before it all went wrong…

Day rating: 8/10

Day 10

Having a hangover without even leaving the house is never a good thing. Apparently the mistakes of the night before will still come back to haunt you the next morning even if you didn’t end up at Hive. Netflix in bed for today.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is all I have left

Day rating: 3.5/10 (two points for the two-minute noodles I had for lunch)

Day 11

Having just about recovered from the carnage of yesterday, we are back in the swing of things, getting through the inevitable Sunday checklist of cleaning the entire house and frantically doing all the lectures I have ignored before Monday rolls around. Even when locked in the house some things, including my very strong procrastination instinct, just don’t change.

Day rating: 5/10 (just another brick in the isolation wall) 

Day 12

We have nearly made it through! Back to the grind and hustle of the working week today, with a full day of lectures, tutorials and seemingly endless reading. One of our mates was kind enough to drop off a package of lovingly made brownies for us all, which definitely helped to break up the monotony of today.

There is nothing quite like finishing the day off, with a pub quiz! One positive side to being locked up now is that no one else is getting out either (thanks for that one Nicola) so there are Zoom activities aplenty for us to join in on. Tonight’s quiz was run by Quizsoc and featured rounds written by THE university challenge team (Big up Niamh!) so unsurprisingly, we didn’t do very well (how were we supposed to know what an octobass is?). However, we will take almost any opportunity to drink beer on a weekday, even if we do embarrass ourselves in front of several BNOCs.

Day rating: 8/10 (for the brownies) 

Day 13

The final day has finally arrived. The sense of an ending was hanging in the air throughout lectures today, and while the majority of it all passed without anything too exciting happening, we finished as we started: watching Bake Off. The gift of brownies was beautifully timed with Chocolate week, and watching Peter succeed in his showstopper (I thought cinnamon sounded GREAT in a brownie actually Paul Hollywood) made us remember what we are doing it for.

Considering we were all able to make it through the programme without tears today really showed us that we’ve grown over this time. It may have only been just over a week, but we learnt a lot about ourselves and the lengths one can push the human mind to before it breaks. An early night again tonight to prep for the outside world tomorrow. We’ve made it boys.

Day rating: 9/10 (for the last day Bake Off celebration)

Day 14

Who can believe its finally ended? After the trials, tribulations, hangovers and tears that have stained the past two weeks, we are finally out the other side. Sadly, today has proved rainy and miserable, so our getting outside options are rather limited, but it was all sweet nonetheless. Our iso journey really has been one of self discovery.

Even though we spent a very considerable chunk of it complaining about how ready we were to get out, there is a small part of me that quite enjoyed our own little lock-in. There is nothing like being stuck with yourself for an extended period of time to force you to think about what you do want from normal life when it returns. Over this period, we as a flat have spent more time together than is healthy for anyone to spend with other people. I’m so glad that we had each other. There are no people I’d rather be trapped in a tiny flat with for two weeks.

Proof we left the house! Best Lidl trip of our lives!

Well, aside from Peter from Bake Off, of course.

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