My lockdown journey took me halfway around the world

I had to scramble for my possessions and rush out of Sheff

Getting a surprise call at 7am from my parents halfway across the globe, telling me to come back home immediately wasn’t something I ever thought I would experience.

This is the story of what followed – a hectic three days of scrambling for available flights, packing almost all my belongings, and saying a hasty goodbye to university life.

Following my parent’s call, I was told to come back home as soon as possible after news broke out that countries had started closing their borders.

Travelling home meant crowded airports and long queues

At that moment, I was hesitant to accept a 24-hour journey home with looming deadlines and further uncertainties.

However, lockdowns all around meant it was either a choice of going back home now or possibly never having the chance.

A few hours later, I received confirmation from my department on the suspension of face-to-face teaching. At this point, I searched for flights and reached out to friends who were also in the same situation.

Going back for me meant a 7,000-mile journey to Indonesia involving at least one layover, which I chose carefully due to infection risks at certain airports. I eventually decided on a 12 hr flight from London with transit in Brunei.

Upon arriving in London after a 3-hour commute from Sheffield, I was refused a boarding pass as the airline had been told by the government to only allow citizens of the country of each destination onboard, banning layovers altogether.

Countless queries and back-and-forth calls resulted in a replacement flight via Singapore. After receiving booking details, I was forced to queue for two hours at the manual check-in desk before sprinting to the boarding gate as “final call” blasted out the sound system.

Even TikTok couldn’t kill 12 hours

After a departure delay at Heathrow and the longest flight I’d ever taken in my life, I landed in Singapore only to miss my connecting flight to Indonesia.

Fortunately, kind staff replaced my ticket with the next available flight, which turned out to be 12 hours away at 6 am. Nevertheless, I was still grateful and the all-nighter began.

The first thing I did was eat Curry Laksa (a staple dish in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia). I love a good chippy (shoutout to Brenda’s in the Moor), but home just hits differently.

Over the next couple of hours, I spent my time scouring the airport for Asian food and snacks I hadn’t had in months. Some friends called in whilst others suggested amusing boredom tactics from TikTok to writing essays. I was too tired to try any of them.

Upon arriving home, I had been through over 48-hours of travel and transit. Leaving behind UK friends and adjusting to online classes with a six-hour time difference is tough.

As international students, we can’t wait to be back once this is all over.