We asked Sheff students spending lockdown in the US what it’s really like
‘I don’t see this coming to an end anytime soon’
America is the centre of the global pandemic. For these Sheffield students, experiencing such a drastic change to their own country was something they never expected. They all left the US in September, excited and ready to start a new journey in Sheffield, only to return home in March or July to a deadly virus sweeping through their cities and a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd.
They came back to an unrecognisable place, and although for many there seems to be no end in sight to the virus in the US, they have high hopes all will turn for the better in the near future. We asked Andrea, Kaire, and Charlotte about life back home in the United States.
“I do not see this coming to an end anytime soon”
Andrea Lopez just finished her Master’s degree and is currently living in Miami, Florida. She left Sheffield in March, the day before the US borders closed for people in the UK. She told The Tab: “I was afraid the restriction would last longer than usual and I would be stuck, away from my family.”
Andrea says the cases in her city are drastically going up again and she avoids going out unnecessarily. “Before, I would hang out with friends and family, but now things have changed. I see my family every two weeks, but I haven’t seen my friends since I arrived. We no longer go to restaurants to eat, even though some are open with social distancing guidelines. Instead, we order takeout or delivery to our homes.
“It’s embarrassing to see the numbers go up because people refuse to wear masks when going out. People here think it’s an inconvenience to them, they do not think about how they can prevent others from getting the virus. This could have been prevented if people simply followed rules and if, in the beginning, the government made these rules a bit more strict. I do not see this coming to an end any time soon.”
Andrea hopes to return to Sheffield for graduation in January.
“It feels like I’m in a Twilight zone”
Kaire Kane is an international student from New York, studying International Business and Marketing. She left Sheffield last month and will continue her studies in the US. She said: “Coming back, the airports were so empty, a drastic change compared to a few months ago. There were only a few people. The waiting line was quick and in the plane I had the seating all to myself and unlimited snacks.
“My life changed drastically, especially coming back from NYC. It’s weird to see the majority of places closed. Sidewalks and streets are not as busy. It feels like I’m in a Twilight zone. Here, gyms, clubs, and other large social gatherings are not open. Some businesses are open but under social distancing rules. I think the virus forced everyone to pay more attention. It stopped our daily normal lives.”
“Being in lockdown in student accommodation got a little boring and lonely at times”
Charlotte Flores is studying Politics and Philosophy. She left Sheffield this month and is living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Charlotte says it is nice to be back with her family and friends as living in student accommodation got boring and lonely. “Being stuck indoors can definitely have a negative effect on one’s mental health and I think being home can help with that. I missed my family, pets, and the beautiful desert landscapes here in New Mexico, so in a way, it’s definitely been nice to come back and I feel like I have more space and support.”
Charlotte is currently under a two weeks quarantine, a requirement in her state for people coming back. “My state was strict with the virus regulations from the start. Things have gotten a bit worse as time has gone on. Most non-essential shops and restaurants are closed and recently, our governor also implemented a fine for anyone going out in public without a mask. These regulations haven’t been a problem for me as I’d already gotten used to them in Sheffield.”
She said she’s planning on flying back to Sheffield in September and will adhere to the two-week quarantine regulation. “The US will continue to get worse, so it may be best for me to come to the UK. My family and I are taking things one day at a time which is all I think we can do at this point. For now, I plan to enjoy my summertime at home, maybe go hiking, and see a few of my friends – socially distanced of course.”