Testimony: Expat life in London during the Coronavirus Pandemic
This article was published on BlogExpat.com on 27 April, 2020
BlogExpat.com has decided to collect testimonies from expatriates experimenting the effects of the Covid-19 crisis in their host country.
Here is a “confinement” postcard from Margo in London, UK.
I’ve been an expat since 2003. My husband and I moved from the United States to the UK, then to France, and now we’re living in London, England again. Since the coronavirus has struck, our world is different than it was just a few months ago.
Life in the UK
The UK is on lockdown, meaning that we are only supposed to leave our homes once per day for a walk and to keep a distance of 6 feet apart. We are allowed to go out for necessities, such as food and medicine but are advised to do so as infrequently as possible. We’ve been instructed to stay home, but there are no papers to carry when we go out or fines like there are in other European countries. There are policemen patrolling to make sure people are keeping their social distance and not congregating – and, as far as I can tell, people are complying. It’s quite a change, but we are constantly reminded by that we are staying home to save lives – to protect others as well as ourselves.
My favourite public service announcement from Channel 4 says: “Britain, when was the last time you did something that really mattered with your arse? We need your buttocks. No ifs, just butts. We’ll beat this faster clenched together on the sofa. Stay at home – save lives.” Of course, it’s accompanied by various images of bottoms and it always makes me smile. You can see it HERE.
National Health Service
I’m quite happy to be in the UK during this time, because I feel they are managing the crisis as well as they can. We are updated daily by government officials, scientists, and medical experts who are constantly monitoring the situation and adjusting their predictions and advice.
I was identified from my medical records as being in the high-risk category. That just means that if I would get the disease, I would have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill because of other health conditions.
Because of this, I’m receiving text messages from the NHS (National Health Service) almost daily with tips about how to keep safe. I’ve also received a phone call from my doctor just to check and see if I had any questions about how to keep myself safe and to see if I needed help with getting food or medicine. Fortunately, my husband and I are getting along just fine. The UK is our home and we have no plans to go anywhere else.
Working from Home
As far as work goes, I’m used to working from home, so there’s no change for me. My husband, on the other hand, has a business and he had to quickly think about changing the way his company does business.
Because we had a good IT system in place, everyone was able to move to working from home rather seamlessly. Even though our lives are still busy, they somehow seem calmer.
I think it’s important during these unsettled times to keep our minds occupied with positive thoughts and do things we find interesting. I’m continuing to write about the places I’ve been, and I’ve been reading or listening to audio books, and I’ve even taken up colouring.
I didn’t colour before, but now I find it relaxing. I look for black and white line drawings online and colour them in on my iPad. I have a program called Procreate, but you could just as easily print them and colour them in the old-fashioned way. There’s something about paying attention to the small details, that’s calming.
Staying Positive and Staying Connected
Many people have been responding to their confinement in a positive way by posting funny clips on Facebook. Others, who have more talent than I have, are making music videos. Museums and theatres are making videos available so people can be intellectually stimulated. There’s no reason for anyone to be bored.
If this pandemic had to happen, this is the best time in history for people to be able to cope with it. With the internet, we can all stay connected. Of course, we would rather be in the same room, but a video chat is the next best thing – and years ago, that wouldn’t have been possible.
Everything has changed, but people are resilient, and we’re coping. We’re finding that the whole world is connected and that what we do has an impact on others. We’re learning new ways to do things, and when this is finally over, and life returns to normal, we may find that we have a new normal. As expats, we may just have an advantage, as we are always adjusting to a new definition of normal.
Find more about Margo Lestz on her blog CuriousRambler.com.