14 May 2020

Immy describes her experience as an international student choosing to stay in Edinburgh during the lockdown.
Edinburgh from Princes St Gardens

I decided to stay in Edinburgh instead of travelling home right before the lockdown was announced, because it was too chaotic and I was having a hard time coping with the chaos. Like everyone else around here, I am staying inside my accommodation other than for essential trips and exercise. I live just opposite the Business School, so I'm getting a good glimpse of what things are like here.

Lockdown in Edinburgh

The lockdown has made the city much quieter, but personally it's less quiet than I expected. I still see a few people riding bikes, jogging and walking around the street from my window in the evening. It doesn't really look like the apocalypse.

The shops—groceries and medicine—are still open, although the charity shops where I used to go (window) shopping for clothes are all closed. Their doors are covered in signs: "Closed until further notice". Local supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury's and Lidl are still open all day, although the operating hours have become slightly shorter. The nearby Chinese supermarkets are open for around 3 hours a day, around lunchtime.

The supermarkets are busy in the afternoon, but are very quiet in the morning and in the hour before closing. I usually go to Tesco, where they also provide hand sanitiser and alcohol spray. They organise queuing pretty well, but I prefer to go in the morning when I don't have to wait at all.

The outbreak came just at the start of spring in Scotland. The flowers are blooming, the sun shines every day, the winds are mild, the rain is rare, and everyone floods to the Meadows to take pictures. The police are everywhere in the Meadows to make sure people abide by the social-distancing policy. However, as a person who is extremely risk-averse, I have not been there at all. I only leave my flat to take the rubbish bags to the bin, and to do laundry and grocery shopping.

To be honest, I feel a bit disheartened that we are not able to enjoy the spring. It's my favourite season and does not exist in the tropical areas where I'm from; I'm only going to be here for one year, and I love walking very much. However, the healthcare system is too overwhelmed, and I don't want to risk it.

My Worries Aren't Student Related

I miss hugging my friends and walking around outside. Besides that, I don't feel that it has had much impact on my mental health. As a university student, we are busy, and spend most of our time finishing our coursework. So no matter where we are, it's not that different. I personally feel very privileged to be able to be in this position during the quarantine (shout out to the essential workers!) and have enough at hand not to feel too lonely or have time to be depressed. Mostly, I personally am not so worried about my own situation.

As a Business School student living near the university, I'm kept busy in a quiet, safe environment in my flat. I'm more concerned about people who are the most vulnerable. Even for other students around the world, their conditions are not always the same as mine. Although I have elderly parents in my home country, they are safe in their house and are not yet infected. I've heard of students whose loved ones have, unfortunately, been infected, or are mourning for their deaths. Simply put, the concerning things for us are not about being a student living around campus, but the same things that many people around the world about. It is not scary or very inconvenient to remain here.

Anyway, I just wish that this will all be over soon and that things work out for the best. Stay safe everyone!

Immy Asavabhokhin is a Thai student on the MSc in Finance, Technology and Policy