From London to New Zealand…and Back Again During COVID-19
Back in February, when COVID-19 was causing some concerns for many people and organisations in London, I was busy stressing about how I was going to make it back to New Plymouth in New Zealand for my best mate’s wedding on the 14th of March (rather short sighted, I know). Our company’s annual training weekend in Italy had already been cancelled the week before and the Kiwis in London page was blowing up with stories of cancelled flights and travel nightmares, I was nervous but optimistic!
My flight was booked for the afternoon of the 11th and at 7pm the day before, I received the heart-breaking email that began with “To Whom it May Concern” (nice and personalised) letting me know my flight had been cancelled. Panic set in, but I was able to get a same day flight through Singapore and managed to make it to New Zealand a few days before the wedding, all who seemed to have not even heard of the looming pandemic! We celebrated love that weekend in blissful ignorance, not knowing what was around the corner.
Three days later I was in total lockdown with Mum, Dad, my sister and my legend dog Beau with my return to London which was planned for the 28th of March looking highly unlikely. The stark change from traveling the world, being extremely self-sufficient and doing what I wanted, when I wanted changed with the announcement of a four to six week total lockdown across the country. I quickly realised I was definitely not ready to move home and settle down. While a number of my high school friends were getting married and buying houses, I was busy thinking about Tomorrowland and Sziget 2021!!
The 28th rolled around and the flight was cancelled and then two further flights were cancelled in April and May so I was in this for the long-haul. What began as a 2 week holiday turned into an 11 week lockdown that was not as much fun as I had initially thought it was going to be.
I’m going to be honest and say that I did spend a day feeling sorry for myself, having to cook meals for four people anytime I was in the kitchen, cleanup for four, being stuck inside, not travelling and missing summer in London, oh and of course work 😉. This was quickly snapped out of me when I realised the magnitude of what other people were going through with the loss of family members, financial hardship and economies and businesses collapsing. This made me feel incredibly lucky to be in New Zealand with my family who were safe and healthy.
Roll on 11 weeks later and I returned to a very different London I left three months earlier. The Piccadilly line from Heathrow to Acton was completely empty (!), shops were not open and I didn’t see a single soul on the walk from the station to my home. Not to mention commencing working from home which I have never done before. All that said I was very excited to be home (in London) with my friends and back to work with some structure and direction to my days which had been lacking throughout my time in NZ.
I’ve been back at work now for the last two weeks and even the conversations have changed, there is noticeable empathy in every call with sensitivity to people’s situations which I feel is a positive to come out of a very dark time across the world. The key for me has been keeping your own situation in perspective and showing empathy and understanding to everyone you are talking to, because we have no idea how they have been affected by this. This has allowed me to see the positive in the small things throughout the day and I am hoping it has done this for others.
Take care, stay safe and stay positive!
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