Gisborne, New Zealand:
When we first went into lockdown I didn’t fully comprehend how much my day to day life was going to change. I was currently studying at Otago University until the government announced we had 60 hours until we went into Level 4 lockdown. This had students scrambling to get home and a lot of students (including international students) felt hopeless and left behind.
On my travel home, I was thinking about enjoying the surf and sun with local friends I had not seen for the past weeks. On arrival I was met with strict rules and gloomy weather. I was able to get in a quick surf on my first day home before it became a topic of hot debate. Surfing wasn’t officially banned but was frowned upon by many others. If someone were to get injured, other lives would be put at risk. Surfers couldn’t resist Wainui’s world class waves which had other beachfront residents shouting “Go do some yoga you f******* hippies” off the banks. This was definitely a two sided argument as you were more likely to get injured on a ladder at home or biking than you were surfing. Our community was torn in half and there had never been such palpable tension between neighbours. This caused such an uproar the government banned all water activity within a week of lockdown.
Trying to keep up with school work was extremely challenging for me. Online learning just wasn’t my forte and I quickly fell behind. I couldn’t just get together with my study group and have them help me. I felt alone with very little support. I lost all motivation and become quite depressed. It took a couple days of getting out of the house and exercising to get my mind right again. (We were aloud to exercise around our neighbourhood).
My mother works in the hospital and my father worked within the grocery store so we were always cautious about the way we did things. We talked at dinner about covid and all the crazy things it had people doing. We laughed about people wearing plastic bags or Stormtrooper masks (Starwars) when they went grocery shopping. My mother was extremely frustrated with how much misinformation was going around, which was clearly on display at the supermarkets. The thought of covid was constantly on my mind, a stressor that was inescapable. Fortunately we’ve only had one case of the virus within our rural city. We were very lucky to not have it any worse as our hospital only had 6 respirators.
On reflection we as a community faced problems and made sacrifices that we’ve never had to make before. After all the name calling and narking passed over, I saw a strong sense of community come through, with people helping each other where others lacked, and some conversing over the fence and having a laugh. I am grateful to live in a country where we have the resources to support each other It has been a tough learning experience but we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
13 April 2020