November 3, 2020
As many of you probably heard, on Saturday Boris Johnson announced what amounts to a nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the recent resurgence of coronavirus infections across England. The new measures go into effect on Thursday, November 5 and are expected to last until December 2. The communication I’ve received from Churchill College suggests that, while happenings off-campus will be significantly altered (all non-essential businesses closed, travel limited), university operations will continue largely unchanged.
Luckily, the changing pandemic situation has not had much effect on my degree in particular. I’m studying towards a master’s in applied math and theoretical physics. “Part III Math,” as it is commonly known, has been entirely online so far. My general relativity professor, Harvey Reall, made the Center for Mathematical Sciences his virtual lecture background—but that’s about as close as I get to CMS. The bright side of online courses is that my ability to do productive work isn’t significantly altered by pandemic-related safety measures. That is obviously not the case for most lab-based research. Still, it does seem that labs will be able to continue operations, at least in the limited capacity that they have so far.
Online classes have meant that I spend much of the day working in my room, but I’ve been lucky to participate in a few activities that draw me out of the house. Last month I began tap dancing again, a hobby I enjoyed during high school but lost track of in college. I also had a wonderful time stage-managing for Dragtime!, Cambridge’s premier student drag troupe. Their Halloween show, “#squadghouls,” took place live every night in the ADC theater to an empty house, with two camera operators livestreaming the show. The performers wore face coverings up until the moment they stepped on stage, and the crew was responsible for sanitizing all props, tech equipment, and touch points fastidiously before and after every use.
Needless to say, Dragtime’s show will be one of the last in ADC theater this term due to the impending lockdown. Dance classes, too, are cancelled for the remainder of term. I have therefore been feeling especially grateful over the last few days for my housemates in 64 Storey’s Way. We have an unusually large household—11 in total—and about half of us are Churchill scholars. I’ve had such a good time playing lawless rounds of Among Us with them into the wee morning hours, and our family dinner every Sunday always proves to be my best meal of the week.
While no one wants to say goodbye to activities and social life, I of course feel glad that the British government has decided to take action; indeed, I wish we had shut down sooner. The new measures will save lives and bring us closer to the end of the pandemic. So I hope that we can navigate the coming changes with empathy, intentionality, and an eye towards the future.