It was worrying whenever I came across articles of (young) people disregarding social distancing rules just to visit their partners during the Circuit Breaker. I'd stop to think about their flippant attitude, urging my friends to stay home through text messages and social media, and organising Zoom parties to support one another.
What I went through after getting infected by the coronavirus in March was life-changing. I thought I was living my best life in London as a foreign exchange student and I told myself, "Nah, I won't be that unlucky to get infected." But I did.
Surviving Covid-19 changed my perspective on life
In early March, I received an e-mail from the University at Buffalo, which organised the four-month programme, to return to Singapore quickly. The programme was cancelled due to the spike in the number of Covid-19 infection cases in London.
I was upset at the thought of going back so soon... here I was, only half way through the programme and contracting the virus was pretty much the least of my worries... Ignorant as I was, I went about my usual routine in London, going out and meeting friends. At that time, no social distancing measures were in place in the UK until the lockdown began on March 23.
On March 20, a day before I left London, I experienced a mild sore throat (one of the symptoms of Covid-19), and by the time I arrived in Singapore, I had a blocked nose. I tested positive for Covid-19 at Tan Tock Seng Hospital the next day, after my family doctor wrote a letter to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases about my case.
I felt so guilty for not getting tested earlier when I landed at the airport in Singapore... I had unknowingly put my parents and others at risk. My parents tested negative. But the news hit me like a brick... the spread of the virus was more serious than I had thought... it was life-threatening.
I'll never forget the scene at the hospital... doctors and nurses moving in and out of the waiting rooms urgently to attend to so many patients. I recovered a month later and in early April, I finally went home – I felt joy like never before! But a big part of me has since grown up. I now see the strict measures, like social distancing, contact tracing and mandatory isolation, as a necessity. The “old” me would've groused (endlessly) about the sheer inconvenience.
These days, my family and I stay home more often, compared to how much we used to go out in the past. I've also become more conscious about personal hygiene such as washing my hands, because recovering from the virus doesn’t guarantee that one is immune from it.
But my friends and I are most worried about our future. We graduate in a year's time, and each of us go to bed every night wondering if we could land a job like our seniors once we graduate. What if the unemployment rate is at an all-time high... what then for us? These are very real scenarios... I figure I'll take things as they come. Despite my worries, I keep myself focused. I've adjusted to the stay-home routine with to-do lists, and by chatting with friends on Zoom and spending more time with my family. I've also become more intentional about connecting with people who matter to me, rather than just indulging in social activities and having fun outside of home.