Corona Comes Calling

May 1 2020 Ella Burke 5th Year

It’s almost two months since quarantine and social distancing began and I have to say I have grown accustomed to this life. Recently, it doesn’t bother me that I can’t go to concerts or go shopping. Even though I miss my friends, I don’t mind not being able to meet up with them because I can just call them whenever I need. I had always thought of myself and an extrovert but now I’m beginning to think that the introvert in me is loving this! Now I no longer feel guilty about going up to my room and closing the door just to have some ‘me time’, and I no longer feel like I’m wasting time binging an entire Netflix TV series. I realised I finally have the time to do the things I normally wouldn’t and I have to say it has been lovely.

Baking

I have always loved baking, but I’ve found it especially therapeutic since the start of Fifth Year, and since the lockdown I’ve thrown myself into it. At first, I began with basic cupcakes and began to experiment with different flavours and icing. Every few days I was back in the kitchen, blaring my tunes and baking something new. I went from lemon cupcakes to orange cookies, to brownies and much more. Any time I felt stressed or unproductive, I would break out my apron and head for the kitchen. This has been such a great way to pass the time and it was also a great morale boost for my parents and my brother. When Easter came, I decided to go all out and made a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake and a tiramisu. I also wanted to do something nice for my neighbours, so I made around 50 buns and left them on their doorstep, making sure I kept my distance. Seeing their faces light up and their reactions to just a few buns was definitely the best thing I have got out of quarantine so far. I think baking makes me feel so good because I can bring joy to others in a time that they really need it.

Walking

I live in the city and have always been a ‘city girl’. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved the countryside but I just love the buzz of living in the city. Many of my friends live in the suburbs, where they have access to gorgeous scenic routes with fields galore, but I think there is something exciting about walking around Cork city, which currently resembles a ghost town. My brother and I went for a walk into town the other day (don’t worry it’s well within in my 2 km radius!) and it was definitely a strange experience walking down Pana with no people around. I felt like I was in an old Western movie and was expecting tumbleweed to be blowing across the streets. One strange observation I made was when we got to Oliver Plunkett Street and there was no man selling the Echo. I think I really missed hearing him yell ‘Evening Echo’ as I walked past. The strangest one, however, was when I was walking through a neighbourhood in St Luke’s and there in the front garden of someone’s house was a heron, sunning himself and clearly not bothered by me. Nature is definitely reaping the rewards from this.

School

Walking down Patrick’s Hill and seeing the gates to St Angela’s closed gave me a pang of sadness. Normally by now we would be having lunch out on the pitch (even though we’re technically not supposed to), soaking up the sun and getting ready for summer. I definitely miss clearing out my locker and the feeling of freedom and relief of finishing exams. I definitely have a huge appreciation for St Angela’s and I took a lot of those little things for granted. I’m definitely going to cherish every moment of next year back in school, especially as it’s going to be my last. They say your school days are the best in your life and now I realise that that’s very true.

Mental Health

This is definitely a time when people’s anxiety levels are on the rise, and it’s so important to make sure that we’re looking after ourselves during quarantine. I found that finding a routine has really helped me. When quarantine began I acted as if I was on holiday, sleeping in until 11 am and staying up late watching movies. But this only made my body feel confused and out of sorts, so I had to change it. I now get up every morning at half eight and there’s something about the morning that makes me feel productive. I try to follow a normal school day, but it’s easier said than done. The most important thing I find is getting out for a walk or a run. There is nothing like fresh air to boost your energy levels and clear your head. I’ve also tried not to spend too much time on social media, as everyone appeared to be posting about how productive they were feeling. This only made me feel worse if I had an unproductive day. In the end I decided to do a ‘detox’ of social media, and I already feel much better for it. I think the most important thing to do at the moment is to be kind to ourselves. We need to give ourselves a little more credit, I think. If you had a bad day and literally got nothing done, that’s OK, there’s always tomorrow.