Life During Lockdown: Blessing or Curse?

Shrin Ali, left, and Aisha Bakkar, right, both resettled from Syria in Northern Ireland, at Warrenpoint Municipal Park, County Down, Northern Ireland, December 2020 (Photo by Brian McAlinden)

If anyone told me a year ago that everybody will be locked down in his house, and we will see the biggest cities in the world empty and look like ghost towns, I would have told him that he is crazy!!!

However here we are, all trying to adapt to our new situation.

My name is Aisha. I am a 33 year old Syrian woman. I left Syria because of the war. I moved with my family to Northern Ireland about 14 months ago.

I have three daughters: Sundos, 14; Salam, 13; and Yasmien, six years old .

We were just started to settle down in our new country, my daughters get registered at schools, and started to make new friends. Me and my husband were attending class to improve our English level, and I was taking driving lessons to get a UK driving license and be able to buy a car.

Northern Ireland has been through two lockdowns – March-May and September-mid-December 2020. On December 11, the second lockdown was eased as distribution of a vaccine began. Holiday shoppers poured into the streets of Belfast as businesses did their best to keep customers safe. (Photo by Eric Ray) Creative Commons license via Flickr

So you can say that everything was on the right track for us.

Then Covid-19 arrived !! Suddenly everything stopped ! And we became prisoners in our home.

I can’t deny at first I thought that this lockdown could be a good break from our busy life, and it might help us relax a bit to recharge ourselves with new energy. Anyway, soon enough I discovered that it’s going to be a really hard time for us, unless we found a way to kill all that free time we have. Otherwise, boredom could turn into

depression which might become a serious problem.

Mobilizing free time has never been an easy task. I was lucky to have some online classes, which gave me something to do and filled some of my day time, but sure I had to organize some activities to help my daughters and entertain them so they don’t feel like they are grounded.

Baking, cooking , drawing, and coloring were some of the activities we did together. We also played some indoor games that we had learnt from the internet.

Doing exercises and sports was the most difficult thing to do, so we came up with the evening party idea. We play music and dance together in random ways just to have fun and to move our bodies as it was not safe to do sports outside.

Killing time was not the only problem during the quarantine. Even the simplest tasks became so difficult to do. Buying groceries turned into a mission which requires extra care and attention to not bring the virus with you home.

That is especially dangerous because my husband suffers from a heart condition, which puts him at huge risk if he catches this virus.

For that I needed to be extra careful.

The worst thing during the lockdown was that the health services like GP, dentists and opticians were closed, and they would only provide phone call services, unless it was a really big problem.

In other words, if you are not dying you cannot see a doctor ! That was so horrible, especially for people like me , who can not speak English very well and that makes describing symptoms so difficult. All that made a few health issues I had during the quarantine a very bad experience. Thank God they were simple, otherwise it was going to be a disaster. But of course all those measures were necessary to help doctors with their fight against the fast spreading of the virus, how were real heroes and I truly appreciate all of their hard work.

Anyway, no one would expect a quarantine to be a lovely experience, and when I think about what others had to deal with during this unusual time, starting from losing jobs to losing loved ones and even losing their lives, I found nagging on about my lockdown problems is a silly thing to do.

However, that was my experience with the lockdown.

And my daughter Sundos Would like to talk about hers:

Quarantine in a Teenager’s Eyes.

Who would think a global pandamic could change our lives and become a nightmare for the whole entire world?

I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Sundos Hammoud, a 14-year-old Syrian girl .

I came to Northern Ireland about a year ago. I did not enjoy it at first, because I was afraid of trying new stuff, or meeting new people and I missed all of my friends and the place I grew up in.

Sometimes I regret it. I regret not fighting my fears, not going outside, not making new friends. Then I got into school and I met new friends and I learned the language. The education system was so different and I liked it this way.

Then quarantine happened. Everyone thought it was going to be a week or two and everything was going to be alright but it did not.

I enjoyed it at first because I finally had some extra sleep in the morning. I drew a little, I got more time to spend on things I like, I made a lot of internet friends.

Surprisingly, I learned in these six months more than the school ever taught me. I tried a lot of new stuff. I got into K-pop because of quarantine and I can say it was the best design I made in my whole life.

K-pop group Blackpink at the 2020 Asian Music Awards, November 24, 2020 (Photo by Budiey) Creative Commons license via Flickr)

Becoming a K-pop stan is like becoming a part of a big family. It is something you would never understand unless you are a k-pop fan. I learned how to love myself, how to be confident, and I made not only close friends, I have got a big family.

I am a multi stan to a lot of K-pop groups like BTS, Blackpink, Got7, Tomorrow X Together, Seventeen, Ateez, Stray Kids, and many more groups.

A lot of people don’t understand how beautiful K-pop is. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but they judge songs by their language.

During lockdown I spent more time with my family. I knew more about them even though I spend most of my time in my room, because I used to move my entire life.

So, I got tired of making a new life every time we move to a new place so I start creating a bubble for myself. I started to not like people and I was seeing them as shadows. I am afraid of liking someone and have to leave again .

The coronavirus was like a bomb to our world, it destroyed our education and took our health and the people we love and some people lost their jobs and others lost their lives. We are sitting in our comfort zones while some people are suffering around the world and we were left with no other option but to watch, without being able to help, we opened our eyes on a world we didn’t even know we live in .

After quarantine everything changed. I feel the world has become a big prison. Everyone should wear a mask and it is not fun at all for me. And do not let me start on Google classroom. It is so annoying and it doesn’t even work most of the time. After all the things Covid-19 taught us about us are really scary. We should be thankful that everything is kind of getting better. Hopefully 2021 will be less crazy. Hope you have a great day. Please protect your self, wear your mask.

By Sundos Hammoud and Aisha Bakkar

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