Picnics with hand sanitizer and Dark Fruits: my Pandemic summer

By Madeleine Rosie Strom

In the second article of Features Summer Plans series, Maddie Strom tells us about how she is making her own fun this summer.

To say that I am a “planner” is an understatement. I keep my diary with me at all times, the pages scribbled with “to do lists” and “things to remember” in black biro. So when I had to scratch out my plans for the summer (including the LOVEBOX festival and an internship), I realised that this security in planning ahead was now something I could no longer cling onto.

There are times I feel lost without a concrete plan of action. Yet, I am now finding solace in enjoying each day as it comes. Most recently, I have been falling in love with reading again. Like many other humanities students I know, whilst we have to read for our course, reading for pleasure was an activity that I certainly did not devote time to. Currently, I am staining my copy of “Normal People” with tears, but perhaps watching the TV show first has led to my emotions already being projected, knowing the fate of many characters.

Maybe I will have to just dance around my room instead of a field but hey, pandemic life just hits different.

It seems to be a meme of sorts that extroverted people would find lockdown the most insufferable. I am inclined to agree. As much as I love the pub, I can’t say I am willing to venture into one any time soon. Most of my summers are filled with nights in Wetherspoons or out at restaurants in Central London with friends. Summer was a time to reconnect with friends from home who are at other Universities, or see Durham pals who also live in the same area. Human contact and company was something I took for granted. For now, I am enjoying picnics in the local park with one or two friends. Hand sanitizer in one hand and a pack of Dark Fruits in the other, I have never felt more like my 16 year old self. 

For many humanities students, the future looks bleaker than ever. Whilst I was aware that my degree in Philosophy could potentially set me back as I watched my Medicine and Engineering friends plan out their careers, COVID has truly made the future seem a terrifying prospect. So, it seems that there is no better time than this summer to research Panic Masters and Grad Schemes I May Have To Kill Someone For. I know I am not alone in my worries, perhaps there is something quite soothing about that. Gen Z was the age where one is meant to enjoy being young, but now we are forced to be more aware of the difficulties that come with getting older. TargetJobs is probably my number one searched website this summer, perhaps falling second to Tetris (a brilliant exam break distraction in my opinion). 

Hand sanitizer in one hand and a pack of Dark Fruits in the other, I have never felt more like my 16 year old self.

Cheer up Madeleine, you may be thinking. It’s not all doom and gloom! Now that the Gods of Human Rights have now deemed non essential travel as something we can actually do (not just a dream or fantasy), it looks like a camping trip in the Lake District is on the cards. Staycations are the new Inter-railing it seems – something I am not complaining about. Grabbing your mates, hopping in the car and chatting a load of rubbish over the camp fire couldn’t seem better right now. 

Yes, I couldn’t wear my glitter flares and dance at a festival, or adorn my suit and update my LinkedIn, but this summer seems like one I could hardly see myself forgetting. So, maybe I will have to just dance around my room instead of a field but hey, pandemic life just hits different .

Image: Jennie Clavel via Unsplash

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