Hi there! Jerry, Ellie and Andreas here…

As three journalism students of different ages, gender, and social backgrounds, we will be working as a team to produce frequent pieces of extensive original reporting and interviews covering Coronavirus developments in the Brighton area, primarily focusing on both the struggles and the triumphs of students and locals alike.

As it’s Christmas, for our first piece we have decided to collectively explore how the build up at this time of year will vary from person to person, and hope to present a diverse set of perspectives as well as a little insight into who we are as individuals.

  • Will Andreas be able to travel home for christmas?
  • Looking through the travel window, what has Ellie found?
  • How will Jerry navigate Christmas on zoom?

Have a very merry Christmas, however you may be spending it.

We’ll see you in the new year!

Test

The sound of my coughing is echoed around the pastel blue sports hall, my eyes flooding while it feels like I’m soon to drill through from one nostril to the other. With a glass panel right in front of me and the NHS worker sitting 2 meters away, I’m not sure if he can hear my apologies for making such a scene. The NHS worker responds with a smile behind the protective gear. Which for now I’ve chosen to interpret as “I’ve seen worse.”

It is December 3rd, nine days have passed since The University of Sussex announced that it would offer free rapid testing of Covid 19 to their students, many of whom are to go home for Christmas. Me and my partner will fly back to our home country tomorrow, but first, two negative test results for Covid 19 must be in place. With one out of two tests negative so far, Christmas celebrations with our family are on the line today. The alternative will be ten days in self-isolation in England, before we are allowed to fly home, where there will be an additional ten days in self-isolation on arrival regardless. In other words, a positive test today will mean that we can wave this years’ Christmas celebrations with our family, goodbye.

The swab goes up in a test tube and I’m allowed to leave. Exiting what looks like an airport, with barricades separating each test station and guards making sure you walk correctly. One hour later the volume in our flat increases massively as my partner has tested negative. Two minutes later my phone vibrates, and a sudden flow of cold sweat sets in, I fiddle with the phone and scan up and down my message in a slightly arbitrary panic attack. There’s silence before I express a sigh of relief, it’s negative, and we can fly back to our home country tomorrow on December 4th, to self isolate on arrival, just in time for christmas.

By Andreas Lange

Travel

Statistics have been released by the BBC stating that 235,000 students in the South East of England will be travelling home, this is the highest number of any other areas in England. As one of the 1.2 million students heading home for Christmas over the government advised travel window, I was surprised to find myself in Brighton city centre observing an absurdly quiet Christmas rush.
In the words of the legendary Chris Rea I found myself lucky enough to be driving home for Christmas on the last day of the six-day travel period; from the 3rd to the 9th of December. Over these few days, I witnessed a buzzing Brighton, filled with shoppers looming over market stalls in the lanes, clamouring over one another – it seemed indifferent to any other week in the student inhabited city.
When spending time on campus it felt peculiarly eerie. After expecting to see hordes of students loaded with suitcases and miscellaneous items, the absence of the rushing crowds was unexpected.
Speaking to a conductor at Falmer station, I was surprised when he commented on how the travel period had not increased the number of students using the train services.
The lack of students travelling via public transport may make sense due to the government advising against it as well as Sussex University’s guidelines on the Student Hub which asks Sussex students to “travel home via private transport wherever possible”.
However, when speaking to the County Press, the director of National Express John Boughton stated; “There has been an overall increase of 122% in passengers travelling with us during the first four days of the student travel window.”
After witnessing the lack of students heading home by public transport in Brighton, it’s interesting to hear the BBC statistics as well as the numbers of students taking coaches after seeing festive coach stations no busier than any other period. It begs the question as to whether students are abiding by the rules and heading home by private transport or are ignoring the travel window altogether?

By Elena Harbinson

Home

When the number of cases steadily began to rise late spring time, the prospect of a normal christmas still felt attainable. The feeling was that by then, the world would be ‘fixed’, and on the 25th we’d all be suitably squished around the dinner table with our loved ones reflecting on the tumultuous year that was 2020.

It’s now mid December and I’m sat considering this question: How can I time cooking my roast potatoes perfectly, so that I can eat my roast at the same time as my family on a zoom call?

After all, there are currently laws separating many from their loved ones all around the world, and in theory, governments ready to enforce them. The UK ban on non essential travel has however been lifted slightly for 5 days between the 25th and the 27th of December, allowing formations of ‘christmas bubbles’, (not the kind you enjoy in a champagne glass), which enables up to three households to mix exclusively inside homes.

For those who are vulnerable themselves, those who don’t want to put a loved one at risk, and those who are estranged from families, the relaxing of the rules may not be much comfort this Christmas. Where does that leave these people?

Finding that feeling of home in the familiarity of being face to face with all of those we love may not be doable, hugs may have to be swapped for zoom calls, but perhaps the incongruity of this years Christmas adaptations, is to be an, albeit uninvited, souvenir of collective selflessness.

Or if all else fails, look at it this way: Ah christmas, the time to be with the ones you love…while they pass judgement on your life choices. We say ‘only joking’, while looking knowingly at each other.

“You had to go with the swell of change. You had to go with the change”. Joan Didion.

By Jerry Silvester

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