As the UK enters its third week of Covid-19 lockdown, with schools across the country currently closed to all but key workers and learning at Westbourne now fully online, we take a moment to arrange a Skype with two of our remaining international boarding students to gain an insight into Boarding Life in Lockdown.
Whilst many of our students have been able to return home, a number remain with us in the UK, cared for by Ms Janette, our Boarding Parent in the safe confines of the Boarding House. We talk to IB Diploma students, Kristhitha, from India and Dharani, from Malaysia to find out how life under lockdown really is.
Krishitha: It’s very nice to be honest, we have been managing really well, we’re there for each other. So, I like it so far.
Dharani: I agree, we’re at a point in the boarding house that there’s so few of us that our whole lifestyle has changed. The lack of boarding house staff (due to government lockdown rules) aside from Ms Janette means we’re much more of a community and a family. We have more meetings, there’s a rota and everyone is taking responsibility. In that sense, we’re closer, which is kind of nice.
Even though we’re so far away from home, it’s very nice to be here as well. In the beginning, people were nervous and trying to wash their hands all the time, now everyone’s a lot more at ease, all our routines are working out together with the new rotas, so everyone is a bit calmer and life is going on!
D: (As outside staff are not allowed into the lockdown) We have dishes, kitchen duties and laundry duties. We all have timings to use the kitchen as we’re all cooking our own food. Everyone knows what has to be done and there is a structure.
K: I had never done online learning before. It was a bit hard to cope at first but we do manage really well because the teachers are there for us and we are able to ask them any questions or share any doubts we have. I think we will get used to it, we already have somewhat, but I think it will be even better when we return to lessons next week.
D: I had never done online learning before either! It was a bit odd at first, and initially it was a bit more of a struggle to keep to the timetable compared to just being in school during a normal day. But you kind of just adjust and it just becomes easier to cope with the work pace and with the new way that learning is happening now.
The teachers were really helpful, they are there to help you when you have a question.
K: In Maths, Mr Morrison had a Zoom session where he answered all of our questions. Ms Yates did the same for Spanish! In Biology and Chemistry, the teachers answered all of our questions on Google Classroom. Teachers are also available by email.
D: I take History and Geography and I like the way those subjects are handled. We were given assignments at the start of the week so we knew what work we would have for the whole week. At the end of the week, Mrs Barber, for example, hosted a zoom call where everyone joined in and we talked about any questions we have and how the week had been going. It was nice she touched base with us to check whether we liked the system she was using. A lot of teachers are doing this just to see which method works best for that class.
K: (During the Easter Holidays) We divide our day so we give ourselves some time to enjoy ourselves, cook, watch movies, and stay focussed and study for the other half. So we try our best to balance! We also try not to be as strict on ourselves on the weekends, and just relax!
K: We’ve been cooking… a lot! Talking to each other, sometimes we play table tennis outside. We watch movies together. We have tried lots of different cuisines, such as Indian, Russian and Italian.
D: All of us have been cooking for each other. That takes up a lot of our evenings. We’re getting a lot of fresh, nice ingredients, which is making it easier to try new things. Ms Janette makes us exercise outside for at very least 15 minutes a day! We like to play ping pong. The boys have been working out using the pull up bars.
K: Ms Janette is so important to us. She’s the one who takes care of us, we are all so happy she’s here, honestly. She helps us with cooking, with sourcing ingredients. If we are ever feeling sad, we just go and talk to her and she makes us feel better. I’m really glad she’s here for us.
D: She’s really stepped up, especially under the current circumstances. There are no cooks or cleaners, it’s a lot for her to handle. She’s helping us with our chores and giving us lots of support, she’s making sure everyone is happy, going up to people who might feel a little sad. She watches movies with us, she cooks and eats with us and plays table tennis with us! She’s there all the time for us, and is a really nice parent figure to have around.
Just knowing you’re not alone, I think that’s really important.
D: Having your priorities and giving yourself little goals to do throughout the day. The days are long sometimes, you can’t go out and do the things you would normally do which can bring you down. But I think just having these little goals to set yourself with times you want to complete them, that kind of makes the day seem a little fuller and that you have a little bit more control over what’s happening.
That’s what really helped me and has kept me motivated. I know that I’m finishing what I need to do and also having fun!
I also think it’s being around people that you love. For us in the boarding house, it’s nice that we have each other and whenever you’re upset you have people you can talk to. In terms of time management, it’s as simple as telling yourself you’re not on vacation! You have work to do. I have a planner with a list of things I have to do and I like ticking them off.
K: In Saudia Arabia where my family lives, the quarantine isn’t that strict, because there aren’t yet a lot of cases. They’re allowed to go out to restaurants and malls, so it’s not that strict yet but I think it will become more serious. I call them every day, sometimes twice a day, to tell them how I am and what I’ve been doing.
D: My parents are in Malaysia which is in full lockdown. They’re not supposed to go out and there are curfews. Both my parents are essential workers but they have to go in on 2/3 days a week. It’s nice because they’re home a lot and I do talk to them every day, which is really nice. They’re doing alright and coping there as well!
A huge thank you to Dharani and Kristhitha for giving us an insight into Boarding Life in these challenging times. For more information on how Westbourne has embraced online learning and our Covid 19 response, please click here.