The lockdown ‘household’ that became a family

14th March – with the last day of Hilary term at Oxford, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic finally hit us. Overnight, we had to say goodbye to friends for possibly the last time before we left Oxford, people took flights to leave the country, and the university, colleges, dining halls and libraries all shut down as the United Kingdom locked down. Finally, only a handful of students remained at Green Templeton College’s onsite accommodation, the Doll Building.

Five people from five continents.

Photo 1
We barely knew each other, but went from strangers to family over the course of the five months of lockdown. During the fast pace of our regular life, we often do not get the opportunity to form deep bonds with the people around us, but being in lockdown together really gave us the chance to get to know each other (too!) well. As the tables at the Stables Bar were pulled apart to enforce social distancing, the space was converted to our living room and workplace. Formal introductions soon gave way to gossiping about the GTC ducks and foxes, psycho-analysing each other’s relationships and secrets, pillow fights to making pacts.

Photo 4

Quarantine consisted of guiding, teasing, supporting, and most importantly, feeding each other! With no formal dinners taking place around Oxford, house dinners were the highlights – weekly dinners to try out food from each of our different countries, and ad-hoc meals, which were a jumble (and tastiest!) of cuisines.

Photo 2

Beatriz, our most reliable go-to source on Brazilian politics and our most freaked-out family member who bought 7 kilos of rice before the apocalypse (which we all consumed throughout 5 months). Achie, the African inhouse shy-boy-turned-jester whose intense, never-ending stories with literally no filter kept the lot of us entertained. Matt, the American candy with an outer covering made of fratboy and an inner filling made of soft gooey teddy bear. Asmita, our ‘social events’ organizer from India, with her ‘permanent’ spot at the Stables (woe betide those who stole her spot), lover of anything chicken and curry, and photograph chronicler of the lockdown. Julia, the quirky and (slightly!) inefficient German who took approx. 5 walks a day and obsessed over everyone’s astrology forecast. Learning about our diverse cultures and backgrounds through the lens of our motley personalities, there was never a dull day in the house!

Together, we went through an unprecedented Trinity term in Oxford. A pint at the pub was replaced by picnics and frisbee sessions in our house garden, a.k.a, the beautiful GTC lawns. Trinity term exams went online, so instead of walking to the Examination Schools in our robes, we did our exam preparation at the Stables and had our post-exam celebrations on the GTC lawns. The monotonicity of the lockdown was broken by the colours of spring that blossomed in Oxford, as we went out for our walks and runs. Socially-distant (but same household) ice-cream breaks at G&D’s was a perfect way to take advantage of the sunniest May in the UK on record. Celebrating birthdays and milestones – all happened under one roof. We discovered skills we never thought we had – when desperate times called for desperate measures during lockdown, we even turned into stylists, giving each other haircuts!

Photo 5

Now as we finish our courses, leave Oxford for summer, and bid each other farewell, we feel sad that we won’t be together as a house any more. During the lockdown, we really found a home away from home at GTC, and strangely enough, in spite of the strange circumstances we found ourselves in, will really miss it when we leave!


Created: 10 August 2020