Moving To London During COVID-19: The Decision

There comes a point in our lives where we have to make decisions based on our gut feeling and run with it. Moving to London this past September during the COVID-19 pandemic was definitely a huge decision I tussled with for a few months. Like many people, I’ve had such an emotional rollercoaster from the beginning of this year.  Before COVID-19, I researched and planned to move to London for grad school by September 2020. However, once COVID hit, I didn’t know if I should proceed. Let me walk you through the trials and tribulations over these past few months.

March: Around the first week of March, I found out that I got into all  3 of the graduate programs I applied to in London (UCL, LSE, Kingston University London). I leaped for joy! I sat down and headed to my drawing board to weigh the pros and the cons of each school. LSE seemed like it may have been the right fit for me. I quickly kept track of my savings, began looking at loan options and created a plan of paying off my loans after school. By mid-March, the pandemic broke out and the world was in a huge panic. Countries began banning each other from international travel from left and right! I thought to myself “Damn, what’s about to happen? Should I still go to grad school?” I started paying attention to more British news and how the other  Russell Group Universities( the IVY Leagues of the UK) were handling COVID-19. However, at this point, no one knew what was ahead.

April: As happy as I was about getting into all the schools I applied for, it was hard to keep a smile on with all the emotional grief attached to COVID. Every day, I heard about the death of a family member or family members of people I’d known. My workload greatly increased because our daily in-office duties had to be abruptly moved online. On top of all of that, my two-week birthday trip to South Africa was cancelled. How can I be joyous during such a chaotic time? Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my top choice school, LSE, said they weren’t allowing deferrals anymore. If I wanted to start the following year, I would have to resubmit my application. At at that point, I realized my options were limited and that I would have to make a decision and deal with whatever comes with the choice I make.

May: Towards the end of May, the Amy Cooper situation and the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Amar Aubrey took a huge mental toll on me. Whenever a black person is killed due to a racially provoked situation, it takes a huge toll on Black America. I just couldn’t imagine that even during this pandemic that some people could be so racially wicked. If there’s any time to be compassionate, now was the time. The racial problem in America made me want to leave more than ever. I thought “Maybe it’s just time for me to take a break from America”.

June-July: LSE sends us an email that our program would be hybrid( big lectures online and small seminars in person)! I was absolutely okay with that option because most of the schools in the UK were going fully online. I came back to my drawing board and weighed the pros and the cons of staying or leaving. I must admit, it was very hard to decide if I should leave or not. I knew that once I said I would leave, I was leaving behind a job, my apartment, and my loved ones during such an unprecedented time. I also knew that this visa process was going to be painstakingly longer to process, I would have to quarantine when I arrived in London, and the school year I envisioned earlier in the year would look very different. However, inside my soul, I just felt like this was the right step to take so I accepted my offer.

August – September: August hit and I got excited that I would be finally doing this! I began making plans to move out and move to London. However, towards the middle of August, I heard the unfortunate news that my cousin in Ghana passed away.  All my excitement for school instantly melted away. He was so young and I just couldn’t understand why. I prayed continuously and cried for weeks. I had plans of seeing him this Christmas and planned to bounce off global development plans/ideas with him. I took some time to myself to grieve and process everything which definitely helped but every so often he comes into my head & it’s hard to deal with again.

With the death of my cousin and dealing with the uncertainty of my visa and the fact that my flight canceled days after I booked, I didn’t know what to do. I lived in anxiety and panic. However, I had to learn to stay positive and tried to not get lost in my negative thoughts. I am so grateful for my family, close friends, therapist, and boyfriend for keeping me going during a time that I felt so emotionally drained.

I’m officially in London now and my quarantine just ended. I feel like this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Life is soo short and uncertain that I think sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling and go for it.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on my flight experience.

By: Ermida K., London U.K

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