Emma O’Connor is a student journalist at Wits Vuvuzela. This is her life in lockdown in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

With the seemingly endless challenges that the national lockdown has presented itself with, it has also given me a few calm moments in these overwhelming circumstances. 

The restriction on movement has eliminated the, more or less, four hours of traffic that I would usually sit in everyday commuting back and forth from Wits main campus in Braamfontein. Added to this is the benefit that I am not rushing to get anywhere as my work station is whichever part of the house suits me best for the day.

The added time in my day has allowed me to slow down some aspects of life and focus more on my environment. I have noticed how the staple objects that I use on a daily basis have been adapted to suit my lockdown requirements, some for the better and others not so much.

This old and falling-apart exercise mat has accompanied me on all of my daily workouts. This measly mat does not compare to the vast array of large and expensive equipment that my body had become accustomed to during my daily sessions at the gym. However, being able to celebrate my health and that my body is able to stay active during this lockdown period has not made me appreciate this mat in particular, but all that I am able to do on it.

There is a catch-22 scenario with working during this lockdown period. On one hand I am grateful that I have my studies giving me a purpose during this time; whilst on the other hand working under these conditions has been one of the most stressful and overwhelming experiences of my life.

There is no distinct space, such as the newsroom, to work in. Instead, my whole house has become my work space. My laptop setup is on the dining room table, where the majority of my work from 9am to 5pm takes place. I am the only one that works at this table, but all my stuff still manages to take up the entire eight-seater.

Drinking coffee or tea out of an actual ceramic mug used to be restricted to post-university hours or the weekends. Instead, my coffee would usually be in either a travel mug or a takeaway cup at my desk or in my car. Being able to slow down has given me the chance to have my coffee in a mug beside my work station. This mug in particular is one of my favourites as I have had it for as long as I can remember. This small comfort of having my trusty mug in close reach is one of those simple pleasures in my lockdown life.

My go-to shoe wear is always a sneaker of some sort. However, being in an environment that does not call for a dress code, my sneakers have only made an appearance when essential shopping is required. Instead, I have dug out my old slippers from last year’s winter and have sported them almost every day. With the cold air starting to creep in, my feet have never been so grateful to be under lockdown.

The place where all my days start and end: between the crumpled up sheets on my bed. Whilst the place of my sleep has not changed during lockdown, the quality of my sleep has. Not being able to move around as much during the day has left me extremely restless at night. As a result I am not able to sleep as much as I would like to, even though I have the time. This infuriating cycle of sleep only has one remedy, and that’s lockdown level 1.

FEATURED IMAGE: My 9am to 5pm work station at the dining room table. Photo: Emma O’Connor