LOCKDOWN DIARY: The joy of the new

AMY BURGESS, who hopes to study chemical engineering, natural sciences or business at university, tells how she has made the most of the latest lockdown, taking up new hobbies, exploring new interests and entering competitions – while also finding time to relax

In Lockdown 3, my main goal has been to keep myself active, and use my time wisely.I have never been interested in sport, so I thought I would attempt the Couch to 5K challenge. I had never run before, so I was worried about how I would cope and if I would have the mental and physical strength to turn running into a routine. Now, I run every other day, and I am finding it much easier to keep going. In between each day of running, I go for a walk. I wanted to make sure I kept to this routine as in the first lockdown, I was not as active as I should have been. When having a full day of online lessons, it is important to get outdoors and so I make sure to at least go for a walk every day.

As I am currently undertaking four A-levels, at school I have four free and three private study periods. Usually, I would use my free periods to catch up with my friends and my private studies would be used to catch up with my homework. However, when at home I find I have lots of free time, so I am trying to use it to do wider reading and participate in competitions which could enrich my university applications.

I have entered an essay-writing competition run by the University of Cambridge, which I am working on at the moment, and I am competing in the BASE Accountancy Challenge. I am also part of the Young Enterprise team. Thanks to several Teams meetings and email correspondence, our team is managing to develop our product and win competitions, which is amazing considering the situation we are in.

My main activity out of school is usually volunteering at a local Brownies unit, but at the moment this cannot go ahead, so I am attempting to complete my Adult Leadership award, which would usually take about a year. Also, to show that I have a wider understanding of sciences beyond my academic subjects, I am undertaking a massive open online course (MOOC) about neuroscience - a free online course which takes about two hours a week to complete.

The hardest challenge I have had to overcome is keeping myself motivated, as many days seem to be the same, and I am working in the same atmosphere every day. I think the most important thing to remember is that we have this time to improve ourselves. We can do more exercise than we would usually have time for, and use our time to do wider reading, such as online courses and essay competitions. Whilst doing that, it is important to know when to stop working.

To relax, I enjoy watching movies, particularly horror and the classics, and listening to music. I also like to read books, both fiction and non-fiction. At weekends, I enjoy Zoom calls with my friends from school, and those from other schools too. We like to do quiz nights and movie nights, as it is the closest thing we can get to all being together!

I meet one of my friends who lives very close to me for socially-distanced runs, which is usually the highlight of my day.