I don’t believe anyone wants me to recap what is up these days (the numbers, the numbers are up) or why there would be a need for quarantining. So I’ll just jump into my mandatory quarantine days.
March 1, 2021: Quarantine day 0
I started this day fairly early. I actually did the Vienna to Bath part of my trip on this very day. So when I finally came to the University of Bath campus, there wasn’t much more of the day left. The evening was closing in when I finally got my keys and burrowed in my room at the Marlborough Court. I was the only occupant of a flat with 6 ensuite rooms and a shared kitchen. Perfect for quarantining.
I made a video about this trip already: Here.
The University’s quarantine team was already on top of everything. There was a microwave, a kettle, and a crate of food to last me the next 10 days. It was satisfactory, to say the least. Except, there wasn’t any crockery or cutleries. That was just an email to the quarantine away though. They responded really fast.
I had a meeting with the HR representative to prove my identity and that I entered the UK. That took no more than 15 minutes. Right then and there, I became a new member of the University of Bath.
March 2: Just settling in
This was an eventless day really. The weather is not the greatest either. It was more about settling in and trying to list the things with respect to their urgency. I had my first meeting with, my new mentors, James H. Davenport and Russell Bradford. We had meetings before but this was the first time we were all in the same country. We mostly talked about the university and its structure.
James sent out some emails to jump-start things for me. Next thing, I was getting bombarded by different offices of the University to get things done fast. I set up my university account, email, sent a request for a library card… and the day ended before you know.
March 3: First test day
Another foggy day with all grey skies. At least that’s what I can see from my dorm window. Nevertheless, this was an exciting day. I was going to self-administer my first test and send it back to NHS for testing. Of course, a negative result was desirable but this test will also show how the preventative measures I used held up against this virus.
I opened a test kit. Nothing surprising was in there. A booklet, a swab, a tube with some saline solution, a bag, and a return box was all there is. I read the documentation, did the registration, and watched a video in which a doctor demonstrated the test. Let me tell you, he made it look so easy. My test experience was completely different. Swabbing my tonsils? Almost impossible. I didn’t know that I could show so much gag reflex. Swabbing my sinuses? I started sneezing uncontrollably. Anyway, the experience wasn’t the best but it made me appreciate how proficient the tester in Linz was once more. The young soldier that administered the test on me just made it look so easy.
The university’s security picked the test from me later in the day. I kept on catching up with emails.
March 4: I am negative
Once again the day started all foggy, but there was some excitement going around on the campus. I saw more students going up and down the street and I think some students were moving into the building across from my dorm.
The quarantine food pack came with some quite similar breakfast options. At least that is how I perceived it, maybe someone would have considered the frozen dinners as possible breakfasts too. I was given instant oatmeal or bar cereal with fruit yogurt. For the curious ones, I had milk. I would be okay with these options any day of the week but I noticed that I wanted something else, anything else today. I think it was quarantine creeping in.
My test results came back negative later in the day. Another 5 days to the second test and this will be over.
March 5: University training courses
I got contacted by the Computer Science department admin about the department/university orientation among other things. I started with the departmental induction module. It was a fair amount of reading, especially if you are following the links and getting into the crevices of the site. It needs to be said that I am really impressed with how well put-together and organized this university is. The documentation is impeccable and there seems to be some reference document for every possible scenario.
By pure chance, I saw that a friend was giving a talk on Facebook. I directly jumped on it and asked if I can join too. Next thing, I was in a math talk with all the top people in the field. I was so surprised that I didn’t hear about this seminar series before.
At night the students threw what seems like a block party on the street in front of my window. I think they had a great time. I didn’t pay too much attention to them but I doubt there was much social distancing.
March 6: A fire alarm chirp
Bright day, chilly but sunny. A boring breakfast and a cup of coffee later, I am ready for the day.
I continued going through the University’s induction information. Among many other things, I found a concrete set of mandatory training courses expected of me. I started with basically the easiest one, fire safety. I liked, the Windows 98 type, old interface this course had. This was actually true for all the online courses. They must have been prepared many years back but the information was still relevant. Why fix something that is not broken, right?
In the afternoon, while I was chatting with my girlfriend, the fire alarm went off for a short time. The information was fresh in my mind, if only the alarm went off for a tad bit longer, I would have darted all the way out. It would have been a great excuse to stretch my legs a little.
I figured that I have been eating rice one way or another for some number of days. Cup-noodle-like rice dishes, microwave rice, rice vermicelli… Suddenly the frozen dinners looked boring too.
Another night of partying on the streets. These kids know how to have fun.
March 7: Frustrations build
Today I saw two new quarantine signs on doors in the apartment. Soon there will be some people here. One even got his commissary food box ready for their arrival on their doorstep. So far I was being careful but relaxed in the apartment but it became clear that more caution will be required around the kitchen from now on.
I was completely bored with the food though. That was the real issue. I didn’t want to prepare something from the quarantine rations. It might have also been that I got really bored of the statical discharge shocking me every time I touched the microwave. I wanted something delivered. This plan failed horribly due to the food delivery service not liking my credit card’s zip code. I got a little frustrated with that but at least I still had food.
To bribe my own morale, I decided to order some items from the online shop of the on-campus grocery store. I didn’t see this shop before, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Their proportions of listings were really bizarre. They had only 3 types of cereal but at least 5 types of Asian sliced flavored tofu snacks. Sifting through the items was still some good fun. I collected things in my shopping cart and paid for them to be delivered in a day or two.
March 8: Fire drill
I was calling realtors and property managers to find a long-term place for me and my girlfriend for the last week. Today, I extended my radius and called even more realtors to no avail. So things were getting a bit frustrating. The quarantine food was boring, staying indoors was boring,. my ear was at the door to see if I was going to get my grocery order (I didn’t). You know, there was some restlessness. I wish I could go out and maybe walk around the campus a little.
James gave an overview talk on our project, the literature, and possible future questions to tackle. Then I was added to the Math Foundations research group’s Discord server. It was so pleasant to see a group or colleagues socializing (as much as the internet allows) and joking around in a friendly setting. Although, I haven’t met them in person yet, I also received a warm welcome. That was a great interlude to a gloomy day.
Once again I was reminded to be careful of what to wish for. At 11:30 pm (23:30) all the fire alarms went off. Red lights and siren sounds, I followed the route with everyone to the outside meeting point. The fire marshal was not nice (nor they need to be) in any shape or form. I stayed away from the others with a mask on. I knew I just refreshed my fire safety information but that was quite enough for me to be honest. I wanted to be outside but not under those circumstances.
March 9: Final test day
This was one of the most exciting and full days. I decided to rip the band-aid off and directly do the test. It was just as bad as the first time. Voluntarily swabbing your own tonsils and/or sinuses is not easy. I sneezed uncontrollably for minutes on end once again. They should give a medal to the guy that tested me in Linz.
More stimulating or shall I say more exciting was the arrival of my grocery order! Normally, such things are so mundane. So what if I got some milk? or a frozen pizza? This wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation. That is on what we deem a normal day. Today, after days of weak-incarceration, no matter how socially connected it was, the knock on my door and the two bags of goodies felt like the outside came to me.
The rest of the day was in the frame of the new normal. Sent some emails, did some work/typing, joined the Alcyon Lab‘s weekly seminar…
March 10: Good ol’ hard work
Finally, a day where I wake up with a clear mind and willingness to focus heavily on work. Maybe I finally get used to the quarantine environment. And the progress showed. I was able to finish some tasks I was hoping to finish in my quarantine period. This meant now I needed to start all the tasks I needed to do.
Nevertheless, this was a good day.
March 11: Negative again. Freedom.
I woke up to NHS emails telling me that my test results show no signs of the virus. Perfect start of a day. This was followed by the University quarantine team paying me a quick visit and taking the quarantine sign off my door. I was officially free.
Sadly, it was a rainy day. Normally I wouldn’t mind being home for 10 days and I would definitely go out when it’s raining. On this occasion, I made an exception and stretched my legs around the campus a little. It is a nice university and a nice campus for sure. I hope to walk this campus up and down for at least another 3 years.