Traveling to the UK during a Global Pandemic

Traveling to the UK during a Global Pandemic

For many people, including myself, travelling the world or moving to another country would be a dream come true. New culture, new foods, and new adventures are all things most people travel for, but the past year has put a stop to a lot of this not just in the UK but all over the world.

red and black abstract art
Abstract Art highlighting the impact of Covid 19 around the globe. Taken by Martin Sanchez

Statistics found by the House of Commons Library found that in the financial year ending March 2020, 715,000 people relocated from their home country, to move to the UK. That is a huge number of people entering the UK to live.

airline about to land on ramp
Image of an Aeroplane taking off. Taken by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa

Imagine this: You decide you want to move to another country; you pack your bags, plan to stay with friends and family until you get on your feet and you then get on a flight and move away from home. Only then does the world suddenly completely change and you are in a strange country away from home during a global pandemic. With tighter boarder rules and restrictions on socialising it would be easy to feel very alone.

This is the reality that Charlote Swailes arrived to in England. Charlote aged 20 moved to the UK in March 2020, relocating from Perth Australia. She explained that this was where her parents were from and so felt a close draw to come and spend time in the UK.

Charlote described her thoughts to us by saying “I had been to England for a few holidays as a young girl, my family still lived in Newcastle too so I knew I had a home away from home there” she continued “my plan was to spend a year or two in England, spend time with my family and hopefully make a life for myself.” Unfortunately for Charlote her plans suddenly became unachievable when we entered out first UK National Lock down.

We all struggled when the hospitality sector shut and we were told to stay at home. Everyone felt alone and isolated for a large part of 2020. I struggled hugely with lack of socialising and I couldn’t imagine how it would have felt to be going through this 150,000 kilo meters away from my whole family.

Charlote moved in with her aunt and uncle and they were the only people she was able to see. She explained “I had planned to come to England and have at least a year of fun and freedom and suddenly I was locked up in a house with distant family for 5 months.” She added “When the summer came and the lockdown was eased, I managed to see my cousins who were around my age and I had never appreciated an experience more.”

This year a lot of people have had to change their plans as well as their idea of how things would go. For Charlote this meant she decided it was in her best intentions to cut her trip to the UK short and return back to Australia to be with her family.  She booked her flight in November and had to pay £2000 to quarantine in a hotel.

“I missed home too much, Australia weren’t almost back to normal life” said Charlotte, she continued “My friends and family were all having fun and seeing each other and I was stuck in England feeling isolated and alone.”

Bailey Hillman too moved to the UK in September 2020, from British Columbia, Canada. Bailey decided years ago, when she was in her first year of University that after she finished, she was going to move over to the UK, to use it as a base to then travel around the rest of Europe.

She applied for her 2-year visa to start in September. By the time September rolled around, surprise, surprise we were still in the ever-lasting pandemic but Bailey explained why she didn’t postpone her trip “ultimately I want to finish school in the next few years so now is the best time.”

Bailey loved England and is so glad to be here, she has just moved into a house share and is applying for jobs. She has explained that a lot of these decisions have been due to the pandemic effecting her trip, she said “cause the main thing I wanted to do was be able to travel and I haven’t really been able to do that yet.” As we all know travelling has not been an option for any of us so Bailey decided that while she was here, she would try and get a job so she could save money and hopefully do more travelling when the lockdown and travel restriction are lifted.

She continued by saying how she doesn’t regret her decision to come despite the pandemic because she has “still had good experiences while being her.”

Both Bailey and Charlote expressed their love for the North East Coast. With Bailey saying her favourite thing to do here is to “go to the sea front, get coffee” and go for a walk. The North East is a beautiful place and one where people are proud to visit and call home. Even in a pandemic where challenges have been present the North East has welcomes people with open arms, figuratively of course as we have not been legally allowed to do it in  reality for months.

Image of Tynemouth Seafront. Taken by Hannah Clark

The past year has been really hard for everyone no matter what experiences you have been going through. We need to remember what is important to us and make sure we are still appreciating the small things. Charlote and Bailey both moved to the UK and have had completely different experiences than they wanted but both have chosen to do what ultimately made them happy.

This video shows some of Charlote and Bailey’s favourite parts of the North East of England. All images have een provided by themselves.

If you are planning on travelling or moving countries advice on travel restrictions can be found at:

Foreign travel advice – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Hannah Clark

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