Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 23, 2020

Balancing the negatives with the positives

By AMELIA ISAACS | October 10, 2020

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Isaacs offers fun recommendations for uncertain times. 

There are a lot of terrible things happening right now, and it’s difficult to know how to acknowledge that while also putting something a bit more uplifting out into the world. 

In an attempt to strike some sort of balance, I’ve listed a few recommendations and favorite things — doorbells and sleigh bells not included — at the end of this article. If you want to skip straight to the fun stuff, then just scroll down a few paragraphs. Trust me, I wouldn’t blame you.

Now onto the less uplifting. The news is moving so quickly at the moment, and I’m sure that in the time between me writing this and you reading it, something else crazy and unthinkable will have happened. And in this time of manifestation I won’t venture to make predictions, but it’s definitely telling that even Saturday Night Live couldn’t keep up with the last week of news. 

It’s a weird time to be in America. It’s a particularly weird time to be a Brit in America. I’m watching one country fall apart from the inside while also watching another one crumble from afar. Being an international student in any country means that, after a while, you find yourself split between the country you came from and the one you are in now. There are so many positives to this, and I know that I am in an extremely privileged position in many ways. But one of the downsides to this, especially now, is having two places you feel attached to. And right now, I’m watching them both go down in flames.

There are local lockdown rules across the U.K., but in London rules have recently tightened again. Gatherings are limited to six people, and there’s a new 10 p.m. curfew for pubs and restaurants. 

Before I left in August, there was already a confusing dissemination of information that sparked a new wave of memes. Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraged everyone to simultaneously eat out, stay home, go to work, not take public transport and not go to work. This has seemingly only worsened over the last few weeks, and watching this happen through BBC News alerts and weekly Zoom chats with my family has put everything at a weird distance.

On the flip side, watching the presidential debate last week was, as I know it was for most people, numbing. I felt like I was watching a bad, unbelievable, overacted political satire. Texting all my friends about how crazy it was to watch was the reminder I needed as to why I chose to study in America this semester and why I’d even made the decision back in 2016 to apply. 

As with most things that have happened this year, the debate already feels a million years ago. And while it may seem like I should feel less invested as someone who isn’t an American, being split between two countries doesn’t mean that I feel removed and separate to both. It means that there are two groups of people I care about and two places I feel particularly invested in.

With the constant influx of news, it’s easy to lump it all together and just think that everything is terrible. So as I’ve said, in an attempt to put some good back out there as well, I’ve listed just a few things that have been getting me through — a mix of favorites from the two countries I care so much about.

I recommend that you...

Watch The Great British Bake Off on Netflix. It’s popping up online every Friday, just three days after it airs in the U.K. I can’t remember the last time I watched a show that didn’t have six seasons available to watch all in one go and I’ve been reminded that pacing is a good thing. It’s also hands down the best way to stay up to date with British politics.

Eat at Golden West Cafe in Hampden. It’s a 20-minute walk away and what’s not to love about breakfast for dinner. There’s also a cute outdoor eating space that’s well spaced out just on the corner.

Listen to Table Manners with Jessie Ware. The singer and her mother have just started the 10th season of their podcast. Each episode, they cook dinner for a guest and interview them about their lives, with an added emphasis on the foodie side. They’ve had everyone from Dua Lipa to Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Williams to Antoni Porowski. I specifically recommend their episode with Michael McIntyre, a renowned British comedian trying to “break in” to the U.S.

Vote. Please. As someone who can’t, please exercise your democratic right. Get on the train that takes you closer to the future you want to see, even if it doesn’t get you all the way to your destination. It’s better than waiting at the station, or even getting on a train that goes in the opposite direction and might explode.

Dye your hair. Or get a new piercing. Last week I did both, and while I’m not really suggesting that you do both or either, it is important to do something that’s purely for your own happiness and enjoyment every now and then. And that could be as simple as making yourself a cup of tea. While we’re all taking classes, studying, working and doing literally everything else in our lives all in one room, reaching outside of the confines of your routine is not only important but necessary.

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