2020 was supposed to be great – I was supposed to be working in the microscopy lab in my university, real hands-on research. Over summer I had three camps planned. And in September I would have my graduation ceremony, a big one with robes and hats and everything.
2020 was the year of unfulfilled expectations, full of frustration and scrapping plans that were made in the face of rapidly changing situations. But, at least for me, it was not only that. Things didn’t go to plan, but that doesn’t mean I did nothing, or that 2020 was a completely wasted year.
I am 23 years old and I moved out four years ago. Moving back in with my parents (and for a while, my sister) who live in Germany was not something I had planned to do. While at first it just seemed like a big loss of freedom and independence, it was also more time than I expected to be able to spend with them. I cooked and had long chats with my mom, worked on projects with my dad, went on walks and day trips together as a family, or sometimes just sat together in front of the TV whilst enjoying each other’s company. Maybe these activities will be some of my most treasured memories when my parents grow old.
And I did get to do many great things in this time: with my dad and my sister, I built a canoe. “Nautilus” turned out to be a beautiful wooden boat and went on many trips with us – from day trips on local lakes to an overnighter down a river, with 25km of paddling every day. My mom’s sketching classes were moved online, so I was able to join in. I learned how to do Via Ferrata Climbing and I taught myself how to use a sewing machine.
One of the biggest parts of my new-found free time activities was SSAGO – the Student Scout and Guide Organisation. I had gone to two of their events before, but they were based (mostly) in a different country to me (I am studying in the Netherlands) which meant that I couldn’t attend many. Now it didn’t make a difference if the distance was 500 or even 5000km – events were online anyway, so all of us could take part! I could play board games with people from all over Great Britain. I could share cooking recipes with an Indian friend I met on the SSAGO Discord server. We went on camps – each of us camping by ourselves, in our own garden or living room, but connected over the internet. Weekly, we’d complete scout and guide badges together that inspired us to do things we’d never have done otherwise (like painting a map of my hometown for a local history badge). We challenged ourselves to push our physical fitness with a sports challenge. Took part in online escape rooms. Made campfires. Virtually visited museums. Building things and crafting things and learning things. So many great memories that would never have happened in a “normal” year.