‘It’s gone faster than I thought it would. I was teaching on the Monday, someone came in and told me we’d be finishing as we were about to start ‘locking down’, and all of a sudden it was organised chaos.’ Linda’s smiley face is on the screen, glass of wine in hand. She’s one of those people that you meet a few times and feel like you’ve known forever.
‘Going straight into lockdown from working and having a busy life was very surreal; it’s so strange how the whole world just stopped. I was wondering what we were going to do for four weeks. We had the two week Easter break and I knew there was two weeks home learning, but I was thinking what are we actually going to do in lockdown for four weeks, you know, without going out anywhere and not being able to do anything. I thought it would go really slowly.’
Linda had plans to, as we Brits love to say, potter about. Do some jigsaw puzzles, a bit of gardening, read lots of books, watch Netflix and such. ‘Then it went really fast. It just flew. What surprised me is how tired you can get when doing nothing,’ she laughs. ‘We did make sure we got out for a walk every day though. I did have grand plans to get fit and do the Joe Wicks PE thing, but I think I only did it once.’
New Zealand went into lockdown at the same time as the UK, meaning there was more time for Linda to be able to talk to her friends and family across the other side of the world. ‘We’ve had a houseparty with some friends in England the last few Friday evenings and it’s been great, because we all have more time to talk to each other.’
Linda’s a newly qualified teacher, teaching 6-7 year old children for the last year at a local school, and didn’t find the transition to online teaching too bad. ‘I quite liked it. Because I teach younger children I wasn’t having to do Zoom classes like some of the others. Rather, I was putting activities onto seesaw for them to do, and they’d upload what they’d done for me to look at. It meant I could work at my own leisure, although sometimes I found it hard to know when to stop.’ Like a lot of people, Linda was glad to have a routine around work, a way of keeping busy and focused.
When New Zealand moved to Level 3 and schools opened to children of essential workers, Linda went into work once a week to supervise a ‘pod’ of children. ‘It was different. Normally I’d get in early to set up my classroom and get prepared for the day, but there wasn’t really anything to get ready because all the work had already been set. We had to separate out all the desks, everyone had to keep 2 metres apart, no one was allowed to share anything and we had to sanitise all the devices and desks.’
Linda loves the school she works at, and is enjoying being back. She says: ‘it’s very supportive, I never feel too much pressure. I mean, yes, we have deadlines and have to work hard, but I feel very blessed to have such a good working environment.’
We chat for a while, catching up on life, and finish the conversation with Linda promising me she’ll come on the next walk that’s arranged in the ex-pat group we’re both part of.
I promise to hold her to it.