Photo credit: Adriel Yong

Dear Covid-19: Staying on campus alone

In his 'Dear Covid-19' letter, liberal arts student Adriel Yong shares why he decided to live in school instead of going home.


Published: 3 June 2020, 8:07 AM

Dear Covid-19 is a memory project by the National Youth Council (NYC) in partnership with DSTNCT, to shed light on everyday life when Singapore came to a standstill as everyone stayed home.

This is a collection of letters to COVID-19 from young Singaporeans from all walks of life, each going through their own struggles and/or victories. The following story was submitted by 22-year-old Adriel Yong, a first year liberal arts student at Yale-NUS College, on May 7, 2020:

“Dear COVID-19,

As I look out of my window each day, things still look ‘normal’. The HDB blocks and buildings of various colours and heights are still there, unfazed. Cars still roam up and down Clementi Road. Some days, I am not sure if I was truly living through a pandemic.

While most of my friends in school have gone back to their home countries or homes in Singapore, I still live at school. I was not sure if I was ready to go home, to live with either of my parents, after living independently for many years.

I was afraid that being in close proximity for extended periods of time for the next one month would get us into fights and quarrels throughout the circuit breaker. Nonetheless, I can’t wait for this to be over, to sit down and have dinner with them again when it is finally safe to do so.

I wonder, however, if my favourite big head prawn noodles at Killiney Road will still be open after this, or the gelato outlet beside Clementi Mall. In the last few weeks, several food outlets and bars that I go to have announced that they would be closing permanently after a significant loss in revenue from the social distancing measures.

When life returns to normalcy and we start to go out again, I wonder how different our F&B scene will look. Food is, after all, a cornerstone to Singapore’s cultural identity and where many people have built relationships and community.

I used to think that technology has made it so much easier to connect with people anywhere around the world. Lately, I have been feeling the fatigue from constantly staring at the screen and trying to connect meaningfully with my friends.

I have come to realise that nothing can replace the unmistakable sense of community in a physical space.

For me, COVID-19 is a reminder of what I hold dear the most – relationships and community. It has also laid bare many of the societal issues that I care deeply about, such as inequality.

I hope to never forget how much we should and can do better for the people around us and for the society that we live in. I hope that we will continue to build a better Singapore after this is over.”


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