Published on 30 March 2020
Last summer Joel Manning left his family home in Saint Michael, Barbados, and arrived at the University of Sunderland.
The 27-year-old took up an MA in Sports Journalism in the hope of achieving his dream of becoming a TV sports presenter.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, Joel returned to Barbados and his family. Here he tells us about his life back home.
“With absolute certainty I can say that COVID-19 has affected us all, as a University, as students and as people.
“Whilst we may have seen it slowly coming from afar, nothing truly prepared us for the significant impact that it would have on our lives now and for time to come.
“Thankfully to date I’ve been able to stay fully healthy but the same cannot be said for thousands across the world and my heart truly goes out to those who have suffered, are suffering and those who are risking daily on the frontline to help us in these times.
“When it all started, I was still living in the University student accommodation. I recall my original thoughts being, maybe things won’t get so bad and I would stay in the UK and make the most of what at the time appeared to be a “temporary inconvenience.”
“As the days went by however and the “temporary inconvenience” escalated into a global pandemic, I started to go back and forth in my mind about the possibility of going home.
“High flight prices at the time made it an easy decision for me, it simply was not in my budget to return to Barbados and I was pretty sure I could handle not being home as long as I knew my family were safe.
“Then came every headline and their predictions and I had to decide that should something happen to me, it would be better for it to happen back home with my family.
“It was then I packed up my life in the space of two days and hopped on what was the last available flight to Barbados before airlines shut off.
“The situation here in terms of numbers is certainly no comparison to those in the UK but at the same time we are a very small island so there is still understandably a significant measure of concern about the virus’ presence here.
“What I can say though is that our Government has been proactive in its implementation of various measures and the population has been co-operating and coping as best it can in these times.
“For my fellow students who were unable to return home, I know that we will all get through it, healthy and ready to take on the new challenges of this uncertain world.”