Imperial College London

Lockdown Life: Open water swimming, pot plants and trampolines


Students in lockdown

With the end of lockdown in sight, some of NHLI’s students share their lockdown hobbies and what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown.

From pasta delivery kits to home coffee machines (easily my best lockdown purchase), everyone I have spoken to over the past year has confessed to picking up a new hobby or indulging in some impulse online shopping.

Some of the students from the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) undergraduate and postgraduate programmes were not immune and have shared their lockdown lifestyles, and how they have found studying remotely this past year. 

What has been your weirdest lockdown purchase so far?

“Lots and lots of face masks.” Ameya Mhaisalkar, BSc Remote Medicine

“A new wetsuit to go swimming in the serpentine in Hyde Park as it’s been absolutely freezing over winter.” Robert Good, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine 

“No weird purchases, I only bought cool things! The one that I am most excited about is this Italian cappuccino maker. It was not exactly the cheapest option but in lockdown I rediscovered the beauty of having a breakfast that does not involve eating on the tube or burning yourself with a takeaway coffee whilst hurrying to a lecture.” Angela Giarrizzo, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

"Donald Trump toilet roll…don’t ask!" Emer Mulholland, BSc Remote Medicine

“Clothes? Weird as I have nowhere to wear them!” Sivanusha Sivakumar, MSc Medical Ultrasound  

“Beads! I am not very creative but I love threading beads and choosing different colour patterns.” Alexis Perkins, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

“I did the classic mammy thing and bought a large trampoline for my children in March 2020 as it was what everyone was doing!” Mairead Sheehan, MSc Allergy  

“I think lockdown actually made me focus on my saving more, because there were  no open places to go to.” Abdullah Alharbi, MSc Medical Ultrasound

“A set of small water guns that has led to a lot of impromptu water fights between housemates.” Lorenzo Varani, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

“I have been trying to improve my oil painting skills and I have to say I have improved a lot since I started – as they say practice makes perfect. Rabiah Neeraboo,” BSc Cardiovascular Sciences

“Yes I have. As I am living alone, I’ve started to focus on the healthy hobbies – more exercise, eating healthy food etc. So my cooking skills have become better.” Abdullah Alharbi, MSc Medical Ultrasound 

“I have started open water swimming! I competed in a few races in the summer and have continued through to December in ‘skins’. Currently the river is doing most of the work. It is definitely freezing, but very exhilarating and socially distanced!” Alexis Perkins, MSc Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare 

“Last Christmas a friend sent me a poinsettia. It was the only plant that survived my not-so-green fingers, and this gave me the confidence to buy a couple of potted plants and start indoor gardening.” Angela Giarrizzo, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

“Like many other people, I joined the baking hype over the spring and summer – decorating cakes is not my forte, but I can make delicious cakes! I’ve also spent lockdown sewing and trying to learn Pilates, but often resort to watching Netflix instead.” Sara Reci, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells

“Yes! Since I am at home 90% of the time, I have wondered into the world of art! I completed a diamond painting during the first lockdown and I am currently working on a 'paint by numbers’ portrait which has been super entertaining and therapeutic!” Sivanusha Sivakumar, MSc Medical Ultrasound

How have you found studying at home? 

“Studying at home has been challenging for me, as it has for everyone else. That being said, the cohort this year are really great, and I definitely feel supported by my peers. Seeing Dr Fouzia Khan’s friendly face every morning is really reassuring, especially since she is also working from home and studying too.” Charlotte Hutchings, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

“Not bad actually. I live in a flat with three other medical students all doing different BSc’s online, so it’s been interesting to see what everyone is up to.” Robert Good, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine

“Better than I thought, I have been able to manage my work-life balance a lot better; although, most of my daily exercise has consisted of walking to the fridge…” Emer Mulholland, BSc Remote Medicine

“I find studying at home more stressful than life on campus. However, this is the safest and only way to deal with the current pandemic and we are all doing our best to make this work. I am so grateful to the staff as they are doing an amazing job in maintaining high the teaching quality and they are showing to be not only incredible academics but also amazing human beings.” Angela Giarrizzo, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

“I personally prefer face-to-face teaching sessions in general. However, studying at home gave me more time to comprehend and review my lecture before attending them.” Rayan Alkhelaifi, MSc Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare

“Personally, I don’t mind studying from home. I am more organised, and my modules so far have been very interactive. I am also at home with my family which I am very grateful for.” Alexis Perkins, MSc Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare

“Studying at home is more difficult – you’re essentially studying in the same place where you rest, so discipline is essential. Organisation is also vital – knowing how to plan your time and putting in place a healthy balance between work and leisure. It is slightly bittersweet that we don’t have the opportunity to physically experience the university environment, but I do hope to have the in-class experience during my research project.” Sara Reci, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells

“Studying from home has had its challenges. I have been missing in-person tutorials and the social interaction that comes with them. The staff has made a lot of effort to make the experience enjoyable through interactive teaching and with fun challenges. Online teaching also has its perks such as cutting down on travel time, something that can be quite relevant in London.” Lorenzo Verani, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine

What is the first thing you want to do once all of the restrictions have been lifted?

“Travel – I had hoped to spend some of my intercalation year hiking in different areas of the UK. Obviously, that hasn’t happened so, after spending quality time with friends and family, I would love to road trip around the UK!” Emer Mulholland, BSc Remote Medicine

“It would be nice to have a dinner with all of my friends with no household or number limits. I would also quite like to go to the cinema too as I haven’t been in a long time since the pandemic started.” Rabiah Neerahoo, BSc Cardiovascular Sciences

“As I relocated to London last October, I haven’t had the chance to go to the museums and learn more about the city. I would love to book a tour of the Royal Albert Hall.” Rayan Alkhelaifi, MSc Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare 

“I am very excited to play sports again. The first thing I will do after restrictions are lifted is go back to the swimming pool to play water polo.” Lorenzo Verani, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine 

“Most definitely hug my parents and my friends. Have a crazy night out dancing and then get a plane to somewhere hot for two weeks!” Mairead Sheehan, MSc Allergy 

“Easy, go the pub with some mates or book a holiday.” Robert Good, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine 

“Honestly, I just want a pint... or two, and some good sushi.” Charlotte Hutchings, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells 

Take a look at our Study webpages for more information about the programmes offered by NHLI. 


Miss Lizzie Lomer

Miss Lizzie Lomer
National Heart & Lung Institute

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