An NYC Native Living In The U.K. Shares What It's Like Being On Lockdown In London
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tahirah Jarrett

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tahirah Jarrett

An NYC Native Living In The U.K. Shares What It's Like Being On Lockdown In London

black expat , living abroad , London , United Kingdom , New York , United States
Kelsey Marie
Kelsey Marie Apr 22, 2020

Tahirah Jarrett is no stranger to travel. Born in NYC to Jamaican parents and raised in Florida by her Jamaican-British Mother, she has had her share of culture shocks. 

In 2019, Tahirah decided to take her talents from the Big Apple to London Town and she’s been living there ever since. As she was adjusting and in between moving apartments and travel plans, the coronavirus pandemic hit, which left her under lockdown. 

We had the chance to talk to Tahirah about her experience as an expat in London during the coronavirus pandemic and her self-care tips for getting through this tough time. 

Travel Noire: What inspired the move to London?

Tahirah: Living in New York’s noise for such a long period of time made me realize how much I enjoy learning about myself through different people and places. 

I’ve heard so many stories growing up about my family’s history and wanted to find a deeper connection to the context. So I dipped. I’ve been living in London for about a year and three months now and what inspires me the most is I get to relive my roots while being a wanderlust at the same time. 

Every day I wake up as I’ve already lived this life. I actually reside in the same neighborhood my grandmother was raised in, right down the street from her original home. 

Travel Noire: Why did you choose to stay in London during the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to returning to the U.S.?

Tahirah: Sadly, I was looking to return back to the states for the summer right when London officially went on lockdown. I just finished my course in Software Engineering and was getting ready to vacay in Morocco as a reward for completing the course and boom — a pandemic. 

My flight got canceled three times and I finally came to an agreement with myself that it’s best I stay put till this is all over. 

Europe is a bit safer at this point and more convenient when it comes to health and sustaining myself. 

Travel Noire: What has the energy in London been like during this time? 

Tahirah: I feel like Londoners practice social distancing the majority of the year due to gloomy weather and having no desire to be outside unless it’s an actual essential. 

So, for the most part, the streets are empty. 

We’ve had a few good sunny days and it did seem a bit busier on the streets, but people are taking precautions very seriously. 

My local grocery store, Planet Organic, offers hand sanitizers, gloves, and only allows 15 people in the store at a time. 

Photos courtesy of Tahirah

When people need to be physically active, they keep their distance. 

The most packed places have been the grocery stores though. I spend 3 hours traveling to three different places to shop and stay in lines just to enter the store for about 15 minutes. 

Yea, that’s as social as it gets. 

Travel Noire: What is your daily routine like now that you are staying at home?

Tahirah: My daily routine hasn’t changed drastically since the pandemic, which I’m happy about. I’d typically be at school, but I finished my course the same week we locked down. 

I don’t wake up as early as I used to, but as long as I’m up and out of bed before 10 a.m., it’s a good day for me. 

I start with a guided meditation or complete stillness before getting up. After brushing my teeth and my morning skincare routine, I drink some tea and journal my intentions for the day. Being that I’m actively looking for a job, I don’t have a strict work schedule. I’ve given myself deadlines for what needs to be done for the week and split them up into three categories: what urgently needs to be done, what can wait till later, and passion projects.

In between that, I make time for checking in with family and friends, reading up on the happenings of the world, and some reading. I “clock out” around 6 p.m. and then try to get some movement in. 

Whether it’s going for a walk, doing some yoga, or tuning into Zeus’s live workout, I try to keep my body in motion. 

My dinners are a little later these days but never past 9 p.m. I’ve been really experimental with my meals. During the week, I keep it very simple and very plant-based. Loads of veggies and smoothies. 

Photo courtesy of Tahirah

I like to save my creativity for Sundays. My new fave to make is a traditional Ethiopian dish (Beyainatu) or a ginger carrot and sweet potato soup. After I wind down a bit, I take a shower or bath if it’s the weekend, throw on an overnight mask, and fall asleep to a Netflix series. 

Photo courtesy of Tahirah

Travel Noire: What differences have you noticed, if any, of the way the UK is handling the pandemic vs. the U.S.

Tahirah: I’ve noticed the government is a little bit more relaxed here in London, but definitely have it more under control than the U.S. The most important thing to measure is the UK’s health security. They are well prepared to manage public health risks and have been effective in responding to the outbreaks. 

Looking at how the U.S. handles the outbreak is really concerning and has been putting fear in my heart for my loved ones there. I feel like the U.S. healthcare system is failing us and there will be a roller coaster effect of the virus and how it impacts certain states. 

Travel Noire: How did you prepare for social distancing/staying at home?

Tahirah: The most I did to prepare for social distancing was to stock up on my essentials. Food, toiletries, and of course all things self-care. 

When I heard pasta and toilet paper were the first things to sell out, I made sure to go to the specialty stores to get it. 

I created a home office in my space because I cannot work from my bed — I really don’t know how people do it! My room is super cozy and it’s very easy to step into a zen-like state of mind or fall asleep. I also gave my home a deep-clean to get rid of the old and invite in this new norm energy. 

Travel Noire: Can you share with us your self-care tips during this time? 

Tahirah: Self-care is focusing on the things we can control. I’ve been putting extra care on myself these past few weeks. I’m a lover of mask-making and tea blending, so if I can give any tip, it would be to amp up on taking care of your skin with the things you have in your home. We all have time now. 

Photo courtesy of Tahirah

My good friend recommended having fresh aloe at all times. So I use it for legit everything. I put it in my smoothies or tea, use it as a hair and face mask, and also use the skin as an exfoliator. 

Tumeric is another go-to ingredient used for multi-purposes in my routine. 

Dedicating one day out of the week is a bonus for work-life balance during this time. I like to dedicate Sundays to myself. I treat it as a day of solitude and pouring back into my own cup. Like a spa day. This is when I do the most movement, journal, meditate, and make my lush meals. I also take a bath to reset for the week and nurture the parts of me I tend to forget. 

Photos courtesy of Tahirah

When it comes to mental health, I think it’s important to keep consistent with a routine, focus on being present with our thoughts and show gratitude, and lean into the personal beliefs and faiths for support. Keep the community alive.

Travel Noire: Once this is all over, where will you be traveling to next?

Tahirah: Not to the kitchen anymore, haha. 

Being that both my Morocco and Jamaica trip has been canceled and I just may stay in London, you can probably catch me wondering in a few countries on this side of the world — and of course in countries with fewer cases of the ‘Rona like the Mykonos maybe. I’m also going to head to Johannesburg, South Africa for sure and Jamaica in October. 

Travel Noire: Can you tell us how we can keep up with you and your travels?

Tahirah: Sure! Keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter and TahirahAsha.com