Moving to a new city in the middle of a global pandemic

You know those apps where you sign up for a free trial and then after a month, you have to pay for the full version? That’s what my experience of moving to Bristol has been like. Except when I went to renew my subscription, I found out they’ve discontinued the premium service until further notice.

My girlfriend, Lizzie, and I were really excited about the prospect of moving to Bristol. Lizzie had a place on a master’s course here and it’s close, but not too close, to where I grew up. Everyone we spoke to gave Bristol glowing reviews, and London didn’t really appeal to either of us.

Max and Lizzie stood in front of the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Lizzie and me seeing the sights of Bristol

We moved at the beginning of October and started our free trial. In those first few weeks, when it was allowed, we managed to see most of the few friends we already had in Bristol. We went out for drinks and we went over to people’s houses for dinner (and we promise we’ll return the favour in the future). 

Figuring it was the best way to make new friends, I joined a rugby club. I spent way too long googling all of the many clubs in the area before picking one and getting in contact. I nervously took myself along to training and really enjoyed the run around. I was even added to the club WhatsApp group.

We were settling in, getting to know the city and really enjoying it. 

And then two days after that first rugby training session (which I spent an entire week being nervous about) the November lockdown was announced.

Your free trial has ended. Please subscribe to the premium version, release date tbc.

And even though we felt it coming, it was still disappointing to suddenly lose the ability to explore our new home. 

Now, we can’t see the people we do know, and we’ve got no way of making new friends.

Max on a walk in Ashton Court
Me on yet another walk through Ashton Court

If anything, taking the initial step to join a rugby club has made things even more isolating for me. There is now a friendship group full of inside jokes and lockdown activities which I see, but that I don’t feel established enough to get involved with. 

While we wait for our subscription to upgrade, the Bristol we are able to experience is drastically reduced. Instead of making friends and exploring new places, we are limited to deciding whether we’re going for a quick loop or a muddy walk, and simultaneously being glad it’s not your turn to do the weekly shop but also jealous the other person gets to go somewhere.

As I cautiously hope we’re approaching the end of this lockdown, I’m looking forward to all the things we’ve yet to do here. I loved the free trial of Bristol and I can’t wait for my premium subscription to kick in!

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