Photograph of the ocean from the cliffs of Rosscardbery, West Cork, by Aisling O’Sullivan.

It’s been over a year since Ireland was placed into full lockdown on March 12th, 2020. The lockdown was originally planned to only last two weeks and, for a final year college student who had just completed their Final Year Project, this was a welcome opportunity to relax and unwind. However, two weeks quickly turned into months of on-and-off lockdowns with varying levels of restrictions and constant concern for family and friends all trying to avoid contracting COVID-19.

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I was unsure whether to pursue a master’s degree, especially during the global pandemic, and so I applied for the Publishing MSc in Edinburgh Napier University quite late. By the time I was accepted into the master’s, trying to organise short-notice accommodation in Edinburgh was challenging, especially with restrictions making it more difficult to travel from Ireland to Scotland.

I opted to remain at home in Cork for the first trimester with the hopes of potentially moving over for the second trimester. The prospect of studying a master’s degree based in Scotland while remaining in Ireland seemed perfectly normal after months of staying indoors, but I soon realised it would be a lot more challenging than I had expected. After attending the first few weeks of lectures and getting to know my classmates, I began to envy them. Hearing my classmates’ stories of their time in Edinburgh, I felt I was missing out on all of these amazing experiences.

By November, I made the decision to move to Edinburgh towards the end of January. I managed to organise accommodation and was getting to know my new roommates through online video calls when new restrictions came into effect in January following a rise in COVID-19 cases over the winter break. Once again, I was stuck in Ireland and had to come to terms with the fact that I would most likely finish my master’s degree before ever seeing Edinburgh. At this point, I was feeling pretty disheartened and spent the next two months living with my parents whilst looking for accommodation in Cork.

During these two months, the second trimester was in full-swing and, as my work load increased, finding somewhere to live was becoming exhausting. After countless online viewings due to lockdown restrictions prohibiting travelling to view the locations, I managed to organise accommodation by the seaside in a small village in West Cork called Rosscarbery. Due to the village being an hour away from Cork City, there were far more affordable options than the overpriced, cramped apartments available around the city. It was a huge relief to finally have somewhere to live and, as a result of lockdown forcing universities and companies to adapt to remote learning/working, the thought of studying and working from such a beautiful area as West Cork was incredible.

All of my efforts to move to Edinburgh made me think about the current work culture in UK publishing. I’ve always been told that if I wanted to get into publishing I would have to ‘move to London’. However, I don’t think this should continue to be the norm. UK publishing has always gravitated around major cities like London and Edinburgh, but with remote working becoming a normal practice for many industries, this may no longer be the case in the future. While remote working is not suited for everyone, I would be happy to continue working remotely if given the opportunity.