I am a 22-year-old student currently in my penultimate year of a degree in English Literature and History at Trinity College Dublin. I'm from Cork, but have lived away from home for the past three years - an experience which has equipped me with a certain independence.
But the events of the past week, my time in Trinity grinding to a halt and being forced to suddenly move back to Cork, have reminded me that I never really fully appreciated the freedom of student life in Dublin.
Although the coronavirus has featured in the media since January - and was on my radar as something I should potentially worry about - it was only two weeks ago that I truly understood the dangerous reality as the virus arrived in Dublin.
The first case of the virus in Trinity was detected on Thursday, March 5. I felt as if Covid-19 had burrowed into our small college community, possibly infecting hundreds along the way and provoking a wave of unease to sweep through the Trinity population.
Some students wondered whether summer exams would still be held in the RDS. Others hoped for a short extension on upcoming essays and final-year dissertations.
No one, I don't think, foresaw the manner in which our academic year would be cut short, our studies shifted online and our social lives reduced to interactions through a screen.
In the course of a mere week, my priorities and expectations have changed dramatically. A fortnight ago, I worried about doing well in my exams. Now here I am sitting in the Cork countryside, keeping a careful distance from vulnerable family members and attempting to maintain some semblance of structure and daily routine.
As well as feeling anxious about the potentially devastating effect of Covid-19, there is a feeling of loss. As superficial as it may sound, I am mourning the life I had painstakingly built for myself in Dublin - one in which I had achieved a sense of self that was inherently linked with the independence of living away from home.
I cooked my own meals and did a weekly grocery shop. I met friends for lunch and drinks, sometimes staying out ridiculously late. I had a part-time job and was involved in numerous extracurricular activities.
When I first got back home to Cork, I felt as if that process of personal growth had abruptly stopped and been replaced by the imperative of focusing on the health crisis at hand. It is understandable, of course, that it would be. Now I am dependent on occasional lifts from my parents if I want to go anyhwere.
I eat what everyone else is eating and my mother does the groceries. There is a good chance I will not meet my college friends for weeks.
A pandemic is not the time to sit around moping about an identity crisis. That said, I think many will agree that the last number of days have shown the importance of treating oneself and others with kindness.
The hustle and bustle of my metropolitan life in Dublin has been replaced by country walks, evenings spent drinking tea and phone calls with friends. In place of the quiet haven that is the Trinity Library, my mornings and afternoons are spent in my childhood bedroom, reading e-books and trying to come to terms with the experience of attending lectures through a screen.
I most likely would have faltered in this effort by now if it weren't for the resourcefulness and trojan efforts of my professors, many of whom were previously unfamiliar with online teaching methods, but have taken the adjustment in their stride over the space of a few days.
I am thinking especially of all the students I know in similar positions. Some of my friends have volatile home environments. Others do not have a place to study. Many are currently experiencing intense loneliness, frustration and fear.
Although I too am afraid, I have found solace over the past week in the smallest things. A video call and a virtual 'hug' with my 80-year-old grandmother, the sound of the birds when I awake in the morning, time finally spent tidying my childhood bedroom - a task I had put off for the past three years.
In the midst of uncertainty, I suppose, the small things must become the big things.
As we begin a period of social distancing and isolation, we've asked three writers to document their experiences. Today, it's the turn of Gráinne Sexton, a student in Trinity College. Follow her journey in the Irish Independent in the days and weeks ahead.