As Australia grappled with the disaster of Black Summer and increasing threat of COVID-19, Frankston defender Chris Diggle was living behind a curtain on the Californian coast.
A travel enthusiast, who has previously spent six months country-hopping Europe, Diggle based himself in a rowdy party house with 10 mates while on university exchange, studying electives in urban studies.
“I lived on campus (at the University of California Irvine) for three months but it was too expensive so then some of the guys I was friends with said ‘we’ve got a spare living room upstairs you can have,’” Diggle- undertaking a construction management course at Monash- recalls.
“I thought it was cheaper rent, and it was going to be more fun, so I just stuck up a curtain and lived behind a curtain for the next four months.”
That happy-go-lucky lifestyle was in stark contrast to the ‘full-on’ protocols of hotel quarantine in Sydney when the program was abruptly abbreviated.
Diggle remembers the constant check-ups and heavy police and security guard presence, but the silver lining was being able to isolate with two friends, including one he was on exchange with.
Yoga, music, and learning to code- largely unsuccessfully- punctuated regular banter in Diggle’s Sydney quarantine hotel.
“We were fortunate enough to get a PlayStation dropped off so we played some FIFA (soccer game) and 2k (basketball game)… (my mate) Perry’s a soccer player so I was more successful at 2K.”
Now, Diggle has swapped the Los Angeles fraternity of festivals, music and venturing Californian cities, for remote learning, full-time work and fitness-building.
“I put on about eight kilograms while I was over there in my peak of unhealthiness but I’ve been able to drop back six kilograms.
“Since coming home (in early April) I’ve been training 3-4 times a week just to get my base fitness back up and then starting to get to some tougher stuff now.
“I’ve kicked the footy with Alfie and Corey as well… I’m not a good kick of the footy anyway, though, so I surprisingly wasn’t that much worse,” Diggle joked.
“I actually took a footy and showed all my friends over there what it was; they all thought it was the craziest thing ever.”