Sofia, 28, Italian, currently in Mirano (Italy) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

Since Covid-19 hit Italy (end of February), everything has turned upside down. Work has always taken me far from my family: I live and work in Milan since 2017, before that I spent some time working in Amsterdam. The lockdown reunited us and it was a privilege to spend so much time with family again. Also, my daily routine had become oppressive and entirely work-centred. Now having spent half of the lockdown furloughed/working from home I’ve finally tidied up my priorities. More than ever I’m taking real care of myself. Exercising and practising a bit of self-love for the first time in years. Finally, I truly didn’t believe that the world could pause as it did. And despite all the drama, I’m thankful for all the silence, calm and beauty I’ve experienced now in a way I had never imagined.

What is your wish for the future?

I hope we’ll be able to learn from this pandemic. Learn to cherish what we have, watch over what matters the most and be selfless. As well as more respectful towards everything and everyone around us. My wish is to see this crisis turn into an opportunity. All these people cannot have died in vain, our efforts cannot blow away.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

Right now, I wish I could hug all my friends who are stuck abroad away from their families and that may have lost their beloved ones without even having the chance to say goodbye. There’s nothing as painful as being apart in such critical times.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Carlotta, 30, Italian, currently in Milan (Italy) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

I left my full-time job in February and rented my flat out, and I was going to spend two months travelling solo through Central and South America. It was a much-needed trip after an exhausting and mentally-tiring year, and it was my first solo trip. I was planning on coming back right before turning 30, and be with my family and friends celebrating. I managed to leave just before the pandemic broke off in Italy, and travelled Mexico. Then the situation worsened both in Italy and in Mexico, and the entity of it really hit. After just three weeks of travels, I made my way back home: it took me 6 days and I will never forget the chilling experience it was. Now I am living in my old bedroom at my parents’ house as my house is still rented out. I find myself without a job with a job market on its knees, and no way to move back abroad as was the plan. I’m grateful for having my parents close during this moment and especially since we lost grandma to the virus – but it is unsettling to realise none of us feels good about even going out, with an ambulance passing by every hour in Milan.

What is your wish for the future?

I wish we will be able to bring everything we learnt during this pandemic with us into the future: a sense of community, an eye to the world and nature surrounding us, an appreciation for slowing down and being mindful about how we use our own time, and value for those small things and the people in our life we rediscovered. We have since a tad of a world without vaccines and closed borders, where everyone is their neighbours’ enemy; it wasn’t nice. We are part of this world that has just given us the chance to stop and think – let’s be smart about it.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

I would love to be travelling, crossing borders freely on a plane, by car, on a train. I would like to be heading back to South America, to Africa and Australia. I want to hug all my friends scattered across the world, go trekking with them, surfing or just lying on a beach.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Rowan, 56, British/Australian, currently in England – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

Tuesday (12th of May) was the start date for my new job in Hobart. I came to Cambridge for a post-doc, but my husband died half-way through, I clung on by my fingernails till the end of my contract, collapsed in a heap and haven’t got back up for 2 years. So the move to Hobart for a proper, professional job was real progress. First I needed to visit my mum in Scotland. At 86, who knows when, or even if I’d see her again, moving to the other side of the planet. I also need to finish dealing with my husband’s estate. Then the virus hit. I moved out of the housing co-op where nearly 100 of us live together, so I could isolate to not risk infecting Mum. I moved in with my boyfriend, 3 loads across Cambridge on the bike. We rented a car and headed north just as Australians were being urgently recalled. I couldn’t just leave without seeing Mum and sorting things out. We arrived just after my stepbrother, who was visiting from Australia, left and lockdown started. Mum, a professional housewife, shops at M&S and Waitrose. There were no delivery slots to be had and the best I could organise was phone shopping and delivery to the car boot with the Co-op, but that was too much of an adjustment for Mum, who snuck out in the car at 8am to get her dose of M&S, the first time she’s driven alone for years. Her husband, who is frail, would be very unlikely to survive the virus. After we left he did succeed in crashing the car into the side of the house, righting it off and requiring the attendance of all the emergency services. The trip back to Cambridge was a record 6 hours across an eerily deserted country, with a risk of being stopped by police. As I started to prepare for my flight, Australia and Tasmania both introduced quarantine in government facilities. This would mean a month in solitary confinement, with no access to the outside world, maybe not even telecommunications. Australia’s had good practice at this, it’s been doing it to refugees for years. Qatar Airways had cancelled one leg of my flight rebooking me on a later flight which missed the connections stranding me in Doha, and were unreachable. I contacted my employer to see if they’d had a change of heart about letting me start later or remotely. It took him 10 days to reply, saying they’d delayed the project 3 months, by which time I’d finally managed to get through to QA and rebooked my flight. If I caught the new flight I’d have to quarantine in Melbourne and Hobart, but Qantas doesn’t allow a stopover for this so I’d lose my flight to Hobart. I checked to see if I could travel by ferry instead and found that I didn’t seem to meet the travel criteria. So this is what my boss meant by ‘travel restrictions’. I contacted Jetstar, the Melbourne-Hobart carrier, and they said they would take me. Are you sure?, I asked, Your website says residents and essential workers only. Let me check. Long pause. Ok, no, we can’t take you. Time to contact my MP. Oh yes, you can travel to Tasmania. Are you sure, I asked, the ferry and the airline say ‘no’. Let me check. Next day. Oh no, sorry, you can’t come. Ok, well can you let me know how I meant to know whether I can travel or not? QA cancelled my flight again and this time said I can rebook any time. So at the moment, the plan is to go in July if they haven’t gone bust by then. In the meantime, I’ve reported the airline for not being contactable and complained to the UN about Australia’s cruel and unusual punishment of people in quarantine. People have died in there. By the time I get to Hobart, I hope I have sufficient sanity to actually do this job.

What is your wish for the future?

 I wish we could come out of this with a more life-loving culture. Can’t we find a way to live that allows other life to live too? The way we’re going, it’s going to be just humans and our domestic species left.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

If I could, I would be running my conservation start-up, but I can’t do it alone, if you know anyone who might want to help!

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Elisabetta, 29, Italian, currently in Lodi (Italy) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

COVID-19 totally changed my way of life. I’m a teacher in Lodi, very close to first Coronavirus outbreak here in Italy. Since the beginning (February 21st) my school has been closed and my job suddenly became a different job. I used to spend half a day with students, and now I see them on screen. It’s nice, but it’s not the same feeling. Moreover, I can’t see my grandpa, who’s 95 years old and lives with his 90 years old sister in a different town. It’s hard, but I discovered unexpected strength in me, so I fight sadness and I hope to see my beloved ones soon.

What is your wish for the future? 

My wish is to hug grandpa and a dear friend who lost a relative. I’d also like to go outside again. I’d like to see my students and say “good luck for your future guys” because next year they start high school and I‘m not sure I will see them again to say goodbye.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

If I could do anything, probably I’d go to my grandpa’s home and spend some time with him and his sister, my great aunt.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Hanna, 22, Dutch, currently in Groningen (The Netherlands) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

I think like many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected me the most socially and financially. I just moved to a new city in February where I planned to work for half a year before starting my Masters. Soon after settling in, I got a job in a lovely cafe but then due the pandemic had to close after two weeks of me starting. After all the expenses of moving into a new apartment with my boyfriend, I was excited to work but this was cut very short. Finding another job is challenging as many require social contact or are full-time, which wouldn’t be possible come September when university starts. My boyfriend has also not been able to work due to COVID-19 but luckily he qualifies for financial support so we can still pay everything (just!). COVID-19 has also made spending time with family and making friends in a new city nearly impossible, so we spend a lot of time together. My mum recently turned 60 but we couldn’t celebrate together as a family due to travel restrictions and social distancing rules. We also planned a weekend away in Budapest but we, unfortunately, had to cancel it. My sister was living close by but due to her university being closed until September, she’s moved back home which is sad as we can no longer spend time together. However, it is lovely for our parents to have her home again. Perhaps most of all social distancing has affected my family being able to visit my grandmother who is nearly 90 and loves seeing us but we can’t visit her anymore and I am worried she’s getting lonely. We exchange emails regularly but I think it would be more special to skype but technology is difficult and now she can’t have someone there to help or show her how to do it. We don’t have total lockdown here in The Netherlands so I can still go outside often (but of course following the rules of social distancing) to cycle, run or enjoy the sunshine which makes spending more time inside than usual okay. I’ve tried to make the most of being inside so much so I’ve started baking again, reading and growing lots of plants which makes the apartment really feel like home.

What is your wish for the future? 

I wish for the future that we learn to care for each other more and that small acts of kindness can go a long way. That we adapt human activity to allow the environment to heal as it is now and that families come together.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

I would love to be doing exactly what I was doing before this all started; enjoying working, exploring my new city, and saving up for the future. In the evenings I would love to be picnicking with my family on the beach and just enjoy the freedom of being outdoors.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Dave, 31, British, currently in New York City (USA) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

Hello! I’m Dave and have been in America for three years. I moved here with my wife at the beginning of 2017, had a daughter who is two now, and have two stepchildren, both boys who are 5 and 7. The pandemic has caused me to be furloughed from my workplace meaning I have no income, which in itself would not have been as big a problem as it is, except that as I only received my Green Card in January, I had not been working Legally long enough to claim unemployment insurance. The uncertainty about when help will be available is a cause of background anxiety most days. Thankfully, myself and my wife are strong and resourceful and have overcome a lot before this so are just going through all the things we need to do and waiting on the help to become available. Me, my wife and my three children had actually moved from a family shelter in Manhattan to a house on Staten Island during the lockdown and this is our first proper home together due to various circumstances. Being from England also means that I keep track of events happening in Britain too, hoping my friends and family there are staying safe and doing ok. Overall, the pandemic has changed moving into our first family home together from something of a fresh start with less worry and stress to another situation with unstable dynamics at play.

What is your wish for the future? 

For the future, I’m hoping for people to learn from the experience, to be better prepared and to be less selfish than before. I’m lucky to be in a State where provisions for Immigrants legal and Undocumented are of a very high level, minimizing the potential impact of something like this and I would hope to see that extended to everywhere else too. I’m looking forward to working again and just having a more certain financial situation than at present!

What would you like to be doing right now?  

It would be nice to be able to explore my new neighborhood a bit more and take some photos. Other than that it’s actually great to spend lots of time together as a family!

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Maja, 23, Norwegian, currently in Terråk (Norway) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

I gave birth to my second child in early April, and there was a huge difference from when I gave birth to my first child. The restrictions due to COVID-19 revolving my pregnancy and giving birth, are what affected me the most. We live 2 hours from the nearest hospital, and due to the pandemic, the father is not allowed to be with the mother until she is in active labour, which is basically right before the baby arrives. Knowing that my fiancé might not have made it to see his child get born and that I might not have had his presence and support during the hardest part, made me very anxious and scared. Luckily, he got to take part in it all. But there were other restrictions too: if he was going to stay with us until we could go home, he could not leave the building and come back and there were also no visitors allowed. When we finally got back home, we couldn’t show off our new pride and joy to family and friends, because of mandatory quarantine from having been outside our small town.

What is your wish for the future? 

My wish for the future is that we learn from this historical event. That the wet markets in China are shut down for good, that the economy grows strong again, and that we grow strong as a community from this. And hopefully, if there is a next time, nations will take action sooner. I hope that leaders and governments all over the world do not scoff at the danger and act too late.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

If I could do anything, I would love to back in my home town with my family, and just do everything we usually do this time of the year. We’d take the snowmobiles up to our mountain cabin, ice fish, play in the snow etc.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Pragnya, 31, Indian, currently in Bhubneshwar (India) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

Namaste. Being a doctor and married to a doctor is not an easy job in this Corona time, especially when your love has to fight it out in the forefront & 700 km away from you. I was scared of those initial days where I saw patients without any protective gear (when Corona in India was not in the news): I wouldn’t go to my home which is just 30 min away by car because my parents, who are well above their 50s, reside there and as we all know COVID-19 affects the elderly real bad. The government acted pretty fast and state lockdown was announced even before the National lockdown but it’s really difficult to stay away from family in this crisis time. Initially, people weren’t that aware but as the COVID-19 numbers started building up, fear and despair also started building up: on the work front, the situation was gloomy. But then we always remember: country and countrymen first. A state representative would come and address the people at around 4:30 every day and we would listen to him with all ears. A similar provision was there for the whole country: it would be addressed and details would be given out and reassurance would be given to us because it’s always better to know your enemy, an unknown enemy is more dangerous. It was pretty depressing going through international news, knowing about the situation in Italy and US, having friends and fellow doctors there, talking to them and getting to know about the real picture (which was even worse) and yet comforting them, that things will be better soon and we are all together in this situation.

What is your wish for the future? 

All in all, I wish that the whole world should heal from COVID 19 situation, and we can go back to be together with our loved ones.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

I am a doctor, I am treating and will continue treating patients for the betterment of society.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.

Kerry, 59, American, currently in the Woodlands, Texas (USA) – Live: From The Pandemic

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you the most?

My name is Kerry and I live in a small township, 40 miles north of Houston, Texas, USA. I was born in San Francisco but brought up in Scotland. My Scottish born husband and I moved from Cairo to our current home almost 16 years ago. I think my chronic mental ill health has been most affected by COVID-19 but right now everyone feels the same as I do, all the time! Anxiety, depression, fear of an uncertain future and a little panic flitters through my mind from day to day. At the same time, I am enjoying the blissful quiet with fewer cars and people. As an introvert (who poses as an extrovert), I am used to self-isolation but I am not alone… My husband of almost 38 years is working from home. He works in the oil industry and this is not our first oil crisis. A few years ago he was laid off but found another job in 6 months. This time we think he might be retiring early at 62. I work for destination management companies, managing transportation or facilitation of conferences. Somewhat ironically, I had just taken a couple of months off, from my contract positions, after some very busy jobs that exhausted me mentally and physically. Then I was offered a permanent job which I turned down. Our industry relies on transport (air and land) and business operating as usual so I doubt there will be any of this type of work for a year or more but who knows? Texas has a habit of bouncing back after natural catastrophes but this is a scary invisible combatant. This is not our first pandemic, however, as we lived in Egypt during the first SARS epidemic. I was travelling from Cairo to Malaysia and I remember, on my return, that the customs officers in Cairo were using the same old school thermometer that touched all the passengers! A British doctor behind me was enraged at their dangerous incompetence but I was too scared of going to jail to say anything. We also lived through Mad Cow Disease (BSE) in a rural, agricultural area of Scotland. In an effort to combat the farmers’ fear of BSE, our local butcher would write the provenance of the meat on a board each day. When I was born in San Francisco in 1960, I was one of the last baby boomers to get a smallpox vaccine before the disease was eradicated. I write this only to illustrate that this is not humankind’s first pandemic rodeo and probably not the most deadly. I live in a small street, in a master planned forest community and our neighbors are all close. It is so hard to communicate by phone or email with very little personal contact. Sometimes we shout across the street when out for a daily walk. We have been advised to start wearing masks everywhere. There were none available but two of our neighbors have been making colorful ones for anyone who needs them. Ours arrived from China a few days ago. It has been hilarious to see guys wearing a bandana as a mask – it looks like the supermarket is full of robbers or banditos! In February we thought that my husband had flu. In retrospect, it is possible that he had COVID-19. Just before this I had been greeting thousands of airport passengers coming from all over the world, shaking hands and getting up close. Maybe I was one of the asymptomatic carriers?

What is your wish for the future? 

I would like to see my American and British/Irish family one more time. Texas is thousands of miles away from most of my cousins who live in California, Maine, Ireland and Scotland. My husband and I are both only children whose parents have passed away so although we are blessed to have each other, it also feels a little lonely. As a society, I hope we learn to care for each other more and use this quiet time to think positively about the future.

What would you like to be doing right now?  

I would love to be able to help more constructively but I am going to be 60 in July with a history of lung problems. This means I am one of the vulnerable groups and suddenly feel very aware of ageing. For now I continue to keep in touch with isolated relatives and friends while writing posts of my blog.

If you would like to share with us, please submit your story here.