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.