I wish that I had a story of a big adventure, travel around New Zealand, or a fun day out with friends, but unfortunately, I am writing to you from a country wide lockdown. We are currently 6 days into a four-week-long lockdown. The whole lockdown happened pretty quickly. Two weeks ago, we found out that we would have a week off from school while the university transitioned to online classes to avoid the spread of Covid19.
Then, out of nowhere, international students started to leave. The lockdown was announced, domestic students from New Zealand were all asked to move out of the dorms, and within just a few days of the lockdown being announced, it had begun. The entire country has closed, domestic flights and many international flights have been cancelled, and we are all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Only grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Only essential workers like health care workers and grocery store employees can go out. Law enforcement officers are out during all hours, patrolling, stopping people walking and driving, questioning them, following them to make sure they were being truthful about their destination, and giving out fines and even criminal charges to people that are out without a reason.
I am staying with one of my mom’s friends, who lives in Thames, a town about an hour and a half from Hamilton. I know that I am right by the ocean, but I cannot even go out to see it! It is really nice to be staying in a house, but I had to pack up all of my belongings and move out of my dorm room, which was very sad. I am being cared for and I know that I am much safer and better off here, rather than being shuffled around at the university as they try to adjust to the situation or trying to return to the United States and getting stuck in an airport somewhere without a flight.
People seem to be taking the lockdown very seriously here, which makes me hopeful that the lockdown may end within four weeks and life might return to some sort of normalcy. However, I know that a true return to “normal” will not happen for many months. This is so overwhelming and it is hard to deal with the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic.
I find that I am experiencing a wide range of emotions, which change throughout the day. I will wake up in the morning feeling one way, and by the time I have breakfast, my emotions have completely changed. This is truly exhausting and overwhelming, but I know that I am not the only person feeling this way, and I need to make sure that I keep feeling and processing through this experience.
I am experiencing disappointment, which is natural and makes a lot of sense. I had such high hopes and big dreams for my semester abroad in New Zealand and I feel crushed by how many trips I had to cancel and opportunities I won’t have the chance to take. I am also scared. I do not know what the future holds, how or when I will get back to the United States, and how long New Zealand will be in lock down. Everything seems to be so uncertain, even how long we will be in lock down. It is overwhelming, and no matter where you are in the world, I am sure you can relate to this feeling.
In a bit of good news, I got to try a delicious new fruit yesterday. It is called a feijoa and it is a well loved treat here in New Zealand. They are originally Brazillian but grow really well here in New Zealand. The outside looks a bit like a small avocado, and you cut it in half and scoop out the delicious fruit with a spoon. It is absolutely delicious! The flavor is sweet and sour, a bit like a pineapple, a guava, and a little bit of strawberry and kiwi. It is unlike anything I have ever tasted before! It was so tasty!! I am glad I got to at least try some new fruit, despite being in lockdown. At this point, it is so important to be thankful for the little things in life.
Please take this global pandemic seriously. Wash your hands, do not go out unless you absolutely must, and please check in on the people around you, especially if you can do it virtually. We all need to do our part to flatten the curve and save lives and help the world move forward.
Thank you for reading, I hope you are staying healthy!