You know how sometimes when life is going beyond perfect and every moment has the equivalent feeling to a summer drive with the windows down, hair blowing in the wind with music blasting over the radio? Yeah you know what I’m talking about… that was Italy.
Thanks to Lizzie McGuire growing up and Under the Tuscan Sun until I die, I’ve dreamt of Italy for a very long time. I’m happy to report the short two-week introduction I got did not disappoint. I had a nice apartment with a beautiful room all to myself that let sunlight in nearly all hours of the day, I bought a succulent to keep on my windowsill, did yoga in the warm glow, liked my roommates, loved the food, had just bought a bike, and was absolutely loving my class lecture topics. My mom had just bought her plane ticket to come visit, and my sister was planning to buy hers the next week. It all felt like a summer evening until class was being shut down for 2 days, then a week, and now in the second week due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Now before this starts sounding too serious, just know I’m laughing while writing this because I just can’t get over how crazy these past months have been and regardless of all the not-so-good things I’ve had to deal with, I’m still having the best year. I know looking back at this time of my life in a few years will be a complete hoot.
We were located in the middle of Northern Italy in a city called Piacenza which is right below were Europe’s largest outbreak of the virus had started, and it of course spread fast putting 11 cities into lockdown with the infected count in the thousands and fatalities starting to add up. Now I am well aware that influenza kills more people every year and I am a young and healthy individual; I am not concerned with contracting the virus for my personal health reasons, but it is now a pandemic and I am, however, not okay with the responsibility I would hold spreading it to others… especially the elderly, and there were a lot in my apartment building, all over Piacenza and Italy.
We were told to leave Italy and to quarantine for 2 weeks, so here I am in France bored out of my mind doing just that. Even though I’m pretty certain I don’t have it, I certainly wasn’t going to be known as the “dumb American who brought it with her to France”. So, the past week and a half has consisted of sleeping, waiting for news, eating, waiting for news, daydreaming, waiting for news, not wanting to study, and more waiting for news in my roommate’s holiday home.
School is supposedly supposed to start back up this Monday in Piacenza, which means these 2 weeks will have been for nothing. The US State Department sent out a travel advisory through a program called STEPS for US citizens to retrieve travel news and so your whereabouts are known. In short, they’ve put Italy at a level 3 and 4 threat level and are saying not to travel to and through Italy. US schools have brought back their students and terminated their spring and summer terms abroad in Italy. But my situation is a little tricky since I am also getting a master’s degree while being a study abroad undergraduate student through Linfield.
Linfield was relieved when I told them I was in France, as was my mom. And neither of them want me returning to Italy.
I’ve asked if an online option could be available for me if classes continue in Italy after receiving the news from the US government and while I have not received any clear news, the three options I think the school is deciding on are:
2) Classes in France at their Angers campus where my third term is located
Going back to Italy simply sounds ridiculous to me since it’s the hotspot of the virus and wherever we go we could unknowingly be giving it to other people. It means that if my classmates travel home to France on the weekends, they could be giving it to their families. There is no hand sanitizer or masks for sale in Italy anymore. I don’t have Wi-Fi, so I haven’t been looking at the news but last I heard Trump was considering canceling all flights from Italy to the US and the Schengen countries were talking about border control. Which means if that were to happen, my roommates and majority of the class would be able to go home easily but I wouldn’t have priority or special reasoning to leave and would be stuck.
Now I am really good at going with the flow and making whatever situation I’m presented with work, it’s probably one of my better traits, but being stuck in a foreign country no matter how romantic and dreamy Italy is… doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
I’ll hopefully hear some more concrete news soon, but until then, sending my love and healthy thoughts from the west coast of France! (We got out of the house one day to see the beach)