Getting home during Covid-19

By now, we are all likely to be in the same boat regardless of where we are currently calling home. Everyone is presumably stuck inside and doing classwork through computers with our pj’s on, no makeup, and very little motivation to do any of it. But please keep doing exactly that, stay home for all of our sakes.

Computer laying on bed.

Since I last wrote, many things have changed. For starters, I am home in the states, a place I wasn’t planning on seeing for two years and now I am back trying to find normalcy in the most none normal of times in my generations life time. Having been a very independent person since birth, mixed with my studies abroad and living on my own, coming home and being forced to stay in with hiking trails and the like shut down hasn’t been the easiest.

I, of course, am beyond lucky to have a healthy family near by even if I can’t visit them and a roof over my head with a mom whom I love dearly, it can just be a little overwhelming at times, haha, but the majority of the world is in the same shoes so I can’t complain. Plus, it is a relief to be home rather than stuck elsewhere.Girl and her mother.

Getting home was stressful to say the least. It took around a month of wanting and trying for me to get home, which I have to thank Linfield for all of the credit. I had a gut feeling really early on that school wouldn’t be opening up in a few days or weeks after the outbreak in Italy happened. There was simply no logical way that it would be possible, even though my university and classmates were sure the “problem would resolves quickly”.

So while I headed to France to quarantine with one of my roommates, I knew I wanted to come home and not be stuck in Europe if borders started shutting down, which as we all know, they did. But, I wasn’t going to come home just to return to Italy for a week of exams in a few months and then have to find somewhere to live for a month and then move to an internship somewhere in Europe as well, all while a pandemic was hitting the world… not an ideal situation to say the least.

While waiting for word in France if classes would be moved to online, I tried to see if I could take my exams back home with a proctor at Linfield, however the responses I received were very straight to the point that I would not be allowed to do that, even though the US had sent our travel restrictions and told its citizen to not travel to/in Italy. So on top of quarantining boredom, my optimistic happy self continued to disappear with every email interaction.

For my reality, I didn’t have a place to live. I was quarantining with my roommate in her holiday home on the coast of France, but they were in the middle of selling it so we couldn’t stay there for long and I knew she hadn’t lived at home for a few years and was really not wanting to return. So as the days got closer to the end of our two week period, my stress level was just continuing to rise with the rain levels outside.

The internship that I was planning to do in the summer said I could go there early to work and live, but after having a bad experience with living at my internship in Portugal the thought of being stuck at a winery in the middle of the country without being able to leave for months did not sound like a good idea for my mental health, but was really the only option I had until I messaged Linfield and was completely open and honest with my concerns and feelings regarding the matter. My mind fixated on the idea that the internship would be the same situation it was in Portugal and, while it is more likely that it wouldn’t be, I wanted to come home.

I got an email a few days later from my European University saying that Linfield requested I come home and that they had to oblige since the schools are now partners. THANK YOU LINFIELD. Waking up to that email felt like I was able to breath for the first time in a while, I was beyond relieved. So when our two weeks were up in France (11 hour car ride from Italy) we drove some more to my roommates family home where they welcomed me with open arms. The sun started coming out more and while we were still mostly isolating and self distancing ourselves, we were able to enjoy some walks to nearby vineyards and she gave me the tour of her city, tours, and traditional French food. I had eaten vegetarian for the past month but that quickly disappeared as I was introduced to all the meats of the region.

French food

My large suitcase hadn’t fit in the car with us while we left Italy, so my other roommate who had decided to stay in Italy longer, had it in her car. But when school was switched to online she left Italy to quarantine in the south eastern part of France, and I was in the north west of France, so after literally hours on the phone we found a way to ship my suitcase (it was way more difficult than you would imagine) and after spending a week in Tours, I left for Paris where another friend of mine lives and a flight home.

Belongings from a suitcase in a small room.

My original flight kicked me off of the flight because I had recently been in Italy and while I got another ticket, I was worried the same thing would happen again and again. My stress level never went away. But, the nice thing about getting kicked off the first flight was that I had more time to spend in Paris. I wore a scarf around my face riding the buses and trains or when surrounded by a lot of people to help train myself not to touch my face. I got a lot of stares but I couldn’t have cared less. But I was in Paris, there were no restrictions at that point and by golly I was going to visit the Eiffel Tower.

Student with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Now at this point I had a lot of pent up emotions of all sorts imaginable which may have had something to do with it, but as I walked around Paris and got the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, I couldn’t contain any of it any longer. There in front of me stood a structure that somehow solidified all of my little girl dreams and desires while standing as a symbol for having reached them as well; I balled the happiest tears of my life. In all of the chaos and sadness happening in the world, that may have been one of my happiest moments.

But the day hadn’t started happy, I didn’t think I would be able to enjoy it at all and even questioned making an attempt. I woke up in the middle of the night at my hotel to the strongest cigarette smoke coming through the vents and around 25 messages asking if I would be able to come home and if I had seen Trump’s announcement.

no??? hello more stress

It was 3 am and I was confused. But then I started reading the headlines and what people were sending me. At that point there was no word if US citizens were exempt from the travel restrictions, and I was scrambling trying to find more information. After a stressed/teary/tired phone call with my mom we decided that since my plane was arriving in the states on Friday (the day it was starting to be enacted) that I should be fine since I would have already landed. So still stressed, I took some melatonin and tried to get some sleep.

My new flight itinerary had me fly into Ireland and stay there for a night before I could get on a plane that would take me to the states. And while it didn’t allow me time to enjoy Ireland I got a room in a nice hotel for the night, had some nice wine, and woke up to an Irish rainbow outside my window and I was one step closer to home and one stress level down from the day before.

Girls in a glass elevator.

After a full security pat down search from a red headed Irish man, only to decide it was my earrings that set off the alarm, and a look through all my carry on luggage that had been placed together like a puzzle, I was through security and enjoyed an early lunch with a beer at 11 a.m. and I don’t even like beer in the slightest but it was Ireland and frankly, I deserved it haha. Then 30 minutes before I was supposed to start boarding, there was an announcement for all US directed flight passengers to do additional screening on the other side of the airport. YAY… In short, I made it because our plane had electrical issues and was delayed. Still stressed.

Border check point at the airport in Dublin, Ireland.

I landed in Chicago, and while the airport was insane I was there at the right time. The pictures there a few days after me were INSANE and oh my gosh was I happy to have flown when I did. I was originally told I didn’t need to go out of security and that I would just need to get my next boarding pass at the gate but that ended up not being true because in order to get to the other terminal, I had to take a shuttle which required the boarding pass. So… I had to go all the way out just to turn around and come right back in again with not very much time in-between. I’m obviously home, I made it, but I sincerely feel for everyone who flew into the states or anywhere for that matter after I did.

So now I am home, behind in my school work unable to concentrate typing this instead, hoping everyone is safe, healthy, and not visiting with friends. My roommate, whom I stayed with in France, picked up her grandma from the hospital (not Covid-19 related) and have both been now confirmed to have Covid-19 and are not doing well, lets keep others in mind.


Coronavírus in Italy

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.

Girl standing in front of the Duomo in Milan, 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.
Girl in her room with all her luggage.
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.
Repeat, repeat, repeat…
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:
1) Classes in Italy
2) Classes in France at their Angers campus where my third term is located
3) Classes online
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)

Looking out over the ocean on the west coast of France with a large white house and tree in the foreground.Student's journal about France.Girls hand wearing a ring with the ocean and rocks in the background.


Study Trip to Spain

Hey Linfield! The week of Thanksgiving, my class took a week long study trip to Spain. We found out where we were going a week before we left, and found out that we would be driving over in a bus and that they had made reservations for us at a hotel. If you are considering doing this program, you must be flexible and patient, it is the Portuguese way. After all of our speculations of hostels, we were delightfully surprised. It was a pleasant hotel in the city center of Zamora, with easy access for food and exploring the city!

The photo looks down into a courtyard where students are looking up to the camera and standing among plants.     A student stands with their back facing the camera looking at a wall with gold decorations

But one of the best parts… we had heaters! The first night there, we all stayed in and cranked the heaters up. It felt overly luxurious and the long hours in the bus slipped behind all our thoughts.

I won’t lie, my living situation right now is not the best… frankly, it has started to really suck. But, for the entire week, I shared a hotel room with a friend and didn’t really interact with my roommates at all. It was the perfect break and perfect Thanksgiving.  And now here I am, procrastinating studying for my finals that are in a week. But I wanted to share for future prospective students about the first study trip!

  A student stands with their back to the camera, looking at the front of a building, which is white stone decorated in an arch and with a large wooden door under the arch     A large, stone building with towers and windows viewed across a courtyard

What to bring:

The bus was of course not very comfortable, but I brought a neck pillow (BRING A NECKPILLOW!) it made it so much better. We drove up to around seven hours a day so headphones and a portable battery charger for your phone are essential unless you want to listen to Portuguese static. We had the same bus and same driver each day which made it easy and stress free. (I left my purse on the bus one night with my passport… not a good idea but it was still there in the morning.) SNACKS/lunch. We ate breakfast at the hotel each morning (much better than any American hotel I’ve been too) and then stopped at a restaurant for lunch each day, and then went out for dinner when we got back to the hotel. The first day, everybody was excited to eat out, but then everyone started packing lunches to bring on the bus. Portuguese and Spanish food is very heavy and the servings are HUGE. On the third day, over half the class had brought salads for lunch–ha!

I brought my passport because we were crossing borders and thought we might need it to check into the hotel, but I didn’t take it out once.

Students sitting on a bus and smiling at the camera

Because there is so much time spent driving, we typically did not arrive back into Zamora before sunset, and left just a little after sunrise. So, if you get a late start day (we got one) take advantage of it. I walked to the Puente de Piedra bridge with a friend from class to catch the sunrise. And if you’re not an early riser, it was worth it I promise, it was absolutely beautiful with the rising sun and the quiet city. Plus, we typically had an hour drive each morning to our first destination!

A river with a stone bridge across it with a sunrise in the background

And the wine, so much wine! We visited cellars that were built in the 1700’s and are still being used today, even with brick archways without cement in between. We visited a winery that was dug underground with pickaxes and shovels so largely, an entire city block was then built on top of it (I got the feeling the family sort of owned the town, everyone knew who the owner was when we walked down the street). We stood in fields of goblet trained vines with no other view in sight. We tasted wine everywhere we went, and learned even more. Now, I do not know if in future years if the school will go to the same places, but I have no doubt that no matter where you go, it will be memorable and worth every minute!

A wine cellar with stone/brick ceilings and arches, with many barrels of wine lining both edges of the walkway       A grapevine which has grown very tall, with no grapes on it, in a vineyard       Students standing in a wine cellar, with stone ceilings and arches and many barrels of wine on both sides of the walkway          A very large hill/pile of wine grapes in a building, with steam rising from the top    Many copper pipes, other pipes, vats, and other distilling equipment inside a building. The photo looks down and across the operation from a walkway.          A group of students standing around a wine grape vine in a vineyard

Emma Anderson

5-year Dual Degree Program Introduction

Hello from Portugal! For those that do not know, Linfield has partnered with a school in Europe to offer a dual degree program that allows students to finish their bachelor’s degree while completing their master’s degree in Europe. The best part… it’s a master’s in wine, in Europe, and I have never been. Could it get any better?

The uniqueness with this program, on top of expediting your masters, is you get to study within at least four different countries. I am currently in my second week in Vila Real, Portugal at a University nicknamed UTAD. Next term will be Italy, the following: France, and then I get to choose where to do my thesis work. Throughout the semesters are study trips to different areas as well; for example this term I’ll be spending a week studying in Spain.

The set-up of this program is new and very exciting, but of course, with anything new comes opportunities for improvement. I have not started school yet, instead I had orientation for a week and now working in a wine cellar through an internship I was placed at through part of my schooling. Happy to say, I think I picked the right career path for me because I am truly loving the hard and labor intensive work.

I’ll actually start school in October and will write more personally and informative then, because I haven’t had any real down time yet, but for now I need to go taste wine with coworkers and prepare for work in the morning.


Emma Anderson