Wherever you may be reading this post from, we all have one thing in common – COVID-19 is keeping us all at home and away from the lives we had become so used to, whether we’re abroad or at home.
Our Caribbean Millennial community is made up of travellers from around the diaspora sharing stories of their travels to inspire our peers to do the same. COVID-19 may have put a pause to our collective travel plans for 2020, but these reflections from our peers will shine some light on how to handle such an expected situation when living abroad.
Hi I’m Balinda, an English Language Assistant with the BEDA program here in Oviedo, Spain. I’m persistent, honest and an absolute nature-lover.
Balinda is one of the many Caribbean Millennials currently in Spain on the BEDA Program, a teaching English program linked to the University of Comillas. She is originally from Barrackpore, Trinidad & Tobago.
What is the situation like where you are based?
Currently in Asturias there are over 779 people infected with COVID-19 and 25 people have died from it. The previously busy streets are now empty, well my street since that’s the only thing that I see from my window, except for the occasional passing of the bus and one or two cars. When I see people outside, like 2 or 3 people, they usually have a grocery bag so people are out just to get the essentials which is a good thing.
What was your life like just before COVID-19 hit vs. today?
Wow, you never expect a world pandemic to slap you right you in the face so before COVID-19 I kind of had a routine. I was now getting into gym mode and had paid for 3 months. During the week it was just going to work, going to my favourite cafe, cooking, gym, grocery shopping, reading and watching Netflix. Now and then I’d pop into some stores, try on clothes and maybe buy one thing, or 2 or 3 things because it makes me happy but now I can’t do that. The worst of it all is not being able to travel!
Just before COVID-19 I had gone on a trip to Pamplona and France’s Basque Country with my roommate. By just being in Europe it’s so easy and cheap to travel so every long weekend or holiday was a travel opportunity. On the weekends I’d go out on a new hiking adventure, which is my favourite hobby and what perfect timing for COVID-19 to hit! Just when it’s warming up and I was mentally preparing myself to get back out there and do some more hiking in Asturias.
How are you coping and using the time in quarantine?
Today makes it 2 weeks since I’ve been in quarantine and it honestly feels like a blur. I can’t believe that it’s been that long.
At first it was hard for me because my roommate had no other choice but to go back to the US last week since her program ended because of the situation. We had planned to do so many things together during the quarantine like cooking and watching movies, which we had started doing, so when she left that hit me hard.
We all knew that the quarantine was coming in Asturias too so right before I went out to a store and got crocheting materials. Crocheting is something that I’ve always wanted to learn and now I have all the time in the world to do just that! I have been crocheting things, learning new techniques, cooking a lot and trying to master my roti-making and doubles skills. Everyday I also talk to my parents and family and friends.
What’s one thing you want your friends & family to know about how you’re doing right now?
I’m safe inside so they don’t need to worry. In 2 weeks today was the first day that I left my apartment to go to the small shop across the road just to get 5 things. I’m taking this situation seriously so they really don’t need to worry about me being out there exposed because I’m inside the apartment alone, it’s just me here and no one is coming in or going out. The calls and messages from all my family and friends are greatly appreciated and its what keeps me sane during this time!
What’s the first thing you’ll do once everything goes back to normal?
Obviously go outside!! Knowing myself I’ll probably do a hike once it’s really safe to go out but right before that I’ll just go outside and sit on a bench to watch and appreciate everything. Sadly my friends are no longer here in Asturias, my other friends are in Madrid and no family here either so I can’t have a going out day with them which would have been the perfect thing to do right after all of this.
What advice do you have for Caribbean Millennials who may be wary of moving abroad after this pandemic?
This is not the first pandemic to happen. It’s also not something that happens every year so don’t let this be a reason for not wanting to travel or move abroad in the future. Obviously this will need some time to calm down before everything goes back to normal but when it does and it’s safe to travel again, send that application, resume or whatever it may be and go forth with all your travel dreams! You will always have support no matter what when you’re abroad, old and new friends, family, work colleagues and now with technology you’re never really alone. Just continue being clean and never stop the act of washing your hands…with soap!