This past week, I was forced by my program to “self-quarantine” due to the Coronavirus outbreak. And no, I do not have it. Here is what happened.
During our week-long break in mid-February, I traveled to Spain and Italy with my friends. When I returned to my class in Paris on February 24, myself, along with nine other students were informed that we will be forced to quarantine ourselves for two weeks due to our recent trips to Italy, by orders of the French government. Needless to say, I stayed in Venice and Florence–places where Coronavirus outbreaks were reported.
A self-quarantine is exactly what it sounds like. It is to live in complete isolation, not allowed to leave the room or go outside. I couldn’t fathom living like that for 2 weeks! When I returned from class that Monday night, my host family were extremely paranoid. Immediately upon entering, they left me a mask to wear around the house. My host mother was more paranoid than my host father, and she refused to stand near me (1 meter away, she said), and forced me to eat alone. I knew that I was being a burden, and already dreaded the next 14 days. Thankfully, my program found an Airbnb in Paris and I moved there the next day.
Over the next few days, I absolutely was losing my mind. I couldn’t go outside, and all I had was my phone and computer. I felt like it was worse for my health to stay cooped up like that, and it got to the point where my sleep was severely affected. My program director got me groceries, and I made simple meals. With all that time, I read a lot of news articles on the virus, and got more and more paranoid as I learned that study abroad programs in Italy were shutting down.
Sunday, exactly 6 days into quarantine, the French government lifted the quarantine for people that went to Italy. It still applies to people who have been to, or have been in contact with someone from Wuhan.
I resumed class Monday, and moved out of my Airbnb yesterday (Tuesday). I can already tell a difference in my mental health from just being outside. I’m learning that some programs in Paris are starting to shut down, and although it worries me, I know it is inevitable if that happens to Hamilton in France also.
Right now, all I can do is try to make the best of everyday. Before and after classes, I’ve been exploring Paris and I try to get out of my house as much as possible. I’m just very glad that quarantine is over–I guess it makes for a good travel story!