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Coronavirus 1 – year abroad 0

15 April 2020

This has been one of the craziest weeks of my life. On Wednesday corona virus seemed like a whole world away, and I was confused by the growing panic, but by midday on Thursday the whole of Spain had gone into meltdown and I started to realise that it may be much more serious than I had previously thought. The sudden chaos was apparent and one by one my friends had booked their flights home, despite the rapidly increasing price of plane tickets, and when I realised that it was very likely that I could get stuck in my flat in Spain for the foreseeable future I soon followed suit.

Booking my flight for Sunday seemed like enough time to sort everything out and safely get back to England before any emergency travel bans were put in place, but by Saturday the dread that I might not be able to leave was very real. Granada had become a ghost town. People were suddenly wearing masks and gloves, which made me think that we were on the verge of some sort of zombie apocalypse. The shops were basically empty and big plastic screens had been put up at shop counters to avoid any human contact. Fortunately my flight still went ahead, albeit one and a half hours late, due to the shortage of staff at air traffic control, and I was on my way to my home filled with the luxuries my Spanish flat lacked, like an oven, a tv and water that stays warm for longer than 3 minutes!

Since being back in England I have heard from friends still in Spain that no one is allowed to leave their house, except for getting food and emergencies, and people could receive a fine of a minimum of 100 euros if seen outside by the police with no good reason to be there. So it is fair to say that I was lucky to get home when I did, and for the price I did, as many of my friends have had their flights cancelled just days before they were planning to leave, others have had to fly via other cities such as Berlin and others have had to pay around 500 euros for a 3 hour flight from Malaga to London!

Spain’s response seemed to go from 0 to 100 overnight, which I think was due to the unexpected severity of the virus. While the cases tripled over night in Madrid, people were still permitted to travel around Spain, causing the virus, which was predominately in the North, to travel around Spain and cause greater problems. Now Spain is in complete lockdown, with all universities and schools being shut. And while I am happy to be home, I am so sad to have had to leave Granada and to have my year abroad cut short in such a sudden way. I hope that I will be able to go back soon, not just to see friends and be back in 25 degree heat, but to bring my stuff home that I had to leave behind in the panic!


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