My dad first voiced that he thought I should come home to Canada from my study abroad in Denmark in the first week of March. It was before the novel coronavirus had caused most European governments to sound their alarms and before any major lockdowns outside of Italy had ensued. Initially, I had dismissed the idea. Denmark had experienced merely a few cases, and I naively thought the spread was containable. It seemed unnecessary to upend the life I had just established in Aarhus, Denmark, where I was supposed to stay until June. But meanwhile, the virus was quietly spreading to all corners of the globe. Two weeks later, cases were surging worldwide. Europe had become an epicentre of the outbreak. The United States wouldn’t be far behind.
This is it. We are on complete lockdown. After our Italian neighbour, this is France’s turn to go into isolation to limit the spread of the current pandemic. When our president Emmanuel Macron announced on the evening TV news, in a speech, that France was going on full lockdown for two weeks, the French didn’t imagine what life would be like during this period of time. It is not just about confinement or self-isolation in this case. This a matter of not having a legal right to go out, except with a good reason to do so and an official form to fill in -with limited options. And France has a way of reacting to issues that is very different from the rest of Europe.
It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Through the entire process of buying my essential products while waiting in line to pay, I observed people’s behavior and reactions to the entire situation. It all started with us sitting around the table in the common room of our dorm. My Danish mates were listening intensely to what the Danish Prime Minister had to say at a press conference late in the evening. With my Belgian and Romanian friend sitting next to me, we could only read their expressions and try to catch some familiar words from the Prime Ministers speech. Thirty minutes into the conference,one of my Danish friends broke the silence “so its official, Denmark’s schools and universities are closing as of tomorrow”, he said with a serious tone.
During these times when COVID-19 has spread across the world, people’s lives are being affected by the measures taken to control the spread of the virus and prevent more deaths. I am making the best out of the current situation staying at my dorm and keeping myself active by biking in the hills, cooking tasty dishes and hanging out with my roommates. I try to do the best I can to continue my exchange-program here in Denmark through online means. This lockdown-situation disturbs the daily activities of most people and is causing great uncertainty for many. Staff working and students studying at schools and universities are facing challenges because people are not able to meet physically.