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My Flight Home to Shanghai Was Canceled—Here’s What I’m Doing Now

I was woken up in my Boston dorm by a sudden call at 4 am. The voice on the other end of the phone was robotic and cold, telling me that my flight back to Shanghai was unfortunately canceled.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by YOUNG JI YOON (@babypink_yj) on

I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. Slouching around in my pajamas instead, I made myself a cup of coffee and reopened those booking websites, keeping one last glimmer of hope in my heart.

But they were all gone. I absolutely couldn’t find any flight in April that could take me home. I should’ve thought about this before. A few days earlier, the Chinese aviation industry announced that it would further reduce the number of international flights in order to control the pandemic. As a result, only one route of China airlines to any other country would be kept with one flight per week, and the same for every other foreign airline to China. It must have been a tough decision to make, as the flood of people who came back from studying or working abroad undoubtedly created lots of burden to the airport staff, medical staff, and staff of hotels for self-quarantine. Moreover, the risk of imported cases would lead to another serious wave of an outbreak in the country.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Zichen Cao (@caozichen0218) on

Maybe I could’ve left to go home a week earlier. I could’ve forgotten about all my upcoming midterms, papers, and projects, and just packed up all my stuff right away. I could’ve made up my mind to buy those unreasonably expensive flight tickets, and just boarded my flight with no regret about how it will increase my parents’ financial burden. I could’ve gone straight home at the beginning of my spring break so that I didn’t need to worry.

This taught me a lesson: life has no “could’ve” or “should’ve.” Every single decision that you make will ultimately have consequences, and it’s your responsibility to adjust to every change. I'm working on changing my mindset and finding things that I'm grateful for in the midst of all this panic. Here are three that I've come up with so far!

  1. 1. I’m staying with my cousin.

    This means I have a decent place to live. Though it’s not my home, it feels like home—I can cook my comfort food, and study and sleep in my quiet and cozy bedroom.

  2. 2. I’m going through this during my freshman year.

    It has a relatively smaller impact on me compared to college seniors who already feel pressure to find a job after graduation, or high school juniors who are about to step into college applications but suffer from the cancellations of standardized exams.

  3. 3. I’m healthy.

    I'm lucky not to be in the hospital or sick in bed. At the end of the day, I have the energy to do things I care about and I'm alive. Many people have lost family and friends, so it's important to appreciate the fact that we are safe and healthy.

As I’m waiting for further announcements and changes coming from authorities and continuously searching for flights in May, my heart goes out to every person who is in the same situation as me.

We can all contribute to slowing the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, keeping social distance when going out, washing hands frequently, and so much more. Let’s also take another moment to express our gratitude to the healthcare workers who have been constantly fighting for people’s lives on the front line.

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