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I asked 10 different people from around the world the same 3 questions regarding their experience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they said:

 

Marguerite – Lyon, France

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: For me, it would have been really harsh to do my quarantine alone. Being with my family at that time made it easier than I thought and I did not feel it was that harsh for me. I was lucky enough to have a big home with a garden in the countryside so I could go out and take walks in nature by myself, with some members of my family and even with one or two friends who lived really close (with masks on and distanced). The harder part was maybe not being able to go out dancing, but we would put on music while doing the dishes and dance with my brothers so it was fine. Another thing was to adapt again to the family life (having lunch and dinner everyday with them and having to adapt, not feeling as free in the timetable, but that wasn’t due to government restrictions, and in the end, we found our rhythm).

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: During the past 8 months, though it was, of course, a really strange time, I could not say I didn’t like it. Quarantine enabled me to refocus, not being spread over too many activities, and spending more time with family. I started playing the guitar again and have been way more consistent with it now which is great! Also, it enabled me to do some research about masters which led me to change my plan and start a master in cultural tourism in France!

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Concerning the covid situation, I cannot wait for the bars and clubs to open again. I miss dancing so much…. Also, being able to see a lot of people at the same time without feeling it’s bad and just enjoy some cool moments with whoever I want!

 

Jannis – Germany; London, U.K.

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: Generally I was lucky that restrictions in Germany did not include a ban from going outside at any time. I was able to go for runs and walks at any time, that really helped. Later, I found it really difficult to focus on university when all seminars are online. 

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: Within the pandemic, I was able to find a job at a German Local Health Authority to work on pandemic containment and contact tracing. I am really grateful for this experience, one I, as a political scientist, did not intend to make but definitely opened new perspectives for me. Furthermore, I was able to look back on the past years and think about them in more extensiveness. Before, the time to calm down and appreciate the experience I’ve lived through was little, slowing down within the pandemic helped me to appreciate what I experienced much more.

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Being able to be spontaneous. Having a good discussion in an in-person seminar, going for a tea afterwards and ending in a pub. Meeting people on campus by accident just to spend the whole day with them and their friends. All these unplanned encounters that are just genuinely nice and just to be normal. 

 

Andrés – Bogotá, Colombia; London, U.K.

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: During the first months of the lockdown, with no doubt the most difficult restriction was not being able to see my relatives, including my girlfriend, mother, and other family members. Now that I am in London, the most difficult restrictions have been those on international travel and being forced to self-isolate whenever I come back to the UK.

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: I must admit that my experience has been good as none of my relatives have been infected by COVID. My thoughts are with all those who have lost someone during this year. If I had to pick one positive thing, it would probably be the way in which me and my friends found alternatives to remain together. We started playing online board games almost daily and now we talk even more than before the pandemic! I also think that this weird period allowed me to appreciate more the small moments of daily routine that we lost during the lockdown, like sharing a beer with your partner, cycling to work.

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Besides the things that we may all agree with, like being able to hug people again, traveling, and attending football matches (that was one of the reasons I had chosen London as my new home!); I really look forward to a broader acknowledgement on how fragile we are as a human species and the degree of interdependence that we have with each other. The pandemic exposed once again how inequality can be a matter of life and death as, even in wealthy countries like the US and the UK, millions lost their jobs and now rely on food aid programmes. In Colombia, your risk of dying of COVID is ten times higher if you live in a very low-income neighbourhood compared to those living in a high-income neighbourhood. This may be wishful thinking, but hopefully the pandemic will be a wake-up call on the necessity of a fairer distribution of resources and our duty to assure equal access to basic services.

 

Lorenzo – Southern Italy 

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: For me, it was at the beginning when I was in Italy. Lockdown was much stricter than the UK and the fact that I couldn’t go outside and socialize with people was very hard. 

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: Overall I enjoyed more time for myself and I became closer with my family. Also, while I was in quarantine for two weeks with my cousin after we both arrived in Italy from Scotland, my grandmother – who was living in the apartment below – would make us great food and leave it outside our door for us to eat. That was really kind and made things easier. 

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: A vaccine.

 

Karen – Marblehead, Massachusetts, U.S.

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: The hardest was when our son was hospitalized with a potentially very serious issue when the pandemic first started in a major way. We were unable to visit him in the hospital and deathly afraid of him being exposed to COVID-19 in addition to his issue. Also, not being able to frequently get together with our friends. I’m blessed with so many wonderful friends I’ve known for over 50 years, one for 67 years (yikes!). In addition to our age, most of us have medical issues which we all know could lead to death with exposure to the deadly virus. 

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: Because her school was closed for many months, we cared for our 5 year old granddaughter frequently. The child is funny, sharp, and empathetic and she provided us with hours of entertainment!

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Not wearing a mask everywhere! Have been unable to find a mask that doesn’t fog up my glasses and make me blind. Also, being able to go to the movies, out to eat, to the theater etc. And as I’ve mentioned before, getting together with friends. Having a simple but fun life!

 

Louise – Bialystok, Poland; Wiesbaden, Germany

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: The most difficult thing to follow for me is honestly to keep 1,5m distance (or however much they want people to be apart in public) because stores here can be sometimes really tight or just on the street I tend to sometimes pass people closely. I’m always wearing my mask when I leave the house since it’s law here now but I still struggle with that.

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: Is it appropriate if I say that Biden winning the election might be the best thing that happened in all of 2020? Lol. But seriously the best thing might’ve been to learn to adjust to a new situation. Even though I struggled in the beginning with all the new restrictions and not being able to travel etc. I got used to it and it feels kind of normal by now. It’s sort of a lesson for life that you can make any [bad] situation work if you adjust your attitude and try hard enough.

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Easy. Traveling. 

 

Caroline – Rochester, New York

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: The most difficult restriction I have had to follow is online learning- I am a junior in college and it is hard to get through tough engineering classes in an online format. I also intended to study abroad in Spain starting in January 2021 which I will not be able to do and that is an unfortunate effect of Covid because I won’t be able to have that experience again.

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: One positive thing I have experienced is I was able to go back to school at the University of Rochester for a partially in person semester and we were able to make it through the intended length of the semester without being shut down like some other colleges in the area were. My classmates were very diligent about following guidelines and it allowed us to have some semblance of a normal semester.

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: I look forward to my senior year of college as we will hopefully be able to have a more normal year and celebrations by that time as we will (hopefully) be vaccinated by then. I also look forward to traveling to Europe at some point in the future when it is safe as I have never been!

 

Tommy – New York, New York

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: For me it has been international travel. My wife is from Belgium and we had tickets to fly over there to see her family on 3 separate occasions since the pandemic hit, so that has not been easy on us or her family. 

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: Most lives all around the world have been affected and I think collective priorities have changed since the pandemic began. I mean this in terms of finding new things to enjoy. For me focusing on mental health, reading books more, physical activity etc. It took me, I would say, 7 months to feel mentally healthy again after the barrage of negativity surrounding our everyday lives. 

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future?

A: I look forward to traveling more freely again, specifically internationally. I would like to know it is safe to see my wife’s family and my sister again who is living abroad. 

 

Fiona – Scotland

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: Definitely not being able to have friends over/go to their houses. During the summer it was awful not being able to see anyone because I’m a massive extrovert and thrive off socialising. September onwards I was glad to at least be able to see my friends, but it would almost always be going out to a cafe with them. In that way I’ve ended up spending quite a lot but I don’t have a job so it’s been pretty hard. I wish I could invite them over to hang out in my flat!

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: I suppose the first thing I thought of is submitting my dissertation? I found it really hard to concentrate at first but then worked hard on it and was happy with what I submitted. Now I’m just waiting on the results so I hope I did well!

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: Far future or near future? Currently I think I am most looking forward to Christmas! I can’t wait to be home, with my immediate family, and happy with the Christmas spirit and festive feeling.

 

Eve – Rhode Island, US

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most difficult restriction you’ve had to follow?

A: Going into college with covid was hard because it was difficult to meet new people.

Q: What is one positive thing you’ve experienced during the past 8 months?

A: I’ve definitely had a lot of time to relax and focus on my mental health which has been nice.

Q: What do you most look forward to in the future? 

A: I look forward to being able to travel and to see my friends and family.  

 

*Written on the 30th November 2020*

 

Julia is a postgraduate student studying International Conflict Studies at King's College London. Originally from the Greater Boston area, she enjoys English weather but will always be a sucker for the cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers of New England. She wouldn't mind spending her career behind a computer, whether researching and writing about past and present events in the international sphere, or writing more fun and creative lifestyle pieces.
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