In France, at the time of a pandemic
To give an intro, I am just going to use the same introductory words which I used in my previous article.
I came to France. A dream which I had treasured in my heart deep down since I was small. When I grew up it kind of got buried by other places I wanted to wander off. But fate they say is a mysterious thing. Everything “fell into place” in this trip and I finally got the meaning when people say “things will fall into place”. It was a ridiculous ride, the highs and lows I had to go through in a short duration of time.
That was written in January and I had no idea what was coming. It was like life had a good laugh reading that last line and said ‘You think ?’ and gave me a handful of other life experiences which was certainly one of a kind.
Who on earth thought that on my first time living abroad, a couple of months later a global frigging pandemic would happen!
The virus spread quite fast and I felt France may have been a tad bit slow to implement the precautionary measures and that they may have taken it a bit lightly in the beginning. It went from 100 – 4000 cases in several days. It was then declared as a national emergency.
And there would be a situation where everyone had to be confined, restricted or banned from travelling outside their houses. Friends who had to abruptly leave the France because all the countries were going for lock-downs. The sudden goodbyes were nightmarish. When you hug and say bye it felt like it was not real. And the next day you wake up realizing many of your friends left the country all of a sudden, and the feeling of sadness, doubt and anxiety creeps in. You realize you may never see them again and you couldn’t even give a proper goodbye!
Who knew students who paid large amounts of money to study abroad in international universities would end up having to do online lectures, online assignments, online exams, online convocations and finally bid goodbye online to the colleagues they just met a couple of months ago or couple of years ago. The online courses were horrible. It was hard to focus and a couple of minutes later you would be looking for snacks or you just fall asleep.
Being stuck at home despite what people say about eating healthy during the lockdown —for me, the habit of eating snacks sky rocketed. I realized I was stress eating. I was purchasing more snacks than usual groceries and after talking to my friends I realized I was not the only one. (For some people instead of snacks they went through the same with alcohol or may be even both)
When it comes to emotional and mental well being. All I could describe how we felt was that ‘ we felt strange’. We were not scared, yet we were shocked, feeling hopeless and zero motivation. Was I depressed? I don’t know. All the plans and dreams which many had crashed in a couple of days. When speaking behalf of many of my colleagues, when we took the decision of coming here leaving our jobs we knew we were taking a risk but little did we know how unexpectedly HUGE that risk was going to be!
The streets which were filled with shouts of the men from nearby bars, and noise of the vehicles previously, went entirely quiet. The quietness was certainly deafening. I am just glad it is not the case anymore and that France is getting back to normalcy little by little.
That was the scary, annoying and anxiety building part of the pandemic.
The sweet things in the pandemic was that you get to celebrate simple birthdays with the house mates. (But when you are in a studio apartment that would sadly be the opposite.)
When I was coming here I knew I was going to face challenges and so did my colleagues. I am proud how each and everyone of us faced head on this unexpected situation. In our own pace and in our own ways. We also learnt to be more forgiving towards ourselves.
You begin to appreciate the small things and the nature more. I personally began to notice the artworks of sky better from my apartment.
You absolutely feel grateful for the ones around you — your housemates, your best friends, family and the ones who just simply remembers you and take time to check up on you. I just felt loved and cared for by those simple messages and was definitely a power booster.
France had this wave of gratitude claps at 8 pm for medical staff, the police and other forces fighting the pandemic. Everybody would peep out of their windows and clap. However, other than that you also specially feel grateful towards the small grocery shops which are opened despite the huge crisis as well as the people who were working in the sanitation area who kept the cities cleaned and proper during the crisis.
When people were stuck inside the houses the nature was decorated welcoming the colours of the Spring. It was beautiful outside. Thankfully France had this system which allowed people to go out for essential items and for exercises etc.(You still have to keep distance if you were going with a friend). So, I got to explore just a day or two before it soon switched to flowers of Summer.
Being stuck at home, you also tend to notice what really is important and this may also lead to question about the direction of your life. It is a good thing as I believe this situation helped to change perspectives we may have had before.
The good part which is common for many countries is that governments, businesses and institutes realized the importance of digitization. They also adjusted well to the situation — the things which previously were de-prioritized became a necessity resulting in quick implementations of digitalized solutions.
Right now I feel the moral of this whole situation is ‘Expect the unexpected’ and to go with the flow. I hope things would get better for each and every individual, especially the people who are sick, the people who are mourning, the poor and homeless who were relying on the few bucks they earned each day, the people who were laid off, the ones who are looking for jobs and the ones whose dreams were destroyed within a couple of days.
Stay strong, it will get better! ❤