Experiencing the Coronavirus Pandemic as a Chinese Student in Germany
👩🦰: 2020 is going to be my best year.
🦠: Hold my Coke.
What a year huh. I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now but I just keep getting lazier and lazier. So now, let’s rewind to January.
January was the month when I first got wind of the coronavirus situation. The first time I saw any news about it was while I was scrolling through WeChat (a Chinese social media app). I remember it was just a usual day and I was sitting in my chair when I suddenly came across an eye-catching title about the emergence of a new virus, but I quickly scrolled past it thinking it was just a dramatic click bait. It wasn’t until a few days later when I was scrolling through my newsfeed again and this time there were many more news pieces with this title and even some confirmed cases and now I was like.. ‘Hmm, Wait a minute’. Next I know, there was a virus outbreak in Wuhan and several cities were being locked down in China, and soon enough it’s a national epidemic. During this time I had a few friends at university ask me about what was going on back home and at that time people talked about it like it was a far away situation that could never touch them. It was indeed that way for about a month or more, till cases starting appearing globally and people started to get paranoid.
Slowly, cases started appearing in Europe and I experienced something I never did before. Almost everyday I’d read in the news about Chinese students being harassed and assaulted. I remember being really scared about leaving my house because I was afraid people would be rude to me too and I didn’t want that, and also I was unsure about how I’d react if someone actually did harass me. So for the first time in my life, I learnt what it felt like to be scared because you come from a certain country or a certain race. And whereas I’ve never discriminated against anyone in any way, I made an extra note to myself to make sure I never do that to anyone ever. So during those days, I wouldn’t go shopping alone, I’d always go with my friends. And I’d in general just avoid going out in public. But to my surprise, no one ever harassed me or treated me differently. On the contrary, I’d still have strangers smile at me and shop assistants treat me really polite and friendly. I was truly blown away by the fact that not a single person treated me inappropriately – I know how difficult that is to do and it just goes to show how nice and well-educated people are.💙
Next I remember, Italy became the new China. And suddenly all those schoolmates from university who had traveled to Italy at this time were being told to quarantine and get tested. It was on one of these days that I went shopping at my usual supermarket and imagine my surprise when I saw the store almost empty. I couldn’t believe my eyes and neither could I understand what was going on because during this time there weren’t many confirmed cases in Germany yet. But soon, that became the norm. Food items were flying off the shelves and toilet paper became the new gold. I clearly remember my friend and I going around the whole city in search of hand sanitizers and every pharmacy in town had a banner placed outside with the words “NO HAND SANITIZERS AND FACE MASKS!”
In the midst of all that craze, I feel like in just one day, everything changed – One day I was still out chilling with my friends in a cafe, and the next day Germany announced a partial lockdown. Schools closed, restaurants closed, cinemas closed, parks closed, libraries closed. All kinds of public gatherings were banned and no more than two people were allowed to be close together in public. Everyone was telling us to stock food, so we made a couple of trips to the supermarket to pick up beans and caned tuna, and my search for tissue paper continued for a couple of weeks until recently when they started resurfacing on the shelves of supermarkets.
I could go on and on about all the different things happening around me during this time from the supermarkets limiting the number of people who can enter at any one time to the little restaurants in Offenburg embracing the concept of food delivery, and how no one on the streets are wearing face masks despite the rising number of cases. But that’s for another day!
Also stay tuned to hear about my quarantined life. I might even make a video if I’m not too lazy.🙃
#StaySafe #StayHealthy #MuchLoveFromOffenburgAndFromMe❤️