I am just staring at the ocean. It is calm now, like everything around me. The beach that once was full of laughter, love and beautiful people of all ages is empty. The only thing I can hear is the sound of the waves. The border between the dark blue ocean and the sky is a thin, pink line with orange hues.
But you know what? It is still breathtaking and wonderful, this city called A Coruña, in Galicia, Spain.
So here we are, doing our Erasmus exchange during the Coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, I came here in September so I had the chance to enjoy many of the things this place has to offer, starting with the natural beauty, the incredible historical heritage and the amazing Erasmus experiences, which of course was favoured by an extraordinary ESN team.
Not long ago, we were all informed about how things were in China and how fast the virus was spreading. We knew it would be just a matter of time until it would reach Europe as well. Still, we weren't completely aware of how severe the situation actually was and we just kept living our dream, making unforgettable memories, enjoying it and making incredible plans for the following months.
Sunday, 8th of March
We were in a restaurant, lost in the streets of the historical old quarter of Santiago de Compostela when they reported on the news the actual situation in Spain. We talked and realised the severe reality.
That was the moment when our hearts thought of home and our families, more than ourselves. We knew the risk we would take by going home, so we decided to stay in Spain.
Friday, 13th of March
On this day, the university closed its gates but we understood that it was the best decision and we were ready to continue our studies through the online platforms and courses designed for us.
Saturday, 14th of March
When we woke up in the morning the sun was shining, the water was sparkling and the surfers were catching the waves. It was a wonderful day, probably because we felt that it would be the last day we would be able to enjoy what nature has to offer for some period of time.
I had a long run by the ocean, passing by the Tower of Hercules (UNESCO world heritage), watching the waves breaking through the rocks, the boats floating in silence at the harbour and the mystery of the empty streets of the old centre, not long ago full of life.
Then, we had one of the nicest evenings, snacking on the beach with our smiles bathing in the sunset lights, feeling every touch of the wind, listening to every wave.
Sunday, 15th of March
Last night they announced the quarantine, and today the sky was grey — I couldn't even see a difference between it and the ocean. This was the first official quarantine day and also the day we accepted that we needed new plans, so we wanted to make the best out of it.
That is because Erasmus is also about adapting, cooperation and evolution in any possible way!
At the top of the list are the principles that guide us: reciprocal respect, help, support, and effective communication. We are lucky enough to have more people living with us, with a wonderful ocean view, but to maintain the harmony we need to follow these principles and look through the window often. And so that’s what we do!
We decided to use our individual time (because we respect the need for privacy) to keep in touch with our family and friends back home, to study, learn, grow, develop new skills, to take university-related as well as other types of online courses, to read books and to meditate, because we know we have to use this time in the most constructive and efficient way possible.
Together we study Spanish, do sports and yoga because we know how important it is to maintain our mental and physical health. We cook and have dinners together because we love to eat. We explore our multicultural origins and traditions and always find out new and interesting things. We also play games, watch many classical, good movies, have tapas, dance, listen to all kinds of music and admire the sunset, because we enjoy it.
As a new generation of an Erasmus family, we stay together, have an amazing time, a lot of fun and develop ourselves. Even if this is our particular story, we know that in this moment, it is the reality of most people.
We are thankful that we are all healthy and also, we respect the instructions of the universities, and of the official Public Health authorities!
Written by: Adelina Elena Buzdugan