Study Abroad During a Global Health Crisis by Elizabeth Edmunds

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Edmunds and I am a sophomore from Lynchburg, VA currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain with ISA at the Universidad de Sevilla. I am studying Elementary Education and Spanish, so I have always known I wanted to study abroad in Spain. Finding the city was more of a decision, but I also loved the idea of a medium sized city, so I found Seville. Once I figured out where, I had to pick what program. I chose my program based on the classes I needed, excursion included, and price. I am studying Spanish here, so I am taking five Spanish classes with the goal to improve my language as much as possible. I had been lucky enough to have visited Spain before I embarked on this journey, so I knew some things to expect, like how in Spain they eat their meals much later then I was used too.

When I left for the trip in January, I never thought this is how it would end: hastily through last minute flights booked days before and trying to flee the country before they closed their borders for good. Of course, I am angry, but the virus made the time I had that much more important. When I saw my friends in Italy go home, I was so thankful that I was still in Spain. The virus has impacted everyone’s lives but as I am sure the students in Italy can say, witnessing the country’s reaction was frankly a little scary and brought a seriousness to everything the news was saying. I saw my friends back home disregarding all of the warnings and yes it all seems ridiculous that something could be this grave, but that is mostly because most people my age have not lived through a global crisis like this. It is hard to take seriously because they have nothing to compare the situation too.

In Spain, I was checking the news constantly. Things were changing rapidly, and the number of cases was growing exponentially. All of the Spaniards I interacted with, also did not see the gravity of the situation, and then the government decided to take serious measures by declaring a state of alarm, which they have only ever done once. A state of alarm means the government can take away some of the rights of its citizens temporarily for the common good. They closed all schools and public gatherings, declaring that citizens were to stay in their houses unless they had to leave to get medicine or groceries. The next day, the president decided to close the borders. Spain already had over 7,000 cases at this point. The actions required were dramatic because the virus already had a strong foothold. In the ever-changing climate of Spain, as sad as I was to leave, this was not the Spain I wanted to witness.

Those of you who aren’t worrying about the virus, please just take the precautions asked of us so that we do not get to this dramatic of a point. Let us learn from this situation that life truly can change in an instant and use this virus to remind us of the little things we take for granted.

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