If you are reading this, then I suppose you are finding yourself in a quite similar situation as me: studying in a different EU Country and, on top of that, living the consequences of the spread of the new COVID-19 virus. So, if you are interested about my experiences so far as a Romanian 20-year-old student living in Vienna, then keep on reading.
When I moved almost two years ago in Austria to start my bachelor’s in political sciences, I was terrified about the learning process, but mostly about starting my life from zero. I did not know where to start: I just rented an apartment, I had to register myself for health insurance, I had to open up a bank account. I was feeling lost, but I had the luck to get help from some acquaintances from the Romanian Community in Vienna. But, looking back to these small steps from the beginning of my journey, I know there were much more important things coming for me. I overcome them and then I got to live the best time of my life, meeting new people, making life-long memories.
The COVID-19 has affected all of us, the entire population of the planet. It might look really scary at the first glance, especially that it is something most of us have never experienced yet. I like to jokingly compare it to me moving in a foreign country. Why? Because I see it as a new beginning. I see it as any new situation that is unusual to us: it scares us, it might even make us anxious, but we have to find solutions and adapt to it, just so it doesn’t affect our lives as much as at the beginning. But with this comes another question. How exactly do we get from fear to habit?
As a political studies’ student, I might try to give out a theoretical explanation based on multiple expectations and references to studies during the years. But as a simple EU citizen, I can only give you a friendly advice: trust your institutions. Whatever your beliefs are about politicians, whatever you have already experienced with the political institutions before, now it is important more than ever to give them some credit and put your faith in it. It is a new experience for them as well, we are all people in essence, but they are responsible not only for their own safety and health, but also for yours.
Okay, you might say, this sounds easy, but how am I expected to do it? It is hard to find information about what should be done and little reassurance from the officials. Yes and no. I have already said this, it is times of great uncertainty we are living now, but we are all living the same times, experiencing every emotion all of us together and I think this should bring us closer than ever. We have to be more open minded, kinder, more inclusive, more helpful and moreover, smarter. Information is the key word that has been around us in the past months, and it is here to stay. You, as an EU citizen, wherever you find yourself at the moment, just inform yourself using all platforms you have to your disposal and act accordingly. This way, you don’t just take care of yourself, but take care of others too and return their favour they already did for you.
I decided to stay in Vienna during this Pandemic. I decided to stay over 1000km away from my family. I decided to spend Easter alone, away from those I love. I decided to stay healthy for me and for others. I decided all these things because I decided to inform myself beforehand. The institutions might not be as engaged as you might expect them to be, but one thing is for sue: they will always provide you all the information you need and be there to help you in case you have misunderstandings or just feel insecure about a topic. If you feel unsure and don’t know where to look or what to begin with, there are plenty of organisations that are more than happy to ask your questions.
EMY was my go-to place during this quarantine as they updated regularly their social platforms and post the most recent information relevant for EU citizens. I think keeping an eye on how the situation evolves and how people react to it, gives you somewhat a feeling of security, just like a safety net. I was also checking up the official Austrian Health Ministry’s website daily and watched the graph going up and down, looking just like a wave. As the numbers started to lower and the overall number of infected people started to decrease, I was thrilled. I was thrilled because I knew that I definitely had a small but of high importance role in that decrease.
This outbreak affected all of us, but everyone talks about how it affected economy. But what is economy if not an abstract term for all the human interactions? At its core, economy is based on people and their social life. It is what keeps economy going. So it affected everyone, harder than ever. But I believe it will get better. The society always recovered from big catastrophes. So this is why I have faith, faith in us all, that we will continue working as a one and make it through it. No, not only making through it, but also learning from it and building a new, better society for the years coming.