Journal by M #3 : Life in a Pandemic

March 28, 2020
Maria Tong uni room

You all have seen the news : hundreds of thousands of people around the world infected with a new corona virus, lockdowns are in order, borders are closing, hospitals are getting overwhelmed, #socialdistancing is the word of the moment, everything deemed non-essential is shut down, school and universities are going online, offices are empty, the economy is suffering, and toilet papers are nowhere to be found.

The world -and life, as we know it is in limbo. Nobody is sure of what's going to happen, anxiety is running high, and millions of people are stuck at home. The world is a scary place to be in right now. There's no safe haven. Everyday you see the numbers of cases climbing up higher, but the best you've been told to do to help is to stay at home. However, there are those who are risking their lives by fighting in the front lines; the staffs in the hospital, emergency services, supermarkets, and other essential goods' store, but also those working in the background; the staff in the health department, 112/116117 call centers, and the governments. To them, I can only send gratitudes and prayers.

Living in Germany, where the number of cases is the fifth-highest in the world, may sound scary. But somehow, I have to recognise the privileged position I am in despite the disappearance of normality, because it hasn't hit me as hard as it had hit others.

Although universities in Germany are closing at least until April 20, we were still in our spring break when the news came, so it only feels like an extended vacation to me, especially because unlike many students, I currently have no outstanding exams that are cancelled due to the shutdown.

In addition, I'm a bit of a recluse who rarely leaves home other than to shop for groceries, doctor appointments, and to go to work/uni, so really, staying at home isn't really a big change for me personally. In saying that, my part-time job is in a bakery, which although aren't closed because it sells essential good i.e. bread (yes, in Germany this is essential, though I'm sure back at home in Indonesia nobody will think so), there's just a lot less foot traffic due to self-isolations and the general #stayathome spirit, so I'm basically rendered obsolete. I'm fortunate that my living is still supported by my parents, so a few weeks of no income wouldn't mean that I won't be able to pay my bills, but this isn't true for many of my colleagues.

The German government has not implemented a lockdown yet, instead, we have the so-called contact ban, barring the interaction of more than 2 people at a time excepting families and those who live in the same house/apartment. This means that people are still allowed to go outside, but they still have to maintain a safe distance to strangers, which does make life seems normal, if you don't pay attention to the closed shops.

So what do I really want to say with this post? Maybe nothing you don't already know, or nothing you find particularly interesting or extreme enough, but I find it helpful for my own mental space not to feel completely alone at this time. The time is tough, and it probably will be tougher in the coming months. But I'm optimistic that it will end, and we will carve out a new normal for ourselves.
Lastly, I hope that you and your families will all stay healthy and safe.


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