Life in times of an ensuing pandemic: an abrupt end to my Erasmus exchange

By Marcus Lagercrantz

A brief timeline of events transpiring as a result of the novel coronavirus to unravel uniquely chilling experiences as witnessed by an Erasmus student at NUI Galway:

It started as a normal day in School but ended drastically. When I travelled home in Corona times I felt the breeze of the apocalypse.

Thursday, 12 March:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all universities in the Republic of Ireland would close due to the coronavirus.

We – me and my classmates – heard the speech on live television in the classroom. I was shocked; ‘what did he just say?’

That Thursday has started as a completely normal day, with normal classes, and now all of sudden my whole Erasmus exchange programme had come to an end.

When I came home to my student accommodation, the same day, I witnessed yet another shock. All the students – my roommate, housemate and neighbours were packing their things. They were all heading home.

Friday, 13 March:

I, an exchange student from Sweden, was left all alone in student accommodation with no college to attend. Even the Kingfisher gym was closed, there was literally nothing to do.

So, I took a decision, it was time to fly back to Sweden. However, I was in a hurry. Country after country, borders were closing and airlines were going bankrupt.

Luckily, I got tickets for the coming Tuesday, but trust me – I was not happy about the situation.

Hundreds of Euro were lost on rent. There was no way to fix it. My rent for the year had already been paid, and the student accommodation refused to give anything back.

A weekend all alone in student accommodation…

Monday, 16 March:

I received an email that two of the three bus companies that are driving from Galway to Dublin stopped functioning.

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Only one company continued as normal. That was Bus Eireann. So, I took yet another decision – Dublin couldn’t wait.

Later that evening I stood at the bus station, with all my luggage, at Eyre Square in Galway waiting for the bus. When the bus came I felt the breeze of the apocalypse.

The first two rows of seats were covered in plastic and the chauffeur wore plastic gloves and so did many of the passengers. Plastic gloves and face masks were something I would get used to.

Tuesday, 17 March (the final journey to home):

I woke up in a hotel room in Dublin. The previous days had been so hysterical that I gave it to myself – bed and breakfast.

After my short hotel visit, I headed to the airport. At the airport, the coronavirus once again became visible. Masks, gloves, masks, and gloves.

I checked in my luggage, went through the passport control and to my gate.

Next to me sat a woman who was crying.  I asked her if she was okay and she explained that her father in Italy passed away recently. I didn’t ask from what, but I assumed it was the virus.

The plane was almost empty with hardly any passengers but rife with anxious feelings.

At the airport in Sweden my mother was waiting for me – she drove me home and home I came.

 

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