When you decide to do a work experience abroad you have to be ready to face uncomfortable situations that may arise and, in a historical period like the one we are living, the most likely scenario is to find yourself positive at Covid and far from home!
We left for Malta in May 2021 and had chosen this island because the Covid situation at that time was very quiet and easy to control given the number of inhabitants. However, we knew that the virus was still lurking and that we would risk testing positive, in the same way as if we had stayed in Italy or when we were in England.
In the end, in July 2021 the positive cases in Malta went up significantly and although we always tried to be careful, one of us tested positive!
Do you know what the worst part was? That only one of the two was positive! Guess who?
The answer is…
Let us know if you guessed right, in the meantime she will tell you how it was.
I want to start by opening a parenthesis: at that moment unfortunately I also heard that having taken the covid was a “natural consequence” of having gone abroad during the pandemic, as if staying in Italy I could not have taken it the same; but despite the covid, life for me was not over, indeed, it was just beginning!
Even if it’s true that at least I was abroad, I won’t hide the fact that it wasn’t easy.
In fact, one of the things I can’t stand most when I travel is treating myself in a place I don’t know. I’m honest, it’s something I don’t like, but still, it’s part of the game. So, when I found out I was positive, I was immediately anxious because I didn’t know what I would have to do to get treatment in the foreign country that was hosting me, with different rules and procedures than I was used to in Italy.
Luckily, Jacopo never tested positive (better, so he cooked and fixed it!) and I found myself locked in my room in quarantine alone. As the days went by, I discovered, clearly, how it all worked: the Maltese health service practically ‘submerged’ me in calls to find out all my movements, where I worked, what people I had come into contact with etc..
So, the first few days I was reassured thinking that I wouldn’t have to do anything except wait for their calls.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, things are never that easy.
For example, I was able to talk to a doctor about some pains I was having, despite not knowing if I should seek out a primary care physician myself or call the hospital, simply by calling the dedicated lines for assistance with quarantined positives. Of course, all of this was in English, which for me was not a problem, but for others could prove to be an obstacle (so be sure to learn English!).
On the other hand, however, keeping track of the whole situation and obtaining the necessary documents for our work was not as easy and cost us quite a bit of effort and patience (which we didn’t think we had).
Eventually though, the agitation of the first few days when I didn’t know what to do started to disappear and all I did was sit in my room watching TV series and eating things I couldn’t taste!
And this is where we touch on another key.
Being quarantined, being sick and having a fever not only in a country that “isn’t yours” but also in a room “that doesn’t feel like yours” for 14 days was a strange feeling for me. On one hand I was happy to have taken the Covid away from my family, so I wouldn’t have infected any of them, on the other hand the comfort of my home I was sure would have been good for me.
In my room in Malta I have nothing but pc and clothes, so no distractions that I had in my room at home in Italy that could help me occupy more time.
Despite that, I had Jacopo always cooking and taking care of me, always making me orange juice in the morning and porridge. Between you and me, I think I only liked his version because I didn’t have the flavors anymore!
To make a long story short, taking the Covid in a foreign country didn’t change my mind about what I think about traveling, it didn’t scare me, I don’t see it as a punishment, but as something that happens to those who choose to really live life and not stay at home for “the fear of”.
So, as I always say, for me it’s important to have stories to tell and to say that I know a place in its beautiful and less beautiful sides, aspects that work others that instead drive you crazy for how poorly organized they are, but that’s okay.
Traveling is like that and I don’t want to give it up.
If you find yourself abroad in an uncomfortable situation, whatever it may be, and you don’t know how to get out of it, don’t be ashamed to ask questions to as many people as possible asking for information. Always remember those Facebook groups of the Italian community, sometimes unreliable information is shared, but other times they are good channels of information.
PS. Leave anxiety and shame alone, those have never helped anyone.
Going abroad teaches you to cope on your own, after all you don’t have a mother to ask for advice or to ask to speak to the doctor on your behalf; you can only rely on your own strengths and this inevitably makes you grow.