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How Expats Experienced the Corona Crisis

Fighting Loneliness in Times of Corona

Originally from the United Kingdom, Mark had planned to move to New Orleans (USA) permanently with his US American wife. To do this, he needed to sort some things out in the UK first, such as getting his visa approved, preparing his house for new tenants, and getting his belongings shipped.

Unfortunately, this was when the coronavirus pandemic reached the UK and suddenly all of his plans came to a halt. Because tenants were moving into his house, Mark had to manage with the bare minimum in a bed-and-breakfast until at least July — when flights would be available again. The months that followed were especially challenging for Mark, as he had to face being away from his wife for a very long time. However, he soon met many others that were in similar situations and took away a good life lesson: “Every storm will pass, so just look for the positives of the situation, be patient, and give back to others.

Mark also quickly learned that even though some of us feel lonely, no one is ever alone, and you will always be able to find people who support you. He found help for some of his struggles online, a common resource now that seeing each other in person is still, in one way or another, tricky. “All the advice is in the community,” he then emphasizes. ”Seek help! Everyone has been through this this at some point and can give advice.”

On the other hand, Lidia — originally from Italy — moved to Austria for her career. The city has become her new home now: ‘’I have lived in Austria long enough to feel more at home here than in my original country.” However, the recent pandemic has naturally brought ups and downs, and moments when Lidia felt lonely while social distancing.

Although Lidia spent her social distancing experience on her own, she was always in touch with her family through frequent videocalls. “We had lunch together as a family. Then we were talking like we used to do when we met. So, it was very close to reality,” she shares. Lidia cherished these moments because she couldn’t visit her family in person for months on end.  

She also kept in touch with her friends, who unexpectedly prepared some surprises for her birthday. Just when Lidia was convinced that she would celebrate it alone at home, she heard the doorbell and saw her friend standing at the door — wearing a mask and keeping her distance — with a present, wishing Lidia a happy birthday. Other friends also sent her presents such as chocolate and flowers.

Lucky Expats Who Were Already Used to Working from Home

For Lisa, a US American expat living near Porto, a usual day during the lockdown wasn’t so different from before it was imposed. As she was already used to working from home, these new circumstances didn’t cause any challenges to her daily routine as an English teacher and writer. Quite the opposite, she made the best out of the situation by signing up for several online courses with her partner, which proved to be a fantastic experience for both of them.

Also from the United States, Elizabeth is a therapist currently living in Sydney. Social distancing hasn’t had a negative impact on her career as she switched to working from home easily after her move to Australia. She even kept some clients had worked with in San Francisco, so several of her sessions in her new home had already been online. Both the newer clients from Sydney and the ones from San Francisco wished to keep having their sessions through videocalls, which made it easy for her to manage her workload.

As a therapist, Elizabeth is aware of the worry some people are experiencing during the pandemic. While moving abroad and having children are common concerns, she also sees the situation  being a positive change of pace for some others — granting much needed space for personal growth and connection.

Impatiently Waiting for Borders to Reopen

Janie, an avid traveler from Russia, currently lives in Adelaide (Australia). Having already visited over 230 countries and territories, she still has plans to visit even more. There are ten destinations left on her bucket list which she planned to visit before the pandemic. Now she is focusing on writing a book about her journeys: Around the World in 99 Disasters, and — of course — waiting for borders to open again, so she can visit destinations such as North Korea, Bhutan, Libya, and even Equatorial Guinea.

Similarly, Mark has eagerly been waiting for borders to reopen. Even though ticket prices have gone up, his plans to reunite with his wife are still in place. He plans to hop on a plane to the United States soon, if everything goes as planned. “It has been two and a half years of misery waiting, and finally it is going to happen,” Mark says.  

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