Living abroad during the COVID-19 outbreak

Authored by:
Clare T.

Clare T.

Well in general I am disappointed in myself with how little I have blogged while living abroad but this felt like a perfect time to come out of my writer's hiding. 

Living abroad during this world wide pandemic has been...confusing. To say the least. Most days I am not sure even how to feel. Things in Thailand are relatively calm right now. Sure we are aware of the issues and taking necessary precautions (like soap in bathrooms, yay!) but generally speaking things seem 'ok'. Our day to day life is seemingly unphased. I was still going to school and working, enjoying lunch at my favorite popup street tent, shopping at malls, drinking at bars. I was doing my best to follow online the news and updates of this horrific virus but also feeling quite comfortable in this bubble of a Thai life I had created here...until recently.

Now when I open my phone I am immediately filled with anxiety. My facebook and instagram accounts are flooded with stories and images of panic back home in the United States. I see stores closing, people fighting, and grocery stores empty. My own parents’ town is in complete lockdown. I even learned recently the district where I taught back in New Hampshire is closed for the next few weeks. It is a surreal feeling to watch all of this unfold from afar. I almost feel like a spectator at a Muay Thai fight  just watching my friends and families fight while I'm rooting for their health. I have said the whole time I have lived here I feel as though I am in my own Thai bubble, so separate from the rest of the world, and up until this point I had said that in a positive light. But now, I just feel so disconnected from reality, however negative that reality may be.

This next month and a half I will be left with a lot of hard decisions. Originally these tough decisions were supposed to consist of staying in Vietnam for 2 or 3 nights or splurging on the $15 hostel versus the $10 one. But now I’ll be deciding if I can even travel to some of these places at all, if I'll be able to get back home, if I should come home now or wait until the end of April like I had planned. I am watching many of my friends here rushing to get home while others are content in staying and ‘waiting out’ whatever this is. I am doing my best to research on my own to come up with a plan but right now the internet feels like a scary place. Googling, “Should I visit Indonesia” is like WebMDing what is wrong when you have a headache…. Only the worst case scenarios are provided just leading to more anxiety. My upcoming travel plans are now uncertain. My excitement to come home has been replaced by fear of what I am coming home to. I am excited to travel but nervous I won't be able to. I am eager to come home, but anxious to arrive. I am sad to say goodbye to the friends and family I have created here in Thailand but also more than ever missing my friends and family at home. 

Confused. That is the one word I can use to describe this mix of emotions I feel on a daily basis during this uncertain time. Stay safe everyone.


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