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I’ve been hearing a lot of “ciao” lately. But as “goodbye” rather than “hello” …
It has almost been seven months since I moved to Rome to continue my ongoing studies at La Sapienza University. I can assure you that the universe has not failed me again and proved to me that I have very little luck in life as I finally found a chance to study abroad all while simultaneously dealing with COVID-19. Thanks again universe for not surprising me at all.
For those who don’t know me yet, you should be informed about one thing; there is no better person than me to make things more dramatic in any and all matters. Even though what we are dealing with is not only my issue but a global one, I may still correlate these and apply them into my life because of my being a total teenage drama queen. That’s why I am concerned about the current state of affairs, and I will try to overcome my dramatic flair when I spend my days in my compulsory quarantine.
Since my childhood, I have always been a curious person and I have always asked many questions to my mom and dad until they were quite bored and dead on the inside. As I asked more questions, I developed a soft spot for having a better understanding of the world –at least this is what I think.
Living in Rome is the perfect example. Since the day I arrived, I have become more hyped than usual, and I find the answers to the questions that I have never thought of before. For instance, I have learned that the word quarantine comes from “quarantena” which means “forty days” and was used during the 14th and 15th centuries in the Venice region. It is said that all the ships suspected of the plague were required to anchor and be isolated for a duration of 40 days. And now, we all know what it means.
When the first COVID-19 cases appeared in Rome, I was in Turkey visiting my parents as I had a very short break. It was reported that two tourists who were visiting from China, were infected and they were immediately quarantined. I watched it in the news in Turkey and who would have known that Italy would have replaced China as the nation with the most COVID-19 cases? Well, I wouldn’t have and that’s the reason why I am currently in lockdown in Rome, Italy… If only we would have had a better sense and a vision to help us prevent all these things…
When I came back to Rome in the middle of February, there weren’t any cases at all, and life was just like I left it two weeks ago… We were still going to our faculty, having our lectures, visiting Palazzo Venezia, throwing our coins in Fontana di Trevi… Life outside was completely normal in Rome –for a time. And having successfully completed my exams in February, I was glad to be back in Rome and wanted to make some daily trips to Florence and Bologna. But these were the days when we started to hear about the cases in Lombardy and Veneto region.
Though there are many statements about how the virus spread that quickly around the regions, I personally think that one of the main reasons behind the increase in cases is that Italy is a hot spot for tourists. Especially during February, the major events of the county such as Milan Fashion Week and Carnival of Venice were held as usual and it, of course, had an impact on the current problems. Though the Italian Government has started to implement some regulations regarding what’s going on, fighting back this imperceptible virus was a tough mission. The people living in those regions were reported and informed to stay home and to have less contact with others.
On exactly 21st of February, I received a call from a friend of mine who is studying Clinical Psychology in Bergamo to let me know that her courses were suspended for at least two weeks and, soon after, another friend from Venice called me to tell me the same was happening Venice.
This was the first time that I have considered COVID-19 seriously and started to fear for my life. For almost two weeks, people in those regions were to be home and they were not supposed to leave unless absolutely necessary. In the meantime, the Italian government divided Italy into three parts; the red zone, the orange zone, and the yellow zone because of the dramatic spread of the virus. The red zone especially included northern region cities as Milan, Bergamo, Venice, Padua, Parma, Rimini, and others. The prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, announced that a new decree was planned so as to implement restrictions on the movement of people around the cities and the entire Lombardy region.
Contrary to what was happening in Northern Italy, we had very calm moments in Rome. Though people in the North were staying home, life in Rome was quite stable except having fewer tourists.
I was in my European Internal Market class once I learned that a student from Informatics Faculty could have been infected by the virus and the faculty and all subsequent activities were to be shut down immediately. The government, for the Northern part of Italy, has adopted many measures and provisions to prevent the spread of the virus by closing all schools, universities, museums, nightclubs, gyms, and the public areas where people would gather. All sporting events and any activities that would assemble a crowd were forbidden, as well. The supermarkets, bars, and restaurants would be only open during determined times, and there would be restrictions on traveling between cities. Those who violated the rules were supposed to be under arrest or pay a fine and those who had already traveled were advised to self-quarantine themselves.
On the 4th of March, we received an e-mail from the university that the classes were temporarily suspended for two weeks and after almost four days, after Lombary and Veneto region, the entirety of Italy was regarded as a Red Zone and the new decree would apply to the whole country.
We are all supposed to stay home…
Since the beginning of the March till the middle, the government has implemented more strict measures like; only the supermarkets, the pharmacies, and the post offices will remain open for a certain time, and to prevent crowds, people are to be at least one meter apart from one another. It’s my 21st day in lockdown and we are having our courses through online platforms… The life continues eventually…
Currently, we are told that the quarantine will end on the 3rd of April but the government still discusses extending the duration for another at least 15 days.
Even though Italy is the most affected country in Europe due to COVID-19, I do believe that these days will go away, and there will be a rainbow over Rome and Italy. We will go to Circo Massimo and enjoy our pasta each and every single day. And though there is a lot of “goodbye” lately, we should all remember that “ciao” is not just a “goodbye” but also a “hello” because Italians know better days and those days will be here again.
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