ALL STUDENTS ABROAD MUST RETURN HOME, IMMEDIATELY.
On March 11, I went to bed in Amman, Jordan, mourning the loss of my travels for spring break but excited to explore more of the country in the coming week. I woke up March 12 to several messages from friends back home expressing their sympathy for me having to return home. Confused, and with a growing feeling of dread, I checked my email and saw it; the brief email, addressed to my whole university, announcing all students abroad must return home, immediately.
Jordan had implemented early lockdowns and travel restrictions, and at the time there had only been a single case of COVID-19, with the patient since recovered and while I worried for friends and family back home, I felt safe through their early actions.
My friends and I were all outraged at being forced to travel home, to a country that had more cases and fewer regulations, let alone traveling through areas that were surely exposed. In my study abroad bubble, I had already begun to realize the failures of my government back home in containing the spread of the virus, but it was just the beginning.
Two days later, as we boarded the plane for our 13.5-hour flight to Chicago, the immensity of my loss hit. We were losing more than 7 more weeks; we lost the opportunity for language acquisition and cultural immersion. While we have incredibly amazing professors, the loss of the language pledge and daily experience stunted our growth considerably.
Back in New Hampshire, I watched from my post-travel quarantine many Granite Staters and others across the country ignore the stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines. It felt like a personal affront, my loss of an opportunity of a lifetime in vain.
It was a mockery of the monumental dedication and efforts of the essential workers risking their lives. I felt disappointed and defeated by the failures at the federal and state level of government to address this crisis in a competent and effective manner.
The immensity of the loss of expectation is a burden we all share. I understand this, but by sharing it, it is that much more bearable. This is an unprecedented crisis, and it will only be mitigated by matched effort that requires action by everyone.
WRITTEN BY REBECCA KATZ