“I miss going outside and not be scared.” Says Alex Ivan, a young man from Suceava, whose family has been living in Italy for more than 10 years.

We all know about the new coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). How could we not? It affects each and every one of us. If not personally, then through the fact that you are reading this at your home, right now, while in self-isolation. Or at least you should be because you are not allowed to go to work, take a walk in the park, meet with friends or even go to the store. Not without a signed paper, or without getting the attention of the authorities, that are now everywhere.  

One of the most affected countries in Europa is Italy. The number of daily new cases is going down at this point, as the virus reached its peak on the 21st of March, when the frightening number of 6.557 cases a day was confirmed.

Google COVID-19 statistics show the peak of new cases confirmed (6.557) on 21Mar

Alex’s family lives in Italy for more than 10 years. His father was the first one who left Romania, then his mother and younger brother, in 2016. They live now in Piemonte Cità di Alba, a small region, surrounded by the pandemic. As all the regions around have a really high number of cases. Their region, being small, was almost entirely avoided by the harshness of the virus.

Loredana Ivan (the mother), said that they are all good, but tired of staying inside for such a long time.

As well as it happened in other countries, in Italy people were at first a little indifferent, even if they understood that the virus really affects the older citizens. “From the beginning, I understood that it is a virus that seriously affects older people. But I was indifferent. Then when things started to get worse I can personally say that I was scared, I became paranoid and very worried about my loved ones.”, says Loredana.

Also, one of the most important challenges in a pandemic is handling the children at home because for them it may be hard to understand what is happening and why do they have to adapt their life behind the walls. From this point of view, Loredana says that her youngest child is really affected by this situation. “He initially refused to accept that what was happening was real. As for the staying inside, with the help of the Internet, he manages to fill his time.”, she added.

A part of the grocery supplies they made for the self-isolation

When asked how she thinks Italy is handling the situation, she replied decisive and firm “I feel safer here, in Italy.” She continued by saying that the situation clearly got out of their hands, but if she were to compare the Italians’ way of managing this crisis, with that of the Romanians’, there is a huge difference. Italy feels safer for her.

Regarding the proper care that authorities should provide to the citizens, she stated that they did not receive any, not because they did not offer it to her family, but because they don’t need it: “I asked for the teachers’ support for Vlăduț’s (their child) homework and I can say that they are very receptive to the needs of the children.”

“A global crisis was needed to start talking with relatives and friends in Romania more often”, says Loredana, when asked about the current relationship with her loved ones from her home country. “Yes, this virus, with all the misfortune that came with it, I think it managed to bring us a lot closer to each other.”, she continued.

When answering questions related to her family, her emotion and her love were very obvious, that’s why, when asked what she misses the most from her life before the pandemic, the answer was sincere, simple and honest: “I miss my family.  I never thought I’d say this, but I want to go back to work. Now I realize how wonderful our simple existence is.”

Besides her care for the loved ones, there is no moment when she can forget about the virus. As in every other Italian house, no matter how hard they try not to think of it, every time they open the TV or listen to the radio, the main topic is the outbreak. But the family manages to make the time pass faster, by doing homework with Vlad, cleaning the house or cooking together.

Alex, their oldest son, who stayed in Romania to finish his studies, confessed that he was not scared, neither worried when he found out about the outbreak in Italy: “I know they would’ve taken care of themselves.” He also said that, even if the situation brought them closer, they don’t talk more than they used to: “We always talked a lot. They are not in a situation I should be scared about. The relationship between us has remained normal.”

When asked about the changes this self-isolation has brought to his way of life, he said that this is nothing new, as he didn’t go out that often. But his answer took a turn after a few seconds when he continued: “With college, however, things changed: classes, roommates, I was going out more often. From that point of view, it’s a huge difference. Plus the masks and the huge amount of care I take right now. Maybe sometimes I’m afraid to go out. It’s not something I’ve ever felt before.”

Alex always had a passion for drawing, but never got the chance to explore it more, as school represents a huge part of his life. Therefore, he described this spare time brought by the self-isolation as a good thing about the outbreak: “I have more time to do what I like now. From my point of view, this is better than before.” He also continued with other possible aspects: “Also, the fact that people get to spend more time with their families and that the pollution in places like Milan or Beijing is almost inexistent. Maybe we can take this as a slap in the face: not to take things for granted. And maybe be better prepared in the future. If nothing would have happened, no one would have cared.”

Also, in contradiction to his mother’s opinion regarding how Romania is handling the situation, he declared himself surprised: “It seems that the government was more prepared than I actually expected. Even if the hospitals are not doing that good, we got a fast, efficient response from them. It could be better, but I feel safe.”

What does Alex miss the most from his life before the virus?“I miss hanging out with my girlfriend and my friends. I miss having long walks outside and spending time in nature. And the most, I miss going outside and not be scared.

Even though at first the virus crisis in Italy seemed one with a disastrous ending, things started to return to normal. Slowly, after the endless struggles of doctors, patients, policemen who were sent in the streets, and people safely hidden in their homes, we can say they’ll be fine. They can start breathing slowly, relieved. There is a long way to go before things get back to normal, but it is on the right track.

One of the positive parts of the pandemic is that people seem to change their priorities and to value more the family and the concept of solidarity. As Loredana said, from the heart of Italy:

 “Even if we’re far away from each other, we have to be with our loved ones. Only TOGETHER we will be able to overcome these difficult moments.”

“Everything will be alright.”
FRANCO ORIGLIA/GETTY IMAGES

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