How Internationals in Aarhus are coping with the Coronavirus lock down

By Snigdha Bansal, photos by Giuseppe Abrignani and European Union

As the world grapples with the COVID -19 pandemic, Denmark has found itself under a lock down for more than three weeks now. The measures taken by the government to curb the spread of the disease have also brought life to a standstill for many of us. Be it students or professionals, most people have found themselves restricted to the four walls of their homes, advised to step out only for essential tasks such as grocery shopping. If you’re an international locked down in another country, it can heighten the feeling of being “in-between”, never completely in one place. When you’re in a different country, life is made easier by days out spent with friends, cups of coffee, or sourcing your favourite food from specific stores. However, under a lock down, you must forgo those luxuries that make you feel closer to home. We asked some internationals in Aarhus how they’re coping with the lock down, what they miss about Aarhus pre-COVID, and what the days post the initial toilet paper-runs have looked like.

What is the situation like in your home country and how do you feel about it?

  • Allegra De Maria, undergraduate student, Marketing and Management Communication, Aarhus BSS: I come from Italy. It is one of the worst countries in the world right now when it comes to the pandemic, so it’s very bad, I’d say. My family has been in lockdown for almost a month, since two weeks before us. The numbers have recently been going down, and I hope that can continue so Italy can soon go back to normal life.
  • Pablo Astorga, works for Jack & Jones Retail: In my home country Spain, it’s a mess right now, and I feel really sad and worried about it. Around a thousand people are dying every day and it can be really tough to see the society completely destroyed in your home country. Being far away from home and observing the scenario makes me really, really sad. I can only hope that things get better soon, and that I can go back, hug my family, and spend some days with them.
  • Huiyu Huang, graduate student, Erasmus Mundus Journalism: I come from Taiwan, where the situation is under control. Most of our cases are travellers or students studying overseas who felt insecure and wanted to go back. For myself, I didn’t think travelling around this time would be safe. I also didn’t want to bother my family and mess up their daily routine. I would have to self-quarantine and they would be responsible for preparing my meals.  I would say that I’m really proud of the Taiwanese government. They have a lot of new measures; they’re even controlling the supply of the masks and rationing them out. You can only buy a certain number at a time. They’re also providing 30 surgical masks per month to Taiwanese living overseas. I actually read in the news that Taiwan was the first to inform the WHO about human-to-human transmission, but since we’re excluded from the WHO, they didn’t heed our warning.
  • Giuseppe Abrignani, software developer: I’m from Italy, and I’m actually really happy about the situation right now because we reacted really fast in my opinion. In one night, we put 13 towns under lockdown and also deployed the army. I’m really proud of the Italian government in this case, but at the same time I’m worried because this is not just a health crisis. In Italy, we were already going through a difficult period, and we’re now going to face a serious economic crisis and I really hope we can receive some aid from the European Union. I’d say being in lockdown here is better than being locked down in Italy though, since you cannot step out at all.

This video presents general views of Milan, Cremona, Bergamo, and Perugia in Italy, during the Coronavirus outbreak; empty parks and children playgrounds, desert subway stations and airport, queues at supermarkets and pharmacies, protective masks manufacturing, as well as hospital emergency services (video: European Union, 2020).

What was your reaction when the lockdown was announced in Denmark?

  • Allegra De Maria, undergraduate student, Marketing and Management Communication, Aarhus BSS: In a way, I was waiting for it, since in my home country Italy it had already started a week ago. I knew that other European countries would follow suit. In a situation like this, it’s better to take measures as soon as possible. So I was pretty happy with the wise choice made by the government.
  •  Pablo Astorga, works for Jack & Jones Retail: I thought to myself, “finally!” It came as a little bit of a relief because I had been following what was going on in the rest of the countries, so I was a little concerned that it could also spread to Denmark. But my second thought was about my job. I was concerned about what would happen and things like whether or not I had to go to the office.
  • Huiyu Huang, graduate student, Erasmus Mundus Journalism: In the beginning I thought it would be nice since I had already been following the number of cases since a week and the number was doubling every day, causing me to panic. So I was expecting the government to do something. My roommate and I freaked out a little since we saw people hoarding it on social media and we had only one roll left. But luckily, managed to find some.
  • Giuseppe Abrignani, software developer: I wasn’t surprised because I was already expecting it. I was actually happy that the Danish government took such a measure.
It has been difficult to find surgical masks in Aarhus, an essential resource in these times. Some have had them sent from their home countries (photo: Giuseppe Abrignani).

How has the lockdown directly affected your life?

  • Allegra De Maria, undergraduate student, Marketing and Management Communication, Aarhus BSS: I’m not going to school, I cannot take class. Everything has moved online, which is of course not the same as having a live interaction. I have exams coming up now, and I don’t feel as prepared because I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to my teachers face to face, or to work with classmates and help each other. I’m a very anxious person, and this situation has made it worse. Sometimes I’m more quiet, I have moments of feeling like the situation is very stressful and we don’t know when this will be over or when we will have the possibility to be outside again, and to live a normal life again.
  •  Pablo Astorga, works for Jack & Jones Retail: It has affected me quite a lot. I have been asked to stay at home until the 9th of June under the package that the Danish government has prepared for companies so they don’t have to fire people. This means that I won’t work until that date, but I will continue to receive my full salary.
  • Huiyu Huang, graduate student, Erasmus Mundus Journalism: I’m quite disappointed and upset about not being able to go to school, because I worked for three years before coming to this programme, and I’m spending my savings on it. This is not the kind of graduate life that I was expecting.
  • Giuseppe Abrignani, software developer: I’ve been stuck working at home, and it’s been really boring. I just want to go back to the office because I miss my work life. Otherwise, it hasn’t really affected me because even earlier, I had to go to another city to work, so it was already stressful.

For more information about COVID-19 please visit: https://coronadenmark.dk/ and https://politi.dk/en .

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