Forced Holidays

When the unexpected can surprise you

Pandemic, «(of a disease) having spread among humans throughout an entire country or continent or the whole world».

In January the world started to talk about an unknown virus spreading in China; it was no fake news, but at that time for us living in China the tragic situation described by the news abroad was an exaggeration. All the expats’ groups on We Chat (a sort of Whatsapp) were touching this topic: people were wondering if temporary leaving China or not, but we still felt quite safe; as precaution we purchased masks but we thought that for those not living in Wuhan where it all started, the risk was very low; after a while we started hearing about new cases outside of Wuhan, after few days we were measuring the body temperature.

Later that month, Xi Jinping (President of the People’s Republic of China, for those who may not know) gave a speech in which admitted that the situation was worse than expected and also alarming due to the coming Spring Festival (note: it’s the Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in China. In this occasion, Chinese people have one week off at work and take advantage to travel back home or abroad. The holiday falls every year on a different date and this year the public holiday went from January 24th to the 31st).

The authorities were worried that the huge migration of the Spring Festival could spread the virus very fast and so it was: soon there were more and more cases in China but also in South-East Asia, South Korea, Japan…

Those expats’ groups on We Chat were constantly talking about the virus and many of us decided to leave China until the situation would get better. The Government imposed the closure of the offices until February the 3rd therefore I was forced home alone and my parents were very worried, so on January 28th I bought a ticket and the morning after I was flying home.

I stayed home for two weeks (the time of incubation of the virus) without going out and without meeting my grandmas because the risk of infection was higher for old people; I always wore the mask if my family was around and I used my own towels, cutlery and plates.

After 14 days I was finally free, thinking that the virus was far away and soon I could go back to China.

It did not happen.

Since a lot of Chinese people and foreigners from China were traveling around the world (who knows if they did the quarantine like me) some supposed cases appeared in US and Australia, then the virus arrived to Germany, later to the north of Italy, while China was getting better thanks to the drastic actions taken.

End of February my friends and I were thinking to go back even tough China imposed 14 days quarantine to everyone coming from abroad and forced quarantine in a structure chosen by the city government if coming from Italy, South Korea and Japan – after China, the most affected countries in the world – but my boss told me to wait and stay home until further notice.

Beginning of March Italy imposed the lockdown because we turned into the most affected country in the world. What I thought I avoided in China, chased after me in Italy… At least I was home with my family.

Middle of March, China closed the borders and suspended all the visas.

And I celebrated my 30th birthday (March 25th) during the lockdown: luckily I am not one who likes birthday parties but I do like cakes so I made myself a nice one.

Seen the situation, I did not know when I would go back and I was not working; I thought it was a sign (you should know that before Corona virus, I tried to resign because I wanted to leave China and move back to Europe but my boss made a really good proposal to let me stay so I did, then the pandemic put the whole world in pause).

These forced and unexpected holidays from my life made me eager to “re-design” it and do my best to make it as I wanted: I was not totally happy with my job, I wanted to travel more before settle down and chase the dream of my own “Dragonfly Inn” (if you read China & I you know what I am talking about)… so what did I do while waiting for China to open its borders again?

I applied to an online course to become a professional freelance translator and read a very stimulating book that I recommend if you are going through a similar phase: “Design your life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The two authors give some exercises to do which I didn’t, but they pushed me to write down the plan I already had in mind for my life – plan which is still “work in progress” at the time I am writing this post because unfortunately my life does not depend only on me, there’s a world out there! And sometimes you have to obey its orders like when it says: “there’s a global pandemic around… stop for a moment and reformulate your life!”

Well, maybe it was not the world telling it to me but fact is that during the lockdown I worked on this website together with my youngest brother Paolo while also studying one of Philip Kotler’s latest books, I started creating my freelance translation career and planned to live as nomad for one or two years.

Could I make it?!

To be totally fair, I tell you that we will find it out together during the progress of this blog if you want, because so far nothing is settled yet, the pandemic is still on at the time I am writing and I chose to go with the flow.

Do you go with me?

Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page…
I’ll read ya!

4 thoughts on “Forced Holidays

  1. Pingback: China & I

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