Bella Vita: Unecon students in Italy in the pandemic

Our students Maria Zhukova and Ekaterina Shevelina (School of Management) shared their experience of living in the eye of the storm while they are staying on exchange at UNINT University in Rome.

It was March, 5 when we got our lectures cancelled for the first time. It seemed to be a precaution as there had not been any COVID-19 case registered in Rome by that moment. People walked, went to work etc. Yet, March, 4 appeared to be last day we could enter the University; On March, 10 the official quarantine was announced. It would be extended twice later.

At the very beginning, we did not take it seriously, it seemed to be another Mass Media action, and it did not bother us. Then it got scary, and we started thinking of getting back to St. Petersburg. Now it is more or less fine, there is a feeling that it has always been like this.

The first question for us was how to deal with studies? After all, that was the main purpose of our trip. In the middle of March, we started studying remotely. We do not have any seminars, and lectures take place either in Zoom or in Microsoft Teams. Zoom has been used for Italian lessons (so that the lecturer can divide us into groups and work individually), Microsoft Teams if for regular lectures

The lectures took place according to the schedule we had received before. It was strange at the beginning to have online lectures, however, quite soon we got used to it. You can have your breakfast or listen to a lecture staying in bed. Nobody will notice if you don’t switch the camera on. The University administration kept on sending emails to calm us down and to warn that we had to stick to the rules of quarantine.

Our everyday life had changed dramatically. We first got terrified when saw a queue to a grocery store: people wearing masks and gloves (which were being distributed at the entrance), restricting linesPanic seized everyone. People would leave grocery stores with bags stuffed with products. It was possible to enter one by one. People were avoiding contact with each other everywhere anytime. There was nothing around: no people, no cars, no public transport. We spent home 24 hours, and would leave only to do shopping or to throw away rubbish. Having spent a month like this we got seriously scared and started thinking of getting back home. Although our parents and common sense made us stay here, as we could see that Russia was still at the beginning of it, and Italy started having a slight decrease.

We sometimes felt as getting mad. Everything was the same everyday: 4 walls and online lessons. We had read all the books we had. But 10 days later we got used to it either.

Now it seems it has always been like this. People around are not panicking anymore, and nobody shouts at us to get away for 2 meters in a grocery store. It seems that after the Easter life started getting its regular path: people go out with dogs and children, to do some sport or just for a 30-minute walk. We also go out when the weather is too good to stay home.

Quarantine officially lasts until May, 3. Starting from May, 4 shops, cafes, restaurants etc. Will get back to work. Surely with masks, gloves and queues, but will be working!

We are not sure quarantine is going to be over on May, 4, as numbers are still quite bad. Although, we are given a chance to dedicate our time to studies and things we would like to do. If you do not read the news, it seems even ok.

 

 

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