Nov 20th, 2020, 08:00 PM

A Tale of Two Confinements

By Thalia Weissman
Image Credit: Thalia Weissman
Going home for the second time.

March 13, 2020 was the last time we were allowed on campus for classes before the Fall 2020 semester started. It was chaos and panic; everyone suddenly had to be online, a pandemic hit us all hard and fast. Some stayed in Paris, but like many others I went home. Fast forward a few months, and again we have to be online, and again I have returned home. OH MY GOD NOT AGAIN! I don't know why I thought this wouldn't happen, COVID didn't stop infecting people, but my response is different. Everything has changed.

Image Credit: Thalia Weissman
 

So in the spring semester I was living in a Bluestripe studio. My boyfriend had just dumped me in a text and I was all alone. My parents told me to come home, and I wasn't sad to be leaving. The love of my life left me, I couldn't see my friends and all I wanted was a mom hug. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare to get home. Every single flight we booked kept getting canceled. I am from the suburbs of San Francisco, and SF decided to limit all international flights immediately. Even now there is no longer a direct route from Paris to San Francisco. My dad was up all night while I slept in until 11 the day I left because I didn't know I was leaving. He said I got you a flight to London get yourself a ticket on the train. I booked a train that left in two hours and packed just my clothes. I left all of my stuff behind. I thought COVID would go away quickly and I'd be able to come back in May to pack it all up. I was naïve about everything.

I got on the Eurostar with all I could manage to take and spent the night at an airport hotel. Unfortunately, there is more than one Hilton at Heathrow and I was dropped off in the wrong terminal. So a sketchy guy at the reception desk offered me a ride. I knew to say no but the reception lady said she knew him so I went with him. He works the power lines of the airport so he knows the layout well. I got into his white murder van and after a weird conversation about how I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend from Toronto he dropped me off and I never saw him again. I somehow managed to get on my flight and make it home. Once home, life felt better. I was with my family and I could finally grieve my breakup. All of my classes changed times so I didn't have to wake up at weird hours and I was able to finish the semester strong. I got into fitness and health. I got so in shape. Eventually I got my boyfriend back and we had so much fun. I had happiness and love in my life again, and overall I felt like a better version of myself. 

Image Credit: Thalia Weissman
 

I went back to Paris in August and had some fun. We started school and fun became less of a priority but I still had friends and there was more to do than in my little suburb. Then France got its second wave in full force and it was evident online university was coming back. This time I felt more hesitation to come home. My schedule wasn't compatible to the California time zone, I still had a friend I could see because she was my flatmate, and I felt like I could get through it this time. By the first weekend of confinement I was ready to leave. My anxiety was off the charts. I felt depressed and bored. I was feeling constant fear of going outside and wouldn't leave the apartment everyday. I stopped being able to focus. None of my work was getting done. Unlike the last time where I rushed out of Paris, I stayed a week and a half before returning. I wanted to get through midterms and come home during the break. I got through (barely) and headed home at four AM Paris time. I didn't go to bed until about 24 hours later so I wasn't doing well. I got home and instead of feeling relief I felt stress, anxiety and regret. I couldn't truly adjust over the break and now coming back I still do not feel 100% sure of my decisions. I am happy to be home and I know this was necessary. It is hard because I felt like I had created the perfect Parisian life. I had made new friends and was a better version of myself. Not just that but everyone in my family is having a hard time and I just feel like I add to the stress and anxiety here. 

What both of these experiences have in common was the feeling that my life is falling apart. In the spring I was able to fix everything and I just need to hope I can do it again. Starting over is hard to do, especially when there is only a month left of school. All we can do is buckle down, do our work, and rest. Coming home doesn't mean failing but rather resetting. I am 19, there is no need to go through the pandemic alone. None of us have to go through this alone. Right now I feel beaten down and broken by life, but despite all this I have hope I can do this. As much as it feels as though I am starting over my friend gave me good advice; he said, "...I don’t like to think of it as restarting myself; if I feel like I’ve done things the wrong way [it's not] because everything is bad, I’ve just made a few mistakes. The best way to move forward is to readjust and react, take note of what went wrong and what I can do going forward." So I will be taking his advice and spending my time at home changing what doesn't work and keeping what does. Coming home sometimes is just needed.