NU Declassified: The International Quarantine Life

Rayna Song, Reporter

RAYNA SONG: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Rayna Song. This is NU Declassified, a look into how Wildcats thrive and survive on Northwestern’s campus. In an email on March 11, the University announced a switch to remote classes and encouraged students to go home to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus. Even though most international students had the option to stay on campus, some decided to go home. And when they returned to their home countries, some of them went into quarantine for two weeks.

RAYNA SONG: When exchange student Lucia Rossignol went back home to France, no one at the airport told her to self-isolate, but Lucia decided to quarantine at home.

LUCIA ROSSIGNOL: I went back on the 14th. I was on the plane to go to London because there were no planes to go to Paris anymore. This is my decision not to do the groceries and not to go out and run. Since I had been on a campus, I was afraid to infect people.

RYANA SONG: While many people fear they would be infected at an airport or on the plane, Lucia found the atmosphere of the airport to be comforting.

LUCIA ROSSIGNOL: I was on campus on the weekend, you know, on the 14th. There was no one outside, and all the people I saw were basically my friends and my roommates. And when I went into the airport, there were so many people and I felt reassured — very reassuring to have that many people around.

RAYNA SONG: After her arrival in Europe, Lucia saw no one checking temperatures or screening people at the airport. She could simply walk into the country.

LUCIA ROSSIGNOL: When I arrived on the French soil, in the airport, basically, I just had to pick my luggage. There was no one in the airport. It just took 20 minutes. And my family, we try not to go out.

RAYNA SONG: But shortly after Lucia returned, France began to look much different.

CHRISTOPHE CASTANER: Les règles sont simples, mais la règle générale est plus simple encore: Restez chez vous. English Translation: The rules are simple, but the general rule is even simpler: Stay at home.

RAYNA SONG: That was the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner telling citizens to stay home during a press conference. The country went into lockdown on March 17, and since then, anyone on the streets must carry a signed statement explaining their reason for not being at home.

LUCIA ROSSIGNOL: So, you need to carry a paper with you that explains the reason of your going out of your house. And if you don’t have it, you get a fine. If you have the wrong reason, you get a fine, and it’s a pretty high fine. You are allowed to go out to buy food, to do physical exercise, or for medical reasons, or to help elderly people because they can’t go shop for themselves. If you really want to go out, you can go do your groceries four times per day, but I think that people are realizing more and more that they should stay at home.

RAYNA SONG: Meanwhile, some other countries have strict quarantine rules for international arrivals, including China. Despite this, some Chinese international students still decided to go home. One of them is McCormick freshman Banksy Yin. Before the coronavirus, there were direct flights between Chicago and Hong Kong, which is very close to his hometown of Shenzhen. But when Banksy was traveling, he had to take three planes and a detour. It took him more than two days to go home.

BANKSY YIN: I took my flight from Chicago to Taiwan and waited in Taiwan for 11 hours for my transit. And I took my transit flight from Taiwan to Shanghai, stayed in Shanghai for another 10 hours, and then took another flight from Shanghai to Shenzhen.

RAYNA SONG: Once he was back, he quarantined in a hotel room. Some locations, including Shenzhen, require travelers from heavily-affected countries to self-quarantine for two weeks.

BANKSY YIN: I am in self-isolation in a hotel room. Of course, I can talk to my parents — it’s just that I cannot see them. It is mandated by the government. Basically, during the 14-days isolation, I cannot step out of this hotel room. Only the people who’s going to take (my) temperature is going to see me, with all the masks.

RAYNA SONG: Some cities allow international arrivals to be quarantined at home. Other cities pick up all international arrivals and quarantine them in hotel rooms for two weeks, where they aren’t even allowed to step into the hallway or have any visitors.

BANKSY YIN: I can also do self-isolation in my home, but I have my grandparents and my little sister there, so it will be better if I self-isolate in a hotel room. I am allowed to do anything I want during quarantine — I just cannot go outside this door.

RAYNA SONG: Nevertheless, Banksy is glad that he is finally home.

BANKSY YIN: I felt so tired during the entire trip here. But I’m back here and back home. I can order takeout. I can order like Chinese food and stuff. Personally, I feel like it’s just so much better than if I stayed in Evanston, though.

RAYNA SONG: That’s all for this episode of NU Declassified. Thanks for listening!

RAYNA SONG: This episode was reported and produced by me, Rayna Song. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Molly Lubbers, the digital managing editors are Heena Srivastava and Kalen Luciano, and the editor in chief is Marissa Martinez.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Rayna52637952