I was the last one of my group to join the project, in June 2019. Urgent call for application, they said on the website. In 10 days, I submitted my application, skype called my future coordinator and packed for Hungary. All of this, with my parents and friends knowing close to nothing about my plans. Came here, made friends, learnt a job, build a new and meaningful life. My friends left at the end of January, new volunteers came, and I was as excited as they were. Couldn't wait for a new chapter of this experience to begin.
And then, the Corona Virus happened. Right when I was in Germany, my very first solo trip. I collected all my free days and started my journey. Unfortunately, the same day I was supposed to come back from Berlin, the office called: better for me to stay home for the rest of the week. Hungary hadn't experienced any case of the Virus, yet, but Germany had, so better safe than sorry. The following week, my new colleagues were also asked to stay home. Again, better safe than sorry. Everyone decided to stay here, no one asked to be sent home. Little did we know, that Schengen was about to be thrown out of the window. Italy, my country, is on lock down. Sardinia, the island I was born and raised into, is on double lock down.
9 souls, a foreign country. Better make the best out of it. So, italian dinner first. All in all, we still have to prove prejudices to be true, right? Home-made gnocchi and pizza, some tomato sauce, the evergreen tiramisù and good wine. Zucchini and shrimps pasta, amatriciana (couldn't find guanciale here, sorry SPQR people). To make it all funnier, some magic tricks, italian quiz shows on TV, russian apple-pie and hungarian craft beer. And walks in the parks, trying to fight the fierce and slightly cold wind. Some of us played with ducks, while discussing the pros and cons of duck-feeding with hungarian babushkas. Some more pizza in an Italian pizzeria near the lake. Gossip, oh yes, a lot of gossip. Oh, by the way, in which year was this song released? Have you seen this movie? Lets watch it together! What country haven't you been to yet, but you dream of visiting? Do you know that The Lord of the Rings is a great way to describe the current political situation? Little time to get bored, or feel sad.
I am glad I am not alone these days. The situation in Italy is not looking great, news are even worse. These guys are the ones that are keeping my spirits up, making me laugh with stupid jokes and stories, visiting me in my flat. Mi casa es su casa, ESC style. I don't know them well, they do not know me well, but these past few weeks helped us build a connection stronger than anything I could have ever imagined. We might not see eachother everyday, but that group chat doesn't know no rest.
Wherever you are, abroad, in your home country, quarantined in a remote village in Sardinia, remember: you are not alone. When you feel like loosing hope, or sad, or just a little bit blue, pick up your phone, look for a stupid meme and send it on that group chat you have with your mates. Call your granma, tell her that yes, you are eating. And no, you are not even a little bit sciupato. Read that dusty book you bought years ago but hadn't had the time to open. Learn chinese, or esperanto. Time to clean up the closet, you last wore that jumper in 8th grade.
Tutto andrà bene.
Everything is going to be alright.
Todo va a salir bien.
Minden jo lesz.