Yet Another Discussion On the Impacts of COVID-19

Jeanne Torp
March 17, 2020

I’m going to write about a topic that is not at all new right now and one that is honestly getting a little old: the coronavirus. I, for one, totally expect at least 4 new emails or news notifications regarding the newest border closure or social/travel restriction every day. I’m tired of hearing about it, but still feel the need to discuss it as it still seems completely extraordinary and impossible even after all this time.

The evolution of the coronavirus is something that I have been keeping up with since my second week in Paris, in the middle of January. From the first few news notifications I received talking about this mysterious virus that had suddenly and inexplicably appeared in China, I was researching and reading as much information was available. I was honestly already a little concerned about the virus at this point, as one of my best friends had just returned from a semester abroad in Beijing and I myself had been living in Shanghai over the summer. The fears of the virus having any serious impact on me or my friend at the time were unfounded, but this was completely unchartered territory - who knew what it could do or who could be infected?

This is what has been the most frustrating to me throughout this whole experience. No one knows. We have learned new things about this virus every day and every day a new location is hit by its impacts. Just when I thought France couldn’t be touched by this new menace, a mere two or three days after I had first started researching the virus, it appeared right outside my door in Paris. At that point, Europe seemed worlds away from China and the rest of the affected areas of Asia, but the world is always smaller than we think. 

The incredible accessibility of the world today makes this outbreak all the more interesting and all the more terrifying. We now have the ability to travel across the world and back so easily, a fact that is completely intertwined with recent events, as people thousands of miles away from the original epicenter of COVID-19 die and thousands of study abroad students like myself scramble to find last minute flights back home before they are trapped abroad. The accessibility of the word through virtual platforms provides an interesting spin to this crisis as well, as people all over the world, in affected and untouched places alike share advice, news, and even memes about the spread and evolution of the virus. 

Being in Paris and seeing the United States, my university, and my friends back home react to the virus, for example, was not easy. Coming from a place that has only barely been touched by the virus until very recently, seeing such extreme reactions and precautions starting to take place back home felt very strange. I understand that, ultimately, all measures and reactions are being taken in order to curb the spread of the virus before it has a chance to enter communities. However, seeing these measures while in a place like France, where normal life continued with only minor changes despite the ever-quickening virus having been present for weeks, seemed unreal. It was frustrating to continue to receive and see worried posts and emails concerning the virus though it had not even come close to touching my state yet while I was living in a place where the cases were increasing by the hundreds daily. 

It was strange to feel almost more entitled to feelings of worry regarding the virus and as if I was more knowledgeable about the issues at hand. Maybe those feelings are valid, maybe they’re not. As time passes, these feelings start to hold less and less significance as the virus continues to spread to those areas that I once again never thought would be touched and as the first few cases finally appeared in my home state.

With this being said, I’m sure I express the feelings of every study abroad student when I say that I can’t help but wonder if I’m really better off back home? If the virus will eventually reach everyone, which it seems like it will, are any of us truly better off for having our programs cut short, for being sent home early? The feelings associated with this outbreak are and will continue to be difficult to cope with as people around the world will continue to be impacted in dramatically different ways, some more devastating than others. The situation is unfair, and my feelings of simultaneous bitterness and numbness are feelings I’m sure will be sticking with me for a while. However, none of us are alone in our experiences and relations with this virus, meaning the only thing to be done is to try our best to connect to and be respectful of one another, placing health and recovery over all else and simply trying to move forward.

Jeanne Torp

<p>My name is Jeanne Torp. I'm a junior at the University of Mississippi majoring in International Studies and French and minoring in Environmental Studies! I will be studying abroad in Paris, France for the Spring 2020 semester, working to better my language skills and immerse myself in the French culture. After graduating, I hope to enter into the urban design or architecture fields, which I'm especially excited to be pursuing as new green and sustainable methods are being introduced to the field every day. Some of my hobbies include traveling, writing, photo- and video-taking, music, and reading.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
University of Mississippi
Biloxi, MS
French Language
International Studies
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