The Silver Lining in a Dull, Lifeless Time

Mary Zarba
April 24, 2020

I remember the first time the coronavirus was brought to my attention. I was sitting at the dinner table with my host family. It was around 8:30 and we had just finished dinner. We always had the TV on at dinner because my host mom liked to watch a show that I would call the Spanish version of jeopardy. It came on at nine every weeknight. Because we had a half-hour until the show, Montse put the news on. In an exaggeratedly animated tone, she began to exclaim something in Spanish while pointing at the TV. The only word I made out in her sentence was "virus". Virus has the same meaning in English and Spanish, but in Spanish, it's pronounced like "vee-roose". She went on to explain that the virus was currently only affecting people in China so I thought very little of it. I went out with my friends that night as usual. Little did I know that a few weeks later, I would be forbidden to go out or to even see my friends at all. 

My life began to change in a rapid domino effect. First, to my great misfortune, they closed all the most famous clubs in Barcelona, followed by restaurants, bars, and eventually all public places. A city that is normally crawling with people hanging out on the beach, meeting with friends and family in the squares, browsing the markets for delicious food, and touring Gaudi's architectural masterpieces, was now lifeless. I could hear a pin drop standing directly beneath the Arc de Triomf on my last day in Barcelona. My family insisted I come home immediately; they were worried for my health and safety. I landed in New York on March 15, forty-one days earlier than planned. 

I was numb to the devastation that was going on around me when I returned home. It all happened so suddenly and I needed time for reality to sink in. This process was sped up after getting my COVID-19 test results. I got tested solely out of curiosity. They were testing people in Jones Beach, about a 20-minute drive from my home, so I thought, why not! A week later, I met reality face to face when I received the phone call with my results. I had tested positive.

This news caught me completely off guard. At first, I was scared, but then I realized how grateful I should be for the good health that I was in. Luckily, I had very minimal symptoms and was able to recover quickly. After getting tested again 2 weeks later, I am now negative and have an appointment to donate plasma and antibodies next week. Although it is a small act, it will feel good nonetheless to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus. My heart goes out to all those affected by the virus who may not have been as lucky. I sincerely hope that everyone reading this is safe and healthy.

The photographs in this post are meant to capture a small piece of what my life looks like in quarantine. Most of the perspectives you are given are from the walls of my home on Long Island or outside in my vacant community from behind a mask. To highlight the silver lining in this devastating time, I have been able to indulge in myself and focus on my mental health more so than ever. Meditation, yoga, running, and reading have become a part of my daily routine. After traveling, sightseeing, meeting hundreds of new people, taking classes, and learning a new language like a maniac for 2 months straight, a little downtime with my family has been really nice.

Mary Zarba

<p>Hey there! My name is Mary Zarba, I am a junior in college, and I am studying abroad in Barcelona with IES Abroad in the Spring of 2020. I study environmental science at a school connected with Syracuse University called SUNY-ESF. Being from Long Island originally, I absolutely love adventuring outdoors especially if I'm near the ocean. I never forget to bring my camera on these adventures. I have a passion for capturing the moment through a lens and transforming ordinary photos and video clips into creative masterpieces.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry
Island Park, NY
Environmental Studies
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