The following story was written by Revere High School graduate, Brendan Hayes, who is studying at UMASS Amherst.
From January to the middle of March, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain. During this time, I was able to enjoy learning about a different culture, working on my use of the Spanish language and visiting other countries on the weekends, amongst many other things. I loved the time I spent making new friends, including other abroad students and locals from Barcelona. I got the chance to see some amazing sites like the Picasso Museum and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Also, during my weekend trips I got to explore cities full of history like London and Florence, experiencing a snapshot of each country from Friday to Sunday. My time there was ultimately cut short due to the Coronavirus, but I am still grateful for the experience. My program was supposed to go to the end of April, but I had to return home halfway through March.
As the outbreak of the virus continued to ramp, up concern continued to build about whether or not we would be sent home. Many other students and I in my program did not wish to leave but seeing the amount of cases continuing to increase day by day was not something to ignore. Friends in Italy had been sent home already and once it got to the point where hundreds upon hundreds of new cases were appearing in Spain it became evident that the best option was to return home. Personally, I believe the decision for classes to be conducted online and the option for remote learning should have been made much earlier than it was. However, once given the option to return home and still be able to finish class work, I booked a flight, which definitely pleased my very concerned mother. To me, this outbreak was bound to happen especially given the lack of prevention. I could not believe that events such Abroad fest, a major three-day concert in Barcelona where study abroad students from all Europe gather, was not cancelled along with many other events. Whether it was denial or concern over creating a mass panic I do not think the proper measures were taken to prevent spread in Spain at an early enough point to actually be effective.
I arrived home March 12th, the same time President Trump announced that travel from Europe was set to be limited. To my surprise, I went through customs in just minutes without the mention of Coronavirus, something I definitely was confused by. Currently, I am doing schoolwork online and am almost done with a 14-day self-quarantine.