The coronavirus – it takes family members away from each other…in some places at least. In my case, it brought my family together. When the coronavirus outbreak happened, my family packed their bags and we decided to come to Egypt to spend this time amongst our family and friends.
I am an Egyptian living in Zurich, Switzerland. My main meal is lunch not dinner, and I eat it at 16:00. That’s not even the beginning of the differences I face. Getting homesick has become a normal feeling to me and my family, even though we visit Egypt in every vacation possible.
I had left a week before everything started closing down, and 13 days later, the rest of my family was on their way. The coronavirus didn’t just bring my parents and siblings together with me; it brought us all together with our cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This will probably be a dark period in history, the time a virus kept people at home and isolated them. This to me, is the time I got to go home, I got to feel home.
My cousins’ schools shut down and started online learning, with only two or three hours of school each day. The time we got to spend together didn’t have to be a rush. I think that by livingabroad, I forgot a lot of things that this outbreak has reminded me of. Shops hadn’t been closed off yet in Egypt, just schools and a few sport clubs.
The feeling I had going to a shop and buying even the simplest thing made me feel better, healthier, like nothing could take away my happiness, not even the coronavirus. Now, I’m speaking my mother tongue, walking amongst other Egyptians, and of course constantly debating with family members about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Is it that serious? Was the virus created in a science lab to scare people? Could this all be political? Or are scientists just as surprised as us?
To some extent, precautions were being taken. There was no having the classic meaning of fun by being out. If I ever left the house, it was either to go to another family member’s house, or run important errands. Whenever I return home, I would wash my hands, and then of course, the obvious, no shaking hands, no hugging. Instead, I’d greet my family members by bumping my elbow against theirs.
I got a chance to look at things from afar. I realised how sucked in I was living in Switzerland, caring about the wrong things, and not giving the right things their importance. I used to write very often, and I really enjoyed it, though living in Zurich, I slowly stopped that.
I was so focused on fitting in. I focused too much on what people wanted rather than what I wanted. I came back to Egypt and slowly began writing again, writing about anything, beauty, parenting, and anything that came to mind, and I told myself I’d write for an hour everyday. So as everyone crept under their blankets, I’d sit and write. I slowly started to regain myself, what I wanted and why. I started understanding myself, I started becoming happier.
So what was the coronavirus to me? It was a time that I took a step back from my life and re-evaluated everything, a time I realised who really matters in my life, a time I realised what I should be focusing on, a time I realised who I am. The coronavirus was a nightmare to many people, but to me it was a dream.
Lina Mohamed: Egyptian high school student living in Switzerland