Flo

Coronavirus. Making the most of the quarantine.

Coronavirus – Lockdown time = detox time

My friend Flo from Chicago has kindly shared with me one of her strategy to cope with the quarantine, and to make the most of this time to start a device and media detox…

When Covid-19 spread was declared as a pandemy by WHO 3 weeks ago, I was still in denial. It took time to sink in. And then it did. For 2 weeks, I called and reached out to all my friends, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, emails, LinkedIn, you name it : I used all the communication tools available to stay connected. I had videocalls with my brothers on WhatsApp and FB Messenger ; BlueJeans video calls with my friends back in the UAE, the only free app still operating under the radar there, and Bottim video calls with others, the official provider from the government. I had Zoom and Google Meets videomeetings with the teachers of my kids. I had Skype video calls with their French teacher. I had Totok videocalls with my colleagues & clients. I downloaded HouseParty to have a drink with my besties last Sunday. I followed the links to the online drawing course and placed the kids in front of the screen, feeling good about it: they learn and are quiet at the same time, yeay. I filmed myself to send videos to friends back in France. I watched all the memes, all the funny videos, that I shared with other groups. I did a yoga class via an online course. I was everywhere, connected all the time, afraid to miss out on any opportunity to see all of the people I love, anxious to do it right so that the kids don’t miss their teachers and fellow students. I was in a digital bubble.

After 2 weeks of over-digital connection with everyone, I felt over-whelmed by calls, social media, news, video chats, memes, gifs, and so on. So much time spent in front of my screens. I went into digital detox last week-end  initially for 2 days. It’s been 6 days now and I feel so much better, more focused on my kids to spend quality time with them, drawing, painting, sitting at their desk and talking to them.

I didn’t do that much change for my detox, but I removed Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram from my phone. Now I know that I was really addicted to them, connecting tens of times per day to refresh my feed, chatting with influencers, friends, sharing stories.

I have also decided not to join each and every single one of my kids’ teachers’ meetings. If they miss out on a few homework, they will survive. We do plenty of other stuff.

This is a learning experience and I feel I am cheating. I never really left the social media anyway, not really : I kept WhatsApp, how could I live without? I still read my emails, I still read my 5 or 6 newspapers daily. I still chat everyday with my friends, with my mum, my cousins, my bros. I still send text messages to my friends here in the US.

But I enjoy the mini-break. I breathe. I rediscover how to be bored, how to just do nothing and not to browse automatically at a newsfeed just because I have a bit of free time. I want to push myself more though. I have downloaded 4 or 5 newspapers apps since Covid-19 entered our lives because I wanted to know everything about it, both in Europe and in the US. I could probably remove a few. And do I really need to play 4 Scrabble matches at once on WordFeud?

My next challenge is to spend 1 entire day without looking at my phone. Not to read my WhatsApp messages as soon as I wake up sounds surreal to me, because yes, until now, this is still what I do. That will be a tough one.

No phone at all? I think I can do this. You in with me?

#challengeonedaywithoutmyphone

Copyright © 2020 by Nadege Bourdin Fayard

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

expatressources@gmail.com

Nadege09_SM

Cooking, cooking, cooking, till Coronavirus do us apart…

Almost the end of the 3rd week in our quarantine and I feel like throwing away my aprons as I am so tired of cooking! And the lockdown isn’t about to stop…
Me, the girl who has launched World Famous in my Kitchen, who doesn’t stop telling her friends how rewarding cooking is, how awesome homemade meals are for their families. Why is this happening to me? It’s the Coronavirus! No, I am not sick, I am just overwhelmed with cooking.

In just a few days after we started the lockdown, an explosion of posts on WhatsApp regarding cooking, ingredients hunting, grocery shopping took over social media…closely followed by Coronavirus’ information, updates and articles.
And then on Facebook, advertisings for slimming down, getting fit, getting the body of your dreams didn’t stop showing up, crazy pop-ups that won’t leave me alone!! In quarantine, really people, do you strongly believe that I am going to turn my body into this?

A portrait of a fit woman in black and white in Kyiv city
Photo by Olenka Kotyk on Unsplash

It must be a joke, a bad one because it makes me feel angry… I am pretty fit, going to the gym every day (before the coronavirus), still trying to keep up with some exercises despite the lockdown, I have cut my food input by half to make sure it will still balance with my “low” physical activity, and some random people want me to believe that after a whole month of quarantine by just doing 15mn of fitness/yoga, however, I will look like this? I have been cooking for 5 people, twice a day, 2 different meals, balanced, healthy, interesting, appealing, challenging (sometimes), and I know that in 2 weeks I will most probably look like this.

brow rabbit
Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

Copyright © 2020 by Nadege Bourdin Fayard

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

expatressources@gmail.com

glenn-carstens-peters-0woyPEJQ7jc-unsplash

In need of inspiration to keep social connection happening for your kids? (and for you?)

 

 

Social distancing isn’t easy. I miss meeting my friends, I miss my book club activity, going to the gym… It is hard on the adults, and even harder on the kids

In this post, Amy Harris gives you few tips and many ideas on how to keep the fun happening and maintain a social connection with a distance… (Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

https://www.getwellscripted.com/post/virtual-playdate-inspiration

Rafaella with mask

My experience of the Coronavirus in Italy and in Shanghai by Rafaella

covid19_chronicles_March2020

My Covid-19 Chronicles

I am Raffaella, an Italian living in Shanghai, China. These two words put together – Italy and China – in this specific moment, might sound like an explosion in the mind of the reader. And yes, this is exactly what it has been for my family in the last two months: an explosive experience, and unfortunately it is not over yet, on the contrary, in many ways it looks like this might just be the beginning, the beginning of a new way of living our lives.

But let us start from the very beginning. We were traveling in Cambodia when the lock down started in the city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei. It happened during the Chinese New Year holidays, and this contributed to make it all worse. Traditionally, this is a moment when everybody is on holiday in this part of the world, and literally nobody stays at home. People either move to reach their families or travel somewhere, mainly to warmer countries, to spend a week relaxing on a beach or by a pool. We first decided to stay as much as possible in Cambodia, to see how the situation would evolve. When we realized that there would be no solution in the near future, we flew back to Shanghai, packed our bags with winter clothes, took the kids’ school material and ran back to Italy. It wasn’t an easy decision. Our life is here in Shanghai, our house, our friends, our cat, everything. We have been moving around the world for the last 14 years. Italy is the place where we spend our Christmas and Summer holidays, and where the children’s grandparents live, but, apart from that, we don’t really feel at home when we are in Italy. For this reason, as soon as we were back in Shanghai from Phnom Penn, even with the pandemic all around us, in our house we felt safe, and would have stayed, if the pressure from friends, families and my husband’s company hadn’t been so strong. I will never forget the feeling I had when I got on the plane: a feeling of sadness and of irrational guilt, as if I was betraying my host country.

The arrival in Europe (Frankfurt first, and then Turin airport) was weird and confusing. We were coming from a country where everyone was using masks and

gloves and keeping distances, to a continent where nothing had changed. On our flight from Frankfurt to Turin we were the only four passengers wearing masks. It was February 5. China was locking down. Europe was in total denial.

When we got home, we decided to put ourselves into self quarantine, because that felt like the right thing to do. Nobody around us seemed to understand us. We were seen as aliens. I remember spending my time chatting with my Italian friends living in China who had also run back to Italy. They were the only people who could understand how I felt. We all knew our country was in danger. None of my friends anywhere else in the world could understand me, and still feel the same now, nobody can really understand how I feel. Only my Italian friends who are back in Shanghai now can. Not even my Italian friends who flew back to Italy and decided not to come back to Shanghai can really understand it. We are kind of stuck together, our elitist group of “survivors”.

The day after our arrival, we were joined by my son’s girlfriend, an American who reached us from Vietnam, where her family was trying to understand whether to go back to China or directly to the US (they eventually flew back to the US, where they still are, waiting for a good time to fly back to China). We spent two weeks isolated, not even willing to be with other people, who were still talking about the virus as something they would never have to worry about.

Meanwhile, on February 4, distance learning for my kids started. Distance learning for students of the international schools spread all over China has nothing to do with the distance learning kids are now experiencing anywhere else in the world, for two reasons:

  1. 1)  for my kids it’s already been two full months since it started;
  2. 2)  when it started, most kids were traveling and never went back to China. International schools had to deal with students spread among tens of different time zones, making it hard to use live online classe for instance. Another simple example: my daughter plays the violin in the string orchestra of her school, and some of her classmates are still away from home, without their instruments,

therefore their teacher had to invent new ways of teaching. It’s been challenging, frustrating, but also inspiring and enriching.

My children have spent the last two months with very little interaction with their peers. I think this has been particularly hard for my son (her girlfriend left for the US after two weeks). He’s 17, a senior graduating this summer. Senior year is supposed to be the one year when kids get the best memories of their friends, before separating for college. As an international student, his friends will go everywhere in the world, his own girlfriend will probably go thousands of miles far from him. These two weeks they spent together in our little mountain village in the North of Italy might be the last time they spent together. If I think about it, it’s just devastating. So, we just try not to think about it, and not to talk too much about it.

When our self imposed quarantine was over, we experienced our only week of real freedom: hairdresser, nails, shopping, restaurants (lots of restaurants), and a lot of family time with grandparents and friends.

And then, on February 24, the nightmare started again. That Monday, when I saw the numbers rising in Italy, and realized what was about to happen, I will never forget what I felt, even if I wouldn’t be able to describe it: desperation maybe is the nearest word. I clearly remember crying because, for the first time, I realized that even my son’s IB exams were in jeopardy now, and not only the exams, but maybe even the start of the new academic year. All of his efforts, his admittance in his dream college, had all of that been in vain? I don’t know why, but the only thing I was able to visualize was my son’s college, maybe because the previous months had been so much focused on college applications.

Anyway, that was when we decided that it was about time to come back home. And we made it! We arrived just before it became so hard to enter China. On March 5 we were finally able to sleep again in our beds, one month after we had left. In my 15 years away from Italy, I had never spent one full month in my hometown. And that month was enough to understand that it will be so hard when it will be time to go back for good! We experienced how hard it is to be understood

and to be accepted as someone who belongs to a place but, at the same time, doesn’t really belong to that place. We also experienced episodes of irrational prejudice towards us, because we were coming from China and were seen by someone as possible spreaders. (Curiously enough, we are now experiencing the same episodes here, of prejudices against foreigners as possible spreaders of a second wave of Covid-19. Isn’t that funny?!)

We have just finished our strict quarantine one week ago. This time it was imposed by the government of Shanghai. We were not allowed to put foot out of our door for 14 days, had to report our body temperature twice a day, and leave our garbage out of the door every morning. Someone would then come and take somewhere where it would be burnt. We were amazed by the organizational skills of the Chinese in dealing with the quarantine. The Chinese will never end to surprise me. I am fascinated by this country and its people.

Shanghai is now slowly getting back to its normal life. Again, immediately after ending the quarantine, I went to do my hair, my mani-pedi, we went to our favorite restaurants, I hired a personal trainer because I gained 5 kilos in these two crazy months!!!!! Also, the economy needs to recover, you get great deals everywhere now in Shanghai, I would have never afforded such an amazing personal trainer two months ago.

But these things cannot prevent us from facing the sad reality: we are not out of the tunnel yet, and we cannot even see the light at the end of it. Italy is now living a nightmare worse than the one China has experienced. My family and friends are there, and we have to cope with feelings of worry, sadness, guilt (of being here, safe, going out for dinner, while they are there), and rage, crazy rage towards our government, who were not able to see it coming. We have a daily appointment at 5pm on Skype with my parents and with my sister. We spend a long time listening to my mom’s complaints and to my dad’s list of the various parts of his body that are hurting. We taught them how to properly use and dispose of a mask, and have started sending them masks from here. We have plenty of masks here, while you cannot find one single mask in Italy. It’s a real shame.

The other reason why I am aware we are not towards the end of the nightmare, but maybe just at the beginning, is that in this part of the world we are already seeing the first signs of a second wave of infections, and this awareness had the same effect on me as the feeling I had on that Monday, February 24, when it all started in Italy. At first, you go crazy, but then, slowly, you react, you metabolize, and you find a way to go on. This is the time in our life we are being the most resilient ever. I am so proud of my kids, their are our heroes, still smiling, still optimistic about their future, while I see myself more and more disillusioned and cynical.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Nadege Bourdin Fayard

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

expatressources@gmail.com