By Graham Nau
Summer 2020 Issue
Pictured above: Logroño, Spain (October 2019) by Telo Hoy
It has officially been three weeks since the quarantine has been in place here in Spain. I have decided to write down some of my thoughts and experiences with regards to this entire ordeal in order to have a record of this dark and historic period I am living through.
When I first heard about a new virus in China that was affecting thousands and resulting in many deaths, I assumed that it would be similar to the Swine Flu or Ebola, never becoming so bad as to drastically affect the entire globe. This was in early January of this year, 2020. We are now in early April and what I never expected would occur has. Since the beginning of 2020 until now, the coronavirus has spread throughout the globe, resulting in thousands of deaths and grinding life as we know it to a halt. The scientific community has informed world leaders that the best approach is to implement quarantine measures in order to diminish the further spread of the virus. The government of Spain, where I am currently living, has wisely decided to take up these measures and for three weeks now we have only been allowed to leave the apartment for groceries and in the case of emergencies. The good news is that for the past several days the quarantine appears to be paying off. We see the number of new cases as well as the death toll dropping. This is very welcome news for everyone in Spain and gives me great hope to see. The quarantine was originally scheduled to end on the 12th of April but was recently extended to the 26th. Being in quarantine for more time was not the greatest of news, but I know it is the right measure to take in order to combat this virus in the most effective way and it gives me a greater sense of security. In contrast, I see in the news the unorganized approach the Trump administration has taken to combatting the virus and it makes me quite ashamed at my country’s ill prepared position. I hope all my family and friends in the states take the same measures being enforced in Spain and that everyone comes out safe and healthy.
Having been stuck in quarantine for three weeks now, I have surprisingly become quite accustomed to this new pace of life. The days are productively filled with many personal projects such as reading long awaited books, drawing, learning French, filling out job applications, and improvised workouts. I’m fortunate enough to be riding out this experience with a good group of friends: Jace, Chris, and Andrew, all of whom are English assistants here in Logroño, Spain just like myself. Having social companionship definitely makes the experience much lighter and I know it would be more difficult to be in quarantine alone. During the beginning of the quarantine, the status of our job as English assistants was very much up in the air given that all of our classes have been temporarily called off. Over the past week it has become clear that the most likely scenario is that we will be called on by our schools to do virtual assignments that will then be passed along to the students; a way for them to continue hearing and practicing English from their homes. Recently, Chris and I made videos of us baking chocolate chip cookies to impart an aspect of US culture and review cooking vocabulary with the students. I plan on making similar videos over the coming weeks. I’m quite happy, that in some form, our jobs are continuing on and we still have pay. I know that thousands are feeling the economic impact of the global slowdown and I am quite thankful to have missed that bullet. All things considered, I feel that I am in one of the best situations I could be given the current situation. I have good company, I’m staying productive, and most importantly, I have no symptoms. For the moment the best I can do is lay low and hope the situation improves as quickly as possible.
-Graham Nau, April 5th 2020
Graham Nau is currently working as an English Language Assistant in Logroño, Spain. He assists teachers in the classroom with the process of teaching English as a second language largely through discussions about cultural similarities and differences between the United States and Spain. He graduated May of 2019 with a degree in International Relations from Bard College. His main academic and professional interests include foreign languages, culture, politics, and economics. In his free time he enjoys weightlifting, reading, traveling, and good conversation over a couple of beers.