How expat families are coping with the coronavirus

coronavirus, expat, families

How expat families are coping with the coronavirus

2020 had a rough start in terms of global news. The outbreak of the coronavirus was one of them. The sheer amount of media coverage (on all levels of quality) and the uncertainty that the virus outbreak brought to many lives also affected expat families around the globe but specifically those closer to the area of origin. I was wondering, how expat families are coping with the challenge, how they made their decision on whether to stay or to go “home”, and what they have learned from the current situation.

Thanks to the internet and this great community I was able to ask them directly and I want to share their stories and perceptions with you. In today’s world of unfiltered news and biased media channels funded by industries or private shareholders it’s a great luxury to just hop on the phone or write an email to find out more.

In the following, you will hear the stories and impressions of five expat families, originally from the US, UK, and Germany who are now living in Shanghai, Suzhou, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The first part is my personal summary and learnings from comparing their answers. Keep reading for the detailed interviews and their unique answers further below.

Disclaimer:

This post does not aim to inform about the current situation of the coronavirus nor does it give direction on how to cope with it. If you are interested in official data about the current situation of the corona outbreak visit official websites such as the Robert Koch Institute, the World Health Organization, or the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  

In the meantime, wash hands and keep calm!

The impact of uncertainty on your mood

I asked about their current state of well being in this current turmoil. Button line: All are feeling fine and safe. All mentioned that they went through a phase of uncertainty, not knowing what the actual facts are, carefully observing the development and discussing its consequences on a daily basis. Speculations about the worst-case scenario lead to fear (especially at the beginning). From overwhelming information flows, the need for homeschooling, lack of social interactions, and hoarding masks, sanitizers, and food there have been a lot that these families had to cope with. It was definitely a time when families stuck together, focusing on what is most important (physical health & mental wellbeing) and making the most out of the situation. 


Here are some quotes to illustrate the feeling at the beginning of the corona outbreak:

I wanted to know more about FEELING SAFE during stressful times abroad. At the moment, there is uncertainty and misleading information about the real level of risk for your health. Not a good combination to feel safe actually. 

 

The majority of families asked had more trust in their host country than in their home country to deal with the coronavirus. They observed the actions taken by the local governments and how society reacted. For some it felt like people reacted calmly and trained for the situation, having the latest virus outbreak SARS still in mind. The families who have returned home did not feel safer and have been frustrated by the fact that there were no security measures taken when they arrived at the home airport. They feel that their friends and family back home are not acting as experienced and calm as they have experienced it back in Asia. 

 

On the other hand, it is a daunting feeling living in a country where you are not at all fluent in the language spoken. It can get intimidating seeing warning posters in your apartment building without being able to tell whether its good or bad news. The idea that your children might get separated from you in case of quarantine is also not helping to keep one’s nerves. Some felt more foreign than ever before and even experienced expats that see themselves as global citizens start to see that global crises such as the coronavirus can make you feel uncomfortable abroad. 

Here is what those expat families had to say about feeling safe abroad during the outbreak of coronavirus: 

coronavirus, expat, families

Should I stay or should I go?

From the interviewed expats, two families decided to stay (Suzhou and Singapore), one individual expat (Suzhou) was asked to return to the home base by the employed company, and two expat families decided to split up leaving the husband in Hong Kong and Shanghai while the mother and children returned to their country of origin – at least temporarily. Interestingly enough, the restrictions on daily life have been a much bigger decisive factor than the health risk of the coronavirus itself. 

 

The shutdown of more and more international flights, the fight over toilet paper and the fear of decreasing grocery stocks lead to a feeling of isolation. When escape ways are starting to close down, the apartment feels increasingly constraining due to the mix of home office and hyperactive but bored children, and you are constantly faced with alarming news, some families decided to reevaluate the current situation. Also homeschooling started to become a bigger topic triggering the question for parents whether to stay or leave. 

 

In the end, all expats reported that Suzhou, Shanghai, and Hong Kong feel like home to them. So when families and friends back in the US, the UK, and Germany are asking why they are not coming home right away it prompts the question where “home” is. From an outsider perspective returning home right away might sound reasonable but in a global world like today it is also important to evaluate where you feel home and safe. In the case of the interviewed expats, returning back home lead to family separation and the feeling that this was a decision made by a company but not by the individual. Since starting to write on this blog post, the virus has spread the world and is no longer restricted to certain areas. This again raises the question where you feel safe. Is it the country of your passport? Is it the country you are fluent in its language? Is it the country where your family can be united? As we can observe from the interview answers it is not just about evaluating the facts but also listening to ones gut feeling.

 

Here are some quotes to illustrate the decision process during the first weeks of coronavirus:

coronavirus, expat, families

Coping with the overflow of information about coronavirus

Coping with the sheer amount of information available in our modern age seems to be the toughest part for us individuals in a state of uncertainty nowadays. What do you do with all the information? How not to get insane when the news ticker is floating in 24/7? Social Media has added a lot of pressure to the whole topic. It changed the way we share information. We instantly get an audience if we want to. For some, sharing provocative posts is like a coping mechanism for their own fear. Individuals become catalysts of fake news while officials and governments are dealing with the complexity of preparing for the worst case without creating a panic. 

So how did the interviewed expats deal with this?

 

Coping with the overflow of information, learning to tell fake news from actual facts and dealing with the different perspectives of news depending on its country has been a big learning curve. Some expats feel in the constant urge to explain themselves to friends and family back home being grateful for the time difference that functions as a buffer. Staying positive and consciously switching off mobile phones, meditation, and learning to consume only small doses of trustworthy news have been the coping mechanism of the interviewed expats. 

 

Here are some quotes that illustrate this effort and also keep on reading till the end of the post to get very interesting detailed answers:

coronavirus, expat, families

The effect on partner dynamics and family time

The virus has lead to a change in family dynamics within most expat families. While some have to deal with the separation from children or the partner, others are faced with being together 24/7. Many employees stayed at home and new technology made work from home and even homeschooling a safe option. Over time, some returned to work (or partially) and others are dealing with one week of homeschooling after another. Communication is key in such intense times. It’s a mixed blessing to spend so much time together as a family. You start to realize how different each family member copes with the new situation. 

For all, the uncertainty of when homeschooling ends or when families will be reunited is the most painful factor. Separated families have not booked a return flight yet and there is not end in sight. Same applies for homeschooling. Many families are in week 5 or 6 of homeschooling already. While the new technology is a blessing and children are educated in learning independently they are missing their social contacts. Parents have to act as teachers which also contributes to a tense atmosphere from time to time. 

 

Here are some quotes that illustrate the work from home and homeschooling reality: 

coronavirus, expat, families

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Prime time for personal growth

The last two months have been a time for reflection for the families interviewed. It has been a time of personal growth and breaking down big questions into smaller more digestible action points. It’s a time of change that reminded many that life is not linear and obstacles can arise anytime. Mental and physical health have become even more important. The expats interviewed learned to deal with the huge overload of information, learned to stick together as a family, and reevaluating the situation from day to day. If you follow some of the expats on their social media channels you can learn more about how they cope with their daily lives. 

Here are some Instagram profiles to follow: 

Michael – US expat in Shanghai

Jana – German expat in Suzhou

Tani – German expat in Singapore

Selina – German expat in Suzhou

Nicola – British expat in Hong Kong (blog)

Besides the struggle there is still time to laugh

You can find laughter and joy even in challenging and stressful times. I asked the expat families about funny moments that happened over the last weeks and here is what they had to share:

Top tips for other expats

In the sense of Share-the-Love I asked about their advice for other expats and their two cents of wisdom to share. 

When reading through it you can clearly see how all those expats have gained insights, mastered the situation with their very own approach, and most of all stayed positive (till this day) besides the challenging situation. 

So here it is in combined form: 

  • Michael: Regardless of this current situation and how scary it has been at times, I am still very excited to be an expat. We don’t sign up for this life for comfort. For me, deciding to leave the comforts of home and seek adventure, by definition means we also need to embrace the dark side of this choice. It isn’t always easy. It is quite often frustrating. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me. My personal motto is: live a kick-ass life by moving every three years. This current crisis has not changed my thinking on this.
  • Jana: When you live abroad it is not always funny. You will have moments when your decision may fluctuate. You can have situations which you never had in mind. Situation you never believed in. Unexpected things. But I think if we have decided to life abroad wholeheartedly and a good gut feeling, we can master any situation.
  • Nicola: Keep calm, catch your sneezes and wash, wash, wash your hands.
  • Selina: Follow your feelings. Make your own decisions according to your inner voice. Stay positive. Accept the situation as it is and try to learn from it. Make the best of every day!!!

Some personal notes

It was great fun putting these pieces of wisdom together and sharing these first-hand experiences with you. I hope you gained some insights while reading. Feel free to share with friends and family!

My personal learning is once again: There is a beauty in a globally connected world. Challenges like this, a virus who is spreading the world, might trigger us to favor isolation and xenophobia. But when we withhold the first reaction of panic we are also able to see the beauty in it: Countries and research teams have never worked together that openly and efficiently! Thanks to our global lifestyles and technology we are able to talk to people about their current situation. Even though I am still in the bubble of expats and not talking with locals at the moment, these expat insights gave me valuable information as it brought the current lifestyle in other parts of the world closer to me. Many of us are learning how to digest the sheer amount of media at the moment. We are in the midst of learning to differentiate between fake news and actual facts. It actually seems we have to remind ourselves:  Breath and think before jumping to conclusions. Our gut feeling is getting more important and we have to rediscover the power of listening to our own instincts.  It is easy to have a negative image of the world when observing the current situation: panic buying, fake news, isolation, xenophobia…you name it. BUT: Living abroad is a catalyst to a more complex and positive mindset that enables you to embrace diversity rather than rejecting it. And as long as we continue to explore the world I will stay hopeful about humanity.

 

Keep reading for the full interviews with the expat families. Don’t forget to share and comment. Let us know about your situation! It is definitely a developing topic and the continuous spread and misinformation is pushing many of us to their limits. Stay positive and continue listening to your gut feeling 🙂 

Thanks for sharing the love and stopping by

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

2 thoughts on “How expat families are coping with the coronavirus”

  • I was in Singapore for Lunar New Year when the coronavirus started hitting China and the cases were spreading so fast throughout Asia. It was scary to read the news and made everyone so paranoid. Now I’m in Sweden and Europe has seen such a rapid rise in cases. So much fear mongering is being spread and like all the others in this article, we just have to build up our immunity, reflect, and keep hygienic and calm. But also to distance from those vulnerable people as well. I’ve had to cancel a trip back to Singapore to visit my parents because I don’t want to spread any germs onto them after a long haul flight.

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Deep dive into the interviews

So if you want to learn more about those expat families I can recommend you visiting their blogs or social media channels. Or keep on reading and dive into their specific answer to each question: 

Who:

Michael, US expat in Shanghai.  

current situation:

His wife and his two children are back in the US for the moment. Michael stayed in Shanghai. 

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Question 1: How do you feel about the current Situation?

I’m doing really good! There is a lot of uncertainty and I feel terrible for the people under quarantine in Wuhan and other cities, but in general, the virus has been controlled in Shanghai to a relatively small population of people. In the beginning, I will admit I felt a lot of fear, mostly due to speculation and worse case scenario news stories. Over the weeks Ive learned to take daily snapshots of the news to stay informed, but no longer pour over multiple data sources, it’s just too overwhelming and didn’t help my mental health.

Question 2: How did you decide on whether to stay or to leave?

This was a daily  topic with my family leading up to the decision to fly my wife and two daughters back to the United States. We didn’t want to overreact and create unnecessary complexity or expense if the situation remained contained. However, as the infection cases continued to rise, we got more and more nervous. The real decision point was when airlines started shutting down flights in and out of China. 
We made the decision to get the girls out and Id stay to care for our adopted street dog Frankie and work. 
 
We have been expats for nearly 5 years in China (and Vietnam for two years in 2006/07) but never really felt isolated until the “escape routes” began closing down. We consider ourselves world citizens, but moments like this, you do begin to feel your “foreigner” status. 
 
As an example, the possibility that if our kids got sick, they would be kept in isolation away from their parents, in a local hospital where decisions for care would be taken away from us, not to mention that  they possibly wouldn’t be able to speak the language to interact with the doctors and nurses, was a deal breaker. We couldn’t take the risk of that happening, especially with the  fear that had been created during this crisis. 
 
We felt it was better to be safe and get them out than to be at the mercy of a system that we couldn’t fully participate in.

Question 3: How do you deal with the huge amount of information out there?

This was really hard for me. I am a voracious reader (about a book a week plus multiple news and journal articles daily), so the amount of information I was consuming as the crisis unfolded left me stressed to the max. I had trouble sleeping, as I played through each scenario in my head. 
 
And of course, fielding he questions from family and friends back in the US, though well-meaning, created added pressure. Ultimately, I decided to pull back from the research and just try and live more in the moment. Take care of the daily needs of myself and my family and put some space between me and the 24 hour news cycle. I also have a daily meditation practice that I had allowed to slip during the first few weeks of the outbreak. This was a mistake. Once I realized my mind missed the daily stillness and perspective it brought, I got back to it. And it helped immensely.

Question 4: Do you feel more or less safe living abroad right now?

I have always felt extremely safe in China. Violent crime is basically none compared the US and I have never felt any sort of physical danger (other than crossing the street as traffic laws are sporadically followed). 
 
However, there have been moments during this crisis where I’ve defintely felt like an outsider and realized that gap will never be bridged. I don’t speak Mandarin and have always been able to navigate this pretty much fine during my 5 years here. But now that I need to be more up to date on information, I’ve really felt my lack of literacy for the first time. 
 
And, in certain ways, this could increase my risk. I can’t read the signs posted throughout my apartment building. Do the signs tell me that someone has been infected on my floor? I have no idea. 
 
This creates a subtle unease that I can’t shake right now. It doesn’t control my mood too much, more of a reality that I can’t fix so I try and not worry.

Question 5: How does the current situation affect your relationship with your partner (and children if any)? 

My wife worries les than I do (in general) so I had to convince her to leave. She always assumes theist, which is great, but sometimes clashes with my slightly more pragmatic approach. This allows us to make more balanced decisions as we are both able to contribute different perspectives.

Question 6: What was the funniest moment that happened because of the situation?

During the few weeks before they went home, the kids had been inside for nearly a week and were going crazy. The apartments are small compared to our houses in the US, so space is at a premium. They tried their best to remain calm, but they finally decided to have hoverboard races in the hallway, which culminated in a high speed crash that left a dent in our wall and a large bump on the back of my youngest daughter’s head. 

Question 7: In case this period has been a time of personal growth to you: How so?

Absolutely! After my family went back to the US, my work officially shutdown so I ended up having two weeks to myself at home. I rarely went outside, due to the government advice to limit this, so I couldn’t get distracted with external commitments or errands. I spent a lot of time meditating, which has been a life saving practice for me. I also spent time writing, reading and working on my 5 year goal planning. I always have a yearly set of goals that I work through, but this time away from work has allowed me the time  to zoom out and do some longer term  life planning.
 
I’ve also spent time thinking about times of uncertainty and feelings of fear. Being able to take these emotions in and not let them grow beyond reason has been an important insight  for me. I don’t think I would’ve been able to get so in touch with this if not for this coronavirus situation. For that I’m grateful.

Who:

Jana, German expat in Suzhou

current situation:

Jana, her husband, and her two children (8 and 13 years old) are currently still in Suzhou. She is sharing a lot about her daily life and the struggle with homeschooling on social media. 

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Question 1: How do you feel about the current Situation?

I’m fine. My family and I are healthy and safe. The current situation is very challenging. For everyone. Nobody knows when we will be back in daily routine. The schools are closed. The kids have homeschooling. Restaurants, playgrounds, public buildings are closed. If we go out we have to wear a mask. For us this is unusual. That is the reason why we are at home the most of the time. The kids miss their friends.

Question 2: How did you decide on whether to stay or to leave?

We decided to stay because here is our home. We live in China and we were and are not in danger. We checked all the information we had. After this, we talked about and then we decided on our gut feeling. Our gut feeling was positive. We saw the actions of China in this crisis. And we saw that all the people were involved. In addition, my husband would have stayed in China. Separation of the family was never an option. We wanted to stay together.

Question 3: How do you deal with the huge amount of information out there?

I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I can hear all the news. Sometimes I do not want to hear this stuff. Many people have real news but most of them have fake news. The difference is not easy to find out. Yes, it is not easy to stay calm and explain to everyone how it is here. I need to learn to look at myself and my family. That I check all information and that I trust what I see. I see the fever station. I see the information paper in the stores. I see the measurements. And every evening I find 5 positive things of the day. For example that the sun was shining, that the air was ok, that my daughter was playing with her girlfriend, that the numbers are getting better.

Question 4: Do you feel more or less safe living abroad right now?

We feel safe here. Chinas reaction was quick, rigorous and consequent. The experience is new to me. But it is interesting to see how the country reacted. At this moment we are not going out without a mask. In the shops are fever stations. Its not easy for everyone but everyone does best. I think that is the reason why we feel safe here.

Question 5: How does the current situation affect your relationship with your partner (and children if any)? 

Good question. Homeschooling is a big challenge for all of us. I’m the mum of my kids, not the teacher. But I have to help if the kids have any questions. And my time for other things is very limited. We are together the whole day and sometimes we need a break from us. However, this is currently not possible. And so we talk about our feelings and our fear. We talk and after this, we laugh and have fun. I think if we are not honest than we have a problem.

Question 6: What was the funniest moment that happened because of the situation?

At the beginning of the quarantine my husband went shopping. So many things, that I thought the shops were empty now. And then he cooked for three or four hours and keep it in the freezer. Our freezer has never been so full. The grocery stores were always open and full.

Question 7: In case this period has been a time of personal growth to you: How so?

I learned many things about myself. I learned that I can survive a state of emergency. That I can trust my gut feeling. I learned that my husband and I are very good team. And I have learned to be thankful again.For things that I have. For my health and my family.

Who:

Nicola, British expat in Hong Kong

current situation:

Nicola has returned to the UK with her two children while her husband stayed in the Hong Kong. 

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Question 1: How do you feel about the current Situation?

We are a British family based in Hong Kong and we are fine, although emotions over the last few weeks have fluctuated between calm rationality and anxious concern. Hong Kongers went through SARS in 2003, so as soon as news started trickling through of a mystery virus over the border people took immediate precautions. On an individual level that meant securing medical masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant and keeping as much social distance as possible. On a community level cleaning was stepped up, schools, museums and other public spaces were closed until further notice. Back home in the UK on the other hand it feels like there is a lot of complacency. I flew back with the children a few days ago and there was no apparent screening upon arrival. We have chosen to self-quarantine for two weeks just in case, but 1000’s of people are travelling all over the planet and most don’t appear to be taking many or any such precautions. So it feels like it’s only a matter of time before the outbreak could become a problem here too. 

Question 2: How did you decide on whether to stay or to leave?

We stayed put in Hong Kong for the first couple of weeks, but with schools closed and chatter that the closures would likely be extended our options were staying in an apartment with supermarkets running low and many public places closed we took a pre-emptive decision. Also my husband has been working from home, so it was difficult for him to concentrate with us all on top of each other. Now that we are in our home country we feel more relaxed, even though anxiety about coronavirus is slowly kicking in here. The children are able to get out in the fresh air more and we have a lot more space and plenty of loo roll – just this morning there were reports of an armed robbery in Hong Kong involving toilet paper. The decision to leave was tough as our family is now temporarily split with no firm date of when we will be together again. Myself and the children are in the UK, but my husband remains – for now working from home – in Hong Kong. 

Question 3: How do you deal with the huge amount of information out there?

The quantity of information is overwhelming. We certainly felt that we were up to date on the situation faster than family and friends back home and yet lagging local friends who see additional information in Chinese. I continue to check the news sources and expat Facebook groups in Hong Kong which often give more personal updates on what’s happening, so we feel fractionally ahead of the news cycle in our home country. In terms of preparedness, Hong Kong is far ahead of the UK. However Hong Kong is an incredibly crowded city with densely populated residential areas, most live in apartment blocks with shared entrances and lifts. In the UK we are now in a rural area so avoiding crowds is much easier and we are staying in a standalone house rather than an apartment block where you have shared building facilities and entrances. Every time we looked out of the window in Hong Kong we saw people wearing masks. The city felt eerily quiet. That’s not an ideal environment for kids.

Question 4: Do you feel more or less safe living abroad right now?

We didn’t feel unsafe in Hong Kong, just bored and a little anxious. Since we arrived back in the UK, Hong Kong school closures have been extended from 2nd of March until 16th of March at the earliest – the decision to come back feels validated.

Question 5: How does the current situation affect your relationship with your partner (and children if any)? 

We check in with my husband daily – hooray for digital technology. Expat life has often meant that we have not all been in the same country at the same time over the years, so that’s not new, it’s just the uncertainty of when we will be all together that is frustrating.

Question 6: What was the funniest moment that happened because of the situation?

My son had some homework where he had to discover the moral of a story where a gorilla was hoarding bananas but ultimately discovered that life is better if you share. In real life he was able to relate that back to the toilet roll hoarding we’d seen.

Question 7: In case this period has been a time of personal growth to you: How so?

Possibly I’ve grown a few grey hairs. Joking aside, our kids are now much more aware of the benefits of handwashing and they are having to take a greater ownership of their school work, as all their learning is online for the coming weeks. Socially they are having to rely on each other, but then as expat kids, that’s not new for them as they have to do that every time we move. Nevertheless, they are really missing their friends and school.

Who:

Tani, German expat in Singapore

current situation:

She, her husband, and her two children are staying in Singapore at the moment. 

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Question 1: How do you feel about the current Situation?

Much better than a few weeks ago! Singapore is doing a fab job preventing the virus from spreading. I feel very safe here and while our families were first advising us to come to Europe for a while I am actually very happy that we stayed.

Question 2: How did you decide on whether to stay or to leave?

Singapore’s government is sending Whatsapp updates about how the situation evolves every day if you register for their daily updates. When we went to orange on the DORSCON scale we decided to get ready to leave for a while but only if schools would be closed. This never happened (at least it didn’t so far).

Question 3: How do you deal with the huge amount of information out there?

I actually think the panic is worse than the virus itself. We are living in a time where everyone can share any kind of information very quickly over social media, messages etc.. Everyone has a voice, which is very positive of course but can also be damaging when false rumours are spread. In one Facebook group, I read the story of a Chinese mum living abroad who made the experience that her little toddler was excluded from a game in a play area by older kids due to the fact that he ‘looked Chinese and might have the virus’. This is very sad. It actually broke my heart to read this. I think we have to be very careful with the information that we consume, always check the source and validity. I personally decided to follow the official updates given by the government and a few other trustworthy sources only. I am also very careful about how I communicate with my 3 and 5-years old children.

Question 4: Do you feel more or less safe living abroad right now?

Now that the virus started to be in other parts of the world as well, I more and more think that no borders can keep you ‘safe’ in such a situation. It is much more important what you do as an individual to protect yourself and help prevent the virus from spreading. We as a family focus on strengthening our immune system (getting nutrients from whole food, getting enough rest and spending some time outdoors in nature every day), on acting responsibly (washing our hands regularly, avoiding crowded places, covering our mouth when we sneeze etc.) and on having a positive attitude overall.

Question 5: How does the current situation affect your relationship with your partner (and children if any)? 

My husband is working from home one week out of two at the moment. My kids go to school as usual. I actually enjoy working/studying from home with my husband by my side. It’s a nice change. In terms of my relationship with my kids, as said, I am making them aware of the situation but I try to use appropriate words that won’t scare them. My husband and I also try to remind ourselves that they are constantly listening to what we talk about… 

Question 6: What was the funniest moment that happened because of the situation?

Can’t think of anything right now 🙈 oh yes! The fact that there was a time when there was no toilet paper available anymore… I totally understood that people were panic buying food, masks and sanitisers but I still wonder why the toilet paper was in such high demand…

Question 7: In case this period has been a time of personal growth to you: How so?

It definitely reminded me of how quickly a situation can change. Of how quickly we as humans can go into panic mode… I personally believe that masks and sanitisers can only protect you up to a certain point. Just like with every virus, however, it eventually comes down to your immune system. Maybe this virus is a wake up call to all of us that it is high time to make some lifestyle changes? It is proven that a person who sleeps less than 6h per night over a considerable period of time is much more prone to viral infections. Something to think about…

Who:

Selina, German expat in Suzhou

current situation:

Since end of January back in Germany after her company sent her back

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Question 1: How do you feel about the current Situation?

Most of all I feel sad. I don’t feel worry or something like that. I feel sad.

Sad because I’m back in Germany now and I don’t know what will happen in the next week and months. Sad because life has change drastically from one day to next. And sad about to see and feel the situation on site in China.

Empty streets, malls, subways, trains, airports. No people on the street and also no cars. That makes me sad and it’s also a little creepy.

Question 2: How did you decide on whether to stay or to leave?

I left China on the 30.1. I’m back in Germany now for more than two weeks, since yesterday I continued working, in Germany.

The decision to leave China was made by my company. At least at that early stage. I think this decision was the right one. But it didn’t felt like it was my own decision. It felt like somebody decide and I have to follow because it is the right. At the time of the announcement of the Corona Virus I had visit from a friend in China. The decision to leave was more easy because we can go back together.

The decision is still okay for me. But like already said, I don’t like the feeling to don’t know what will happen.

Question 3: How do you deal with the huge amount of information out there?

While still in China I was grateful for the time distance. Days in China are almost done when the relatives from Germany feeds you with information and breaking news. Decisions are made, things are chosen and everything was handled before all of the “Take care…” and “Did you hear about…” information from German side. But anyway, I didn’t fear, and my friend also not. Sometimes we decided to switch off our cellphones to just enjoy evenings of wonderful days. We were together and make decisions together and take care of each other.

The first week I was back in Germany I heard a lot of radio and watched the news in the television. But it makes me angry. Because in my opinion the news and the reality are not the same. The news spread fear and terror, the Chinese behave in an exemplary manner. I choose to inform via Instagram and WeChat with news directly from Suzhou, from expats who are still there.

Question 4: Do you feel more or less safe living abroad right now?

Of course it depend on how you handle it and how you feel it. I saw all people working together, hand in hand, everybody follows the regulations. Here in Germany are no regulations, because the situation here is under control. In the beginning I was angry. But now I arranged with the different situations in Germany and in China.

Question 5: How does the current situation affect your relationship with your partner (and children if any)? 

I don’t have a partner or children. I went to China for my own. So no change in this kind of relationship.

The positive change is that now I have my parents and friends around me.

Question 6: What was the funniest moment that happened because of the situation?

Nothing special to tell, but if you stay positive you can find this moments even in the worst situation 🙂

Question 7: In case this period has been a time of personal growth to you: How so?

Of course! Situations like this are always connected with personal grow. In fact, every new, unusual or different situation in life means personal grow.

Also: in my opinion it depend on how you think and feel about the situation. If you consciously accept the situation. I try to make every situation in my life to a personal grow situation. I try to learn from good issues as well as from not that good issues, like such an epidemic. One more time I saw and feel for myself: I can handle it. I can keep cool and make decisions. I’m in life, in my life and an can handle every situation, with the correct mindset

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