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Collected Item: “A Long Way Home”

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A Long Way Home

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text story, photograph

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As an international student from China, one of my most impressive experiences about COVID-19 was the long journey when my friends and I returned home from Denver to Beijing. We knew this journey home is bound to be challenging since it happened at such a particular time.
The first challenge we faced is to make preparation for the flight. Getting on a flight successfully is largely a matter of luck, as you never know if your flight will be canceled just before the departure date. Due to changing flight policies, our tickets were canceled three times. At that time, my friends and I felt deep powerlessness in the unstable situation. Fortunately, after the fourth flight adjustment, we successfully boarded the journey home.
To prevent being infected by coronavirus at the crowded airport, we armed ourselves to the teeth. We wore medical gloves and masks, raincoats (because protective suits were sold out), and we even prepared ski goggles since the safety goggles were sold out too. During the 18 hours on the plane, we just ate a few bars of chocolate and drank some water. And that was the second challenge we faced. However, thanks to the company and encouragement of my two friends that made our time on the plane less stressful and depressed.
When we arrived wearily in Guangzhou, we found out a new policy just published that requires returnees to be quarantined as soon as they got off the plane. Therefore, we had to cancel the ticket from Guangzhou to Beijing. As soon as we got off the plane we were taken to a local hotel where we are going to be quarantined for 14 days.
During the quarantine, I went through an experience I never had before. Food is delivered to us every day by staff wearing protective suits. And we measured our body temperature at regular intervals every day. In order to overcome the loneliness during the 14 days, my friends and I created an online meeting room, which made us feel that we are eating and studying together.
Finally, 16 days after leaving Denver, my friends and I returned to our hometown Beijing. For me, there is nothing happier than seeing my parents in person and eating food cooked by them! My friends and I grew up a lot after going through this experience. This long way home taught us the importance of adjusting mood and supporting each other in times of crisis.

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Yuning Wang

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