My COVID story: Traveling back to the States and maintaining perspective

Image courtesy of Madison Carroll

Madison Carroll, junior international relations and Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy major, has been studying at Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall. Carroll is from Springfield, Mo. In addition to her studies, Carroll has been working on planning her August wedding in the midst of the pandemic. 

“I was meant to go to Italy, the Czech Republic and London over the break. At this point, those travel plans have been canceled and I currently do not have plans to return to Oxford.”

“Initially, I viewed the situation as something that would mainly affect larger cities. I was not that surprised to hear of cases in London, but as time went on it was clear it was becoming a global crisis. One case was reported at Oxford, but there was hope that a spread would be contained. However, during the second week of March – a week prior to break – it was clear that the virus was unlikely to be contained in most parts of the world and I realized it was probable that we would not return to Oxford.”

Carroll traveled home from Oxford to Springfield March 14 – the day Trump announced that the UK would be included in the international travel ban.

“Coming home was not that bad. I flew through London Heathrow and it was busy but not extremely crazy. Most people were in gloves and masks – or scarves. I spoke to many students who were moving home because their study abroad programs were canceled.”

Carroll has spent time both in Liberty and Springfield since her return, and she commented on responses in each place.

“All of the cities [Kansas City, Liberty and Springfield] have similar responses but they are just delayed. Kansas City first started instituting stricter measures and then a stay-at-home order, Liberty soon followed and Springfield is putting its stay-at-home order in place this week [the week of March 23]. However, it does seem like people in Kansas City might be more accepting of the order since it’s a bigger city whereas in Springfield the stay-at-home order has been met with some opposition.”

Carroll described the communication she has received from both Jewell and Oxford University in this time.

“Specifically for Oxbridge students, the last time we heard from Jewell regarding our study abroad was in the second week of March where they made the decision to not call us back home but also told us that if a student did not want to return for the final trimester their decision would be supported.” 

“From Oxford, we have heard that most teaching for the next term will likely be online but besides that, they seem to be still working on contingency plans for the next term. Lady Margaret Hall has cautioned students to not return or stay on-campus unless they are willing to be there for several months. They have also warned that the NHS (UK National Healthcare Service) is no longer testing people with mild symptoms and thus, they do not know how many students at the college have the virus.”

Because the coronavirus pandemic has impacted so much of daily life, Carroll described her experience planning a wedding at this time.

“[Our plans] haven’t been severely affected, which is good. Our wedding is not [until] August so hopefully, no plans will change, but I know that some weddings meant to take place in April and May have been moved. We’ve decided that we’re getting married on [August 8] though, even if just in front of our families!”

In summation, Carroll gave some perspective on her – and many of our – privilege in this difficult global time. 

“Though it’s been a stressful and uncertain time for most people, I think it’s important to remember that my situation, and many others, are good compared to what some people are currently going through. While it’s okay to be upset about programs and activities being canceled, I always like to keep some perspective in mind.”

Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.