Monthly Thoughts Regarding COVID-19 from December 2019 to April 2020
Around Mid-December, I first heard the news about Coronavirus that was spreading in Wuhan, China. At that time, people did not call it as Coronavirus. The news said that people are suffering from pneumonia in Wuhan. I did not think it would become pandemic. I thought it was just for China because the media explained the main cause of the sickness was due to the unhygienic market which was selling animals as food and unsanitary eating habit of people in Wuhan. In December, I did not wear mask. Most people did not wear a mask in Korea, I even suggested my friend to visit Shanghai for vacation which now I think it was the worst suggestion. Fortunately, she did not go to Shanghai.
Still, in January, I was not aware of the seriousness of Coronavirus because it was not spreading that much in Korea. I often wore a mask but not every time we do now. The government decided to send a chartered flight to bring back Koreans from Wuhan. However, some people in the region in which the returned Koreans would be staying for quarantine were very angry with the government’s decision. They were angry that their region was chosen as the quarantine site. I would be worried if my city is chosen for the quarantine site, but I would not protest like some people did because the Koreans from Wuhan are also “Koreans”. They have the right to be cared for by the government. Also, I was sure that the government would do their best for the community and the returned Koreans.
In February, I had a plan to visit the US. My friend is the US was telling me that the US is safe from the virus and very peaceful. At this time, it was when South Korea started to have a few confirmed cases of Coronavirus. My flight to the US was on the 17th of February. As there were more confirmed cases, more people were wearing masks. On the flight day, my whole family went to the airport wearing masks. Usually, the Incheon Airport is very busy and crowded but because of coronavirus, I could feel there is a huge decrease of travelers at the airport. When I arrived at Tacoma Airport in Seattle, I put my mask on the bag. I heard that wearing a mask in the US has a misconception of only criminals wear masks. I did not want to put myself in trouble, so I decided to not wear a mask. Also, at that time, most people in the US were not aware of the virus. Also, confirmed cases were not high in the US. I stayed in the US for one week. When it was time for me to go back to Korea, my friends and families were telling me that South Korea is experiencing an extreme number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus due to a cult church called Shincheonji. When I came back from the US, South Korea was the middle of the coronavirus war. I could not believe that the whole situation in South Korea changed just within one week of time. Masks and thermometers were all sold out.
School should have started on the 27th of February, but it delayed. I started to feel depressed about the whole situation regarding Coronavirus. Online classes were not familiar. I could not focus well. I could not wait for offline classes. Confirmed cases were exponentially growing in South Korea. I was so scared to watch the news because every time I watch the news, the confirmed cases were increasing in hundreds of units. Whenever I had a headache, I was scared with the feeling that I might have Coronavirus.
I was planning to be transitioning to the SLC campus this summer, but suddenly the US embassy decided to stop processing visas. It was devastating because my whole academic plan is changed. Around Mid-March, it was when the US started to experience a similar situation with South Korea. As soon the school decided to run the rest of the spring semester as online classes in the US, my friends were preparing to come back to Korea. One of my friends bought a one-way ticket to Korea from SLC for $950 but after one week, the same ticket price went up to $2500.
Things are getting much better regarding Coronavirus in Korea. There are fewer confirmed cases. People are still wearing masks, but they started to enjoy outdoor activities as the weather got much warmer. Many people are worried about the fact that people are gathering again because the virus has not ended yet. Things are better but it is not the same as before. We still wear masks. Sometimes, when I see people wearing masks, it is making me sad because the reality we are facing now is so different from last year. Traveling and socializing is limited. I guess many people feel the same way as I do. I really hope we can enjoy our daily lives soon like before Coronavirus existed all around the world.