Traveling during a pandemic


Typically, Dublin’s Grafton Street is busy and packed. However, in this eerie scene the street is occupied by the common bird and the grey clouds overhead. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to take on precautionary and even draconian measures.

Delaney O'Sullivan, Staff Writer

In March I traveled to Dublin, Ireland. It was my first time out of the country and I was so excited. I have traveled before to amazing places, but this time was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
My last week of school before the trip was stressful. I had friends and teachers asking me if I was nervous about traveling during such a time and I wasn’t until they brought it up. There was also the occasional “what if” brought to my attention in the form of a witty comment or sarcastic joke, but I wondered if the what if’s were something I should be worried about. If someone had told me that would be the last week I attended school before the state shutdown, I would have thought they were crazy but the next week changed my perception completely.
I left O’Hare airport on March 7. At this point COVID-19 was just starting to be recognized as a legitimate concern after states like New York were starting be hit hard. The airport was empty and I walked through security like everything was normal. I laughed when I saw masks being sold for 10 dollars because at the time the CDC was recommending to not wear masks. I applied hand sanitizer and wiped down my seat and tray on the plane as a precaution, but I still was ignorant to the extremities of this virus.
When I arrived in Europe on March 8, things were being handled differently than America. The Dublin airport had flyers posted with the symptoms of COVID-19, many tourist locations were shutdown, and the novel virus was not being taken lightly. However, schools, restaurants, and other places where people congregate were not shutdown yet.
The day before I was supposed to come home, I woke up to several texts from friends and family asking if I was going to be able to come home. I was confused but quickly learned that President Trump had placed a travel ban on specific countries in Europe. Luckily Ireland was not included at the time and the ban did not include American citizens.
On March 12, it was time to fly home. I was certain that I was going to be screened for symptoms, but I wasn’t. It was the same experience as before, eerie and slightly off. I was scared. I applied hand sanitizer like a madwoman and wiped down every single thing I came into contact with.
Some in the airport were making attempts to be safe but I did see the occasional person who had gloves on but continued to touch their face even after touching a doorknob. Looking back, I find the masks and gloves ironic because most of the people wearing them were using it as a fashion statement or to be funny. I saw a lot of mask selfies taken. The majority of Americans were still taking it lightly.
I got home and wasn’t allowed to hug any of my family besides my mom (who had traveled with me) and I had to wash and clean everything I brought with me. March 16, the following Monday, my mom kept me home from school for extra precaution. It was also the last day school was in session, the last day of my parents going to work, and the last day of normalcy.