• María

Part Two: How to Survive a Quarantine in Another Country


This is the second part of a double blog feature written by one of our European Solidarity Corps Volunteers, María de Villalba, which chronicles her two week quarantine upon arriving in Ireland from Spain. Edited by Peter Hussey and Charlie Farrell.

Read part one here.


Living Together:


Koldo and I were very lucky to come to Ireland together. We have been friends for two years now, and it was very relieving knowing that we weren’t going to be alone in this new adventure. At first, I thought we were going to get along during the quarantine, that we were not going to have any conflicts. But in the end some problems came up.


We had to self-isolate in the tiniest apartment ever, and we had to deal with our differences and stressful moments. The first days we didn’t have any issues, we were very excited and entertained, and enjoying each other's company. But as the days passed by we dealt with a lot of stress.


The water in the apartment was cutting off for no reason, our fridge started to defrost, the WI-FI stopped working etc. It was then when our relationship started to become challenging. Despite all, we were still very fortunate to self-isolate together, as I can not imagine how trickier it would have been to be restricted in an apartment with a stranger.


Our Impressions of Dublin:


We both loved our stay in Dublin, although we would have preferred to be able to see the city in normal conditions. We are looking forward to going back to Dublin as soon as possible, and visiting the city properly this time.


Two of the things we loved the most about the city was the architecture and urban art, which was everywhere. Our favourite place was Phoenix Park, where we went running during our last day in Dublin. It was lovely, we saw a lot of animals but we weren’t lucky enough to spot the famous deers. However, we saw a bunch of squirrels! Unfortunately, it started raining and we had to get back home sooner than we expected.


Arriving in Newbridge:


After two weeks, we were more than happy to come to Newbridge, although it was during the stage five restrictions. We were both very excited and nervous to meet our host families and the rest of the volunteers. I can say that everyone here is lovely and our experience, apart from the adversities of Covid, so far it’s terrific, way above the expectations I had for it.


The first weeks working in our host organization were on zoom. In the first instance I was kind of skeptical about digital drama. But after our first workshop I saw that it was possible to make drama in these conditions.


We are the youngest volunteers, and we are not as experienced as the others, so our tasks as objectives are slightly different. We both facilitate one workshop as auxiliary facilitators, but we also participate in some workshops as we are the same age as most of the participants. I’m really happy with this decision, I feel that I'm learning something new everyday, and these two perspectives help me to improve in the other one.


Nonetheless we are also receiving facilitation classes. Since I’ve started this programme I feel a lot less restrained, more free and unconcerned about what other people think of me. This experience has been very enriching for now, and it’s helping me a lot to grow as a person and to get to know myself better.


Two weeks ago the lockdown finished, so we were able to have face to face workshops again.The first day it was a little bit challenging for me, as I struggled to recognise the rest of participants wearing masks. and there was a totally different group dynamic.


We also have a lot of profitable activities. We are receiving English classes, yoga classes and physical theatre classes. One Spanish volunteer told us that sadly each year one volunteer used to come back sooner to their country due to loneliness, but our experience has been the opposite for now. All the volunteers get along, we feel welcomed, we haven’t had any problem with our host families and we feel heard by our host organisation. They always keep in mind our interests and offer us a lot of possibilities if we are not happy with something, or if we have any personal problem.


-María de Villalba, 2020

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