Fashion North‘s Barbora Bednarova reveals her two-day, 1,400-mile journey through six countries to get home to Slovakia from the University of Sunderland
We all heard about Coronavirus before it hit us. I remember I was reading an article about the Chinese government wanting to build a hospital in seven days.
That was the first time I thought this might be serious, but I hoped it would stay in China.
It was the beginning of March, just when I had come back from my home country of Slovakia where I spent my boyfriend’s birthday.
I came back to continue my fashion journalism course at Sunderland university and thought that the virus might be slowly spreading everywhere but was not too serious.
Suddenly the numbers of people infected started to grow and I heard about other people trying to get back to their home countries. I thought, they were just needlessly panicking.
I said to myself: “I can’t leave! I have to finish my third year fashion journalism project, a website on living sustainably, and I have a lot of assignments and work…”
I am from Slovakia, over 1,400 miles from Sunderland, but by the time my housemates and I started to think about going back home, it was already impossible.
The borders were closed and all airports in the country were shut down.
There was no chance of getting home.
I ended up alone in my house, my five housemates all managed to go home sooner than me and the only option I had was to wait.
I remember I started to cry because I thought I wouldn’t be able to go home, and when the situation worsens, I would be staying longer at my house in Sunderland all alone.
I contacted the Slovak Embassy and I waited for a week until they got back to me to say they had arranged escape buses which we could use to get home.
It was Friday and the bus was leaving on Monday morning from London.
I had to pack my suitcase and put all my belongings into boxes which I then left in the house.
I travelled down to London on Sunday at 11pm and I arrived in Slovakia on Tuesday March 31 at 9pm.
The journey wasn’t easy. It took almost two days and I travelled by bus and ferry through six countries.
During the whole journey, we had to wear surgical masks as it is mandatory to wear masks in Slovakia, and when we crossed the borders I still didn’t know where I was going.
When you come back from foreign countries, you have to spend 14 days in state quarantine wherever the Slovak government decide to put you.
We travelled from one side of the country to the other with a police escort, in a convoy of three buses with more than 200 people on board.
When I wrote this, it was my fifth day in a state quarantine and I couldn’t even leave my room. The day before they had tested me for COVID-19 and I had to wait 48 hours for the results.
If my results were negative, I could finally go home where to finish the rest of my time in quarantine.
Staying in a state quarantine was not the worst experience, even though the place I was staying in was not in the best condition.
The things I really missed were my friends, my work and coffee.
I missed that not being in Sunderland anymore and now I will probably not have a proper graduation in July, as I was dreaming of having from day one at university.
I never ever imagined I would spend time writing my final year fashion project and finishing my assignments on editorial styling and ethics in state quarantine as a pandemic spreads around the whole world.
Even though it’s not easy, I think it’s very important to keep your mindset positive and try to use every moment you have effectively. Even if you’re far away from your family and from a boyfriend who you have no idea when you will see again.
I hope the virus will be gone soon and we will be back to our normal lives sooner than we expected.
My top tips for how to survive when you’re in quarantine:
- Breathe and be kind to yourself. This tough time will end soon and you will be stronger than ever before.
- Read the online magazines and books that you bought months ago but haven’t had time to read.
- Exercise. I’ve been exercising almost every day and it is something that keeps me positive and makes me feel better. I recommend workouts from MadFit. She is amazing and has a lot of flat-friendly workouts, HIIT workouts, yoga and many more.
- Learn something new. Try to sew or learn a new language. Learn something you always wanted to learn but you didn’t have time.
- Indulge yourself. Do facials at home, have a bath, listen to relaxing music.
UPDATE: Barbora tested negative for Coronavirus and was allowed to return home to her family on April 7th.