By: Ebonee Burrell | Editor in Chief
Once in a lifetime opportunities only come..well once in a lifetime. Having that opportunity snatched away from you in a matter of days can change your entire perspective on life. Julia Rainwater, a Mobile native and Junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, soon realized the reality of ‘life isn’t fair’ after the complete turn around of her semester abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After months of putting in so much work to study abroad, Rainwater finally got the approval to spend her spring semester in Florence, Italy. Not only was this one of her dream destinations, but she experienced it with her best friend that is also her roommate. With plans to explore the majority of Europe, learn the Italian Language and, of course, attend classes, there was no doubt this experience would be something she held onto forever.
Things were calm for about a month while in Italy before the Coronavirus began to become the topic of discussion. With reassurance from professors that everything was “fine” it didn’t seem to worry anyone.
One week later, Rainwater noticed most institutions notified their students that the fast-spreading virus has reached Italy and sending them back home immediately, but has yet to hear anything from her university.
With classes now scarce, there was a lot of confusion throughout the remaining few students that were still there because of the lack of communications from their home institutions, Rainwater waited for the email she soon received from her school to immediately return home and was advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“They sent the email on a Wednesday night and Friday I was on a plane back home,” Rainwater said. “It happened so quickly and it so stressful to pack four months worth of clothes overnight.”
Back at home in self-quarantine in Mobile, Alabama, Rainwater came to a realization of a new reality by making the necessary adjustments to get through this unusual time. She practiced new hobbies to pass time and had to continue her classes online.
By the time two weeks had passed, the virus quickly spread to the United States and placed the country on lockdown with several states, including Alabama, issuing “stay at home” orders for its residents. This was nothing new for Rainwater, she continued her daily quarantine routine while the rest of the country adjusted to a new normal.
“I found new music, walked laps around my pool, watched a lot of TikTok and Netflix and it wasn’t so bad because I learned a lot about myself,” Rainwater said. “I realized that I can be alone and it’s definitely OK to be alone. It’s good to have ‘me time’ and do things like listen to a podcast or clean out your closet.”
Even though Rainwater’s study abroad experience did not go as planned, Rainwater’s disappointment is often washed away with the thought of being healthy back at home with her family while living in their new normal.
“I’m just so glad that things happened the way it did, because if we would’ve stayed a few days longer then we probably would’ve been trapped in the country,” she said. “It important for everyone to know that this pandemic is something that should be taken very seriously.”