Planes and Pandemics: Moving Internationally During Covid-19

The plan was this: Finish our Southeast Asia adventure on March 25, spend two weeks visiting friends in Seattle and Vancouver, arrive in Philadelphia on April 6, and fly to Ireland on May 8. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But we cut our trip short, headed straight to my parents’ in Philly, and spent three months hanging out, going for walks in the park, and catching up on Netflix, Steve’s 90-day visa-free allowance in the States was up so he headed back to Ireland.

I was meant to stay an extra month, see my sister, and then join him, but rumours began to fly that the EU would implement a ban on travellers from high-risk countries. Although I would qualify for an exemption that should have allowed me entry, I didn’t want to chance it and end up stuck for the foreseeable future, so on the 24th of June I booked my flight from JFK to Dublin for just a few days later, and on the 28th I was off. This is what it was like to fly internationally during the pandemic.

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Worldwide friends, again and again

I’ve been lucky in my life to make some amazing, close friends. I’ve never been someone with a big social circle, and being terrible at keeping in touch means that I don’t stay connected to many acquaintances, but I have a few friends from every place that I’ve lived who I know I will always be close to even if sometimes we don’t see each other (or even talk!) for years on end. I’ve also been lucky enough to have seen two of those close, best friends (two of my flatmates from Ireland) here in New Zealand (their partners are kiwis) and my very best friend and her husband came for a visit last month.

Still, even if I know I have these amazing friends I can count on to be there for me across thousands of miles and months or years apart, moving the number of times I have in the last few years means that I am in a constant state of making new acquaintances and hopefully new friends. For an introvert who has struggled with shyness all her life, this can be tough, especially in places notorious for their difficulty in creating non-superficial relationships (see also: the “Seattle freeze“).

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