Is #corona keeping you away from your home country, family and friends?

We talked a lot last year about leaving your home country and making a life abroad.
In these times, one really feels part of the world as a whole, yet our deep attachments don’t change.

I am in Brussels, and now unable to travel to see and be with my family, all of which is in Romania. The borders all over Europe and beyond are closing, and it is possible that nobody will be traveling anymore in the next months. Other Brussels friends whose families and businesses are in their home countries, are also coping and find themselves at the mercy of phone and Internet connections.

In my case, I was used to seeing family every two months, and most of my close friends remain there (@georgiana_b, @ponyo and @alex_stef among others <3). We keep in touch by reassuring warm messages and sharing advice. Thanks to @Matthias, I can advise my mom on how to make their own disinfectant with this WHO approved recipe. When no disinfectant or alcohol is available in our nearby shops, people like @alberto buy ethanol in bulk online and offer to share some! This makes one feel lucky, above all.

I happen to have a solid partner in Brussels, but I can only imagine that these times are hardly good for hooking up with new people? Is love life in the times of corona suffering too?

The strangest thing is to follow two communities of which you belong to, all at once: numbers coming in from both Belgium and Romania affect me just as much, but it is only in one place that I can actually do something, as small as it is.

What are you doing to keep yourself busy and feel useful?

I follow and share Belgian news regarding support for freelancers
The government offers to lower the taxes for social contributions for the first two quarters of 2020. If you need this - read more about it here: in French or in Dutch

I try to buy as local as possible, from the smaller shops rather than supermarkets.
Seeing people queue up outside of local health stores was a strong reminder of the communist times when every day you’d have to stand in line for your milk, bread and just about any food. But it’s worth doing it if you want to support your local shops. This from thebulletin.be:

Belgium’s measures against the spreading of the virus include the shutdown of cafes, bars and restaurants. Takeaways and friteries can stay open. Mong Tangton, the owner of L’Epicerie, a small sandwich bar in Ixelles, is relieved he can stay open. “No one can sit here and have a meal any more - I closed the restaurant area,” he says. Tangton underlines the importance of state intervention to help the sector. “I work alone, but some don’t. They won’t be able to pay rent and their employees. The state has to help us here.”

I practice yoga and support the teachers. The yoga room in Brussels where I usually go immediately took measures and they are now providing classes online. Most of their teachers are freelancers, so they are among the hardest hit by this crisis - we all donate for the classes to support their income. This is important because it enables us to practice solidarity and support local businesses.
You do good by doing what you love.

3 Likes

noemi

    March 17

We talked a lot last year about leaving your home country and making a life abroad.

In these times, one really feels part of the world as a whole, yet our deep attachments don’t change.

I am in Brussels, and now unable to travel to see and be with my family, all of which is in Romania. The borders all over Europe and beyond are closing, and it is possible that nobody will be traveling anymore in the next months. Other Brussels friends whose families and businesses are in their home countries, are also coping and find themselves at the mercy of phone and Internet connections.

In my case, I was used to seeing family every two months, and most of my close friends remain there (@georgiana_b, @ponyo and @alex_stef among others <3). We keep in touch by reassuring warm messages and sharing advice. Thanks to @Matthias, I can advise my mom on how to make their own disinfectant with this WHO approved recipe. When no disinfectant or alcohol is available in our nearby shops, people like @alberto buy ethanol in bulk online and offer to share some! This makes one feel lucky, above all.

I happen to have a solid partner in Brussels, but I can only imagine that these times are hardly good for hooking up with new people? Is love life in the times of corona suffering too?

The strangest thing is to follow two communities of which you belong to, all at once: numbers coming in from both Belgium and Romania affect me just as much, but it is only in one place that I can actually do something, as small as it is.

What are you doing to keep yourself busy and feel useful?

I follow and share Belgian news regarding support for freelancers

The government offers to lower the taxes for social contributions for the first two quarters of 2020. If you need this - read more about it here: in French or in Dutch

I try to buy as local as possible, from the smaller shops rather than supermarkets.

Seeing people queue up outside of local health stores was a strong reminder of the communist times when every day you’d have to stand in line for your milk, bread and just about any food. But it’s worth doing it if you want to support your local shops. This from thebulletin.be:

Belgium’s measures against the spreading of the virus include the shutdown of cafes, bars and restaurants. Takeaways and friteries can stay open. Mong Tangton, the owner of L’Epicerie, a small sandwich bar in Ixelles, is relieved he can stay open. “No one can sit here and have a meal any more - I closed the restaurant area,” he says. Tangton underlines the importance of state intervention to help the sector. “I work alone, but some don’t. They won’t be able to pay rent and their employees. The state has to help us here.”

I practice yoga and support the teachers. The yoga room in Brussels where I usually go immediately took measures and they are now providing classes online. Most of their teachers are freelancers, so they are among the hardest hit by this crisis - we all donate for the classes to support their income. This is important because it enables us to practice solidarity and support local businesses.

You do good by doing what you love.


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Hei @georgiana_b did you intend to post a comment, or thoughts of your own? For some reason they don’t appear, but you can always edit your comment and add/ delete text. Easier to do it from your browser, than from your email.

Hi @noemi, thanks for the tag, right back at ya! <3 I’m happy to know you have a support system around you now, and a remote one a tag / chat away.

Thank you for raising this topic. I’m inspired by your routine and hope to report back one of my own these days. For me, it’s mostly life as I knew it before this mess started. I’ve been working from home for a while now (years, afraid to count) and, having grown an introvert side to what usually reads as an available human ready to cheer people up, I have to admit at times this no socialisation thing feels like a relief. Like more people are living life as I am.

When considering the bigger consequences, these deep shifts are scary af. The economic implications are starting to show around me in friends, generally freelancers, NGOers or small entrepreneurs, already feeling precarious, knowing this is just the beginning. I haven’t figured out how to be a better friend to them. A close friend subtly mocked me today by reminding me how optimistic I was a few days ago by saying that this might shock the system into something else, after making visible to many the terribly flawed deep / policy design. I’m in a more sober state of mind today. The pain is coming for most of us. Not sure if the promise of a better, fairer world will be soothing enough.

I’m still in an energy saving mode trying to make sense of the shifts in my own professional agenda, while keeping close to family. Small support here and there with my neighbours, who are generally lucky enough to have family around them. Several ideas of contributing to conversations worth having, some that I feel I’ve waited long for, on systems change and public service redesign, that are both timely and tiresome to those who I could engage in conversation with. They might be just trying to stabilise first, change the world second. I’m just wondering how long (and if) that might take. How to balance something that feels like momentum with self-care and patience with oneself, first.

A recent discovery is the mindfulness grey area. I’m going at it randomly and enjoy not having a guide to “the proper ones” vs the bullshit ones. Recently attempted 10 min of app-directed yoga and enjoyed it. Will do more. Still have to structure my days and master the sense of complete uncertainty, I’d be happy to keep close and read others’ journey.

P.S. Unexpected insight: working online (calls especially) is incredibly tiring. I would have thought I’ve been working like that for years, but it’s been solitary work, generally, that I’ve enjoyed and protected as a favourable condition. Collaborating remotely is a different animal, I’m discovering. I’m looking to adapt.

2 Likes

Yes, we all feel it. And I doubt the Romanian state will be prompt to support that, or?

That’s interesting - where do you see the difference exactly, what makes for online collaboration for you?

They’re still at the stage of passing the hot potato around with vague declarations. No decisions yet, rather demands from small entrepreneurs (big ones probably have other channels) to temporarily suspend taxation, other commentators ask for a solidarity fund, others for economic support to large corporations in exchange of forbidding lay-offs… The only measure so far is to offer a daily lodging and medication support to people in quarantine.

I just remembered something called the Freelancers’ Association, will look into it since I don’t know of any forms of associative life among local freelancers.

Calls with people in different frames of mind, for one. As an empath and people pleaser, I try to compensate for the awkwardness of the new medium by investing sometimes more energy than I have for myself, feeling drained after it. I’m coming to appreciate a lot people trained in hosting, moderating, facilitating conversations online. The ones who also do the crucial work of following-up, documenting, keeping the conversation going between people who come from different experiences and with very differnt levels of commitment (or maybe just different “languages”).

Translation work, emotional work, secretarial work… a whole lotta more work now.

1 Like