[Photo: Dirisio in happier times, on trip. via: @haeleydirisio]
Italy has been struggling with the worst outbreak of COVID-19 outside of Asia, and earlier this week they put their entire northern region under a quarantine to help combat the virus.
Skedline alumni Haeley Dirisio graduated in 2019 and arrived in Italy six months ago, planning to stay in Florence as an au pair. She is currently, at time of writing, trapped in the country…
Madi Cyr talked to Dirisio about the unnerving experience.
Skedline (SK): Can you describe what it’s been like under the quarantine?
Haeley Dirisio (HD): I’m gonna send voice clips cuz I’m lonely lol.
SK: okay! Sounds good!
HD: Oh wait, it’s dictation so it will type for me. Lol. So yeah, basically it’s been super lonely, my roommate – she’s been gone for a month now – she was supposed to come home, but because of the quarantine she’s staying in Pakistan.
The only things open are grocery stores and pharmacies, as of two days ago. I think we’re allowed to go for walks, but they say stay in your house as much as possible. There’s a hashtag going around: #iostoacasa, meaning ‘I stay at home.’
SK: And how are you feeling, personally?
HD: Personally, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but I think if I had to do it for another three weeks – like, until April 3 or whatever – I would probably lose my mind, so I’m hoping my flight doesn’t get cancelled on Sunday. [March 15]
SK: How did you manage to get a flight out?
HD: This past Monday I booked a flight in the afternoon just before Italy, as a whole, was on lockdown, and it was a Delta flight with Air France. Both Air France and Delta (I think) have cancelled flights throughout Italy, so my flight from Florence to Paris was cancelled.
BUT! my connection from Paris to Toronto was not, so I booked a flight with Alitalia that goes from Florence to Rome to Paris and then I’ll stay the night in Paris and fly home with my original flight – from Paris to Toronto – still with Delta/Air France.
SK: Well good to know you’ll be home soon! What was it like when the quarantine first came down?
HD: So first, my Italian school shut down where I’m taking my Italian language course, and I was a bit worried then. And then the quarantine happened in the north of Italy and things started to quiet down in the streets here, the American students were sent home, and then the whole of Italy was on quarantine and I really started freaking out.
I was on the phone with my mom, like my heart was racing and I just really wanted to come home.
I was supposed to be living here until June, so technically I could stay, but with my school shut down, I don’t have a job at the moment, so there’s really no point in me being here all alone and just waiting it out.
Who knows if it’ll even get better!
SK: How has your family been through all of this?
SK: What made you decide to stay?
HD: I wanted to wait it out and see if it would get better. My friends and I weren’t really freaked out. I came here to live for six months, and I didn’t want to give up on it, but now it’s not really giving up as much as it is being almost forced to leave.
SK: When did you first start thinking like: ‘I want to get out of here.’
HD: When I heard everyone from the north had taken trains to the south on Sunday night, and I knew the situation was about to take an absolute turn for the worst, which it did.
SK: What do you think of the Italian government’s handling of the situation?
HD: I think they are really trying their best to stop the spread of the virus. They’re the first major outbreak outside of China, so obviously some mistakes will be made, but hopefully this lockdown will help.
That’s all we can hope for. The hospitals are really full here so it was a measure they had to take.
SK: Can you compare that at all to the Canadian government?
HD: I watched Justin Trudeau speak just a little while ago and it seems like Canada is taking similar measures but being more proactive … but Canada is also much bigger and people are more spread out. Italy has a massive elderly population so they play a part in the spreading of the virus, too.
SK: Is there anything else that you think is important to include/talk about?
HD: I just want to add that this virus is very contagious and – as Trudeau said – it’s important to self quarantine if you are feeling sick to protect those who are vulnerable around us!
And tell Siobhan ‘hi’ for me if you see her, and that I miss her.
SK: Will do! I’m sure she’ll love to hear it. Best of luck!
Keep up with Haeley on her Twitter: @haeleydirisio.
PLEASE NOTE: Humber College has chosen to cancel classes for the week of Mar 16 until Mar 20 in response to the virus. Find more information at Humber.ca/updates.
Due to limited phone access, this interview took place over Twitter, and has been lightly edited.
UPDATE: MAR 27 1:57PM EDT: Dirisio landed back in Canada on MAR 23. To listen to Skedline reporter Madi Cyr catch up with her, click: HERE.
UPDATE: MAR 13 2:55PM EDT: Dirisio’s flight to Paris was cancelled.
UPDATE: MAR 12 5:19PM EDT: Added some supplemental information. (Date of graduation, location in Italy and time of arrival.)