Lindsay Rubin - Student stories of COVID 19/Study Abroad

"Sometimes you just have to figure out how to make the best situation out of the current moment." - Lindsay Rubin

Experiences in China

Purdue sign found in the hostel we were staying in in Xi’an.

On January 22nd I travelled with three peers to Beijing for the Spring Festival. We had a fifteen day trip planned in a few cities across the country. The next morning we found out that all tourist attractions were closed due to the virus. However, most shops and restaurants in Beijing were still open. That day we got updates almost hourly that the virus was worse than originally anticipated. On January 26th we took a train to Xi’an but found only one McDonald’s open in the entire city. Every tourist attraction was closed as well as all shops and restaurants. 

We decided to cancel all our plans and head back to Shanghai. When we got back the campus was on lockdown so we had to show our ID’s to get in the gate. We had to go off campus to get food; some restaurants were open but mostly big chains. We wore masks whenever we left our room and people checked our temperature every time we entered a building. 

While the coronavirus had been allowed to spread initially in China, the government shut down the entire country in one day to stop it from spreading further. I never heard any complaining from the citizens and everyone I know made sure to do their part to follow the government regulations for their safety and the safety of others. 

After about a week of quarantine in the hotel we found out we’d be leaving the next day. After we were all packed a few of us decided to take advantage of the free time. We took the metro to the Bund and spent a few hours walking along the most famous area of Shanghai. We found a Haagen dazs that was open and got some ice cream to enjoy as we sat by the river. It was the first moment of peace we’d had since arriving in China less than a month earlier. This was the moment when it finally sunk in that I was in China, I had achieved the goal I’d set for myself in 6th grade. It was a bittersweet revelation as I remembered I would be heading home the next day. 

Experiences in the United States

When we returned to the US we were quarantined in apartments for fourteen days. In that time we had to catch up on six total weeks of missed classes. I spent the time reading hundreds of pages of textbook and doing missed homework. Different Purdue faculty members delivered us groceries and puzzles.

After we got out of quarantine we had a few weeks of normalcy before Spring Break. Right before break the coronavirus hit the US. I experienced my second government shutdown due to the outbreak. Classes went online after break. I stayed with my roommates in our apartment in Lafayette for a while until it became apparent the shut down was going to last. I am currently back at my parents’ house in Minnesota trying to stay productive. 

When the Coronavirus spread to the US the government was very slow to implement measures to stop the spread. It took a few weeks to enact a stay-at-home order and close the restaurants. Along with this, a lot of citizens have not listened to the measures. A lot of college students went on Spring Break to beaches because Florida didn’t close them for a long time. Recently there have been protests where citizens want businesses to open back up so they can get back to work. 

Enjoying ice cream on the Bund during my last day in China.

Lessons Learned

I was able to get Anakin because I have time to take care of a kitten due to quarantine. He has made the whole experience worth it.

My ability to adapt to new situations has increased and I learned that you don’t always have to have everything planned well in advance. Sometimes you just have to figure out how to make the best situation out of the current moment.

During my experience I learned how to analyze and appreciate the potential reasoning between the cultural differences I observed. China is a more collectivist culture, putting the group before the individual. In China I observed people acting to help others before themselves. Citizens listened to the quarantine measures because they believed it was the best way to stop the spread to others. To contrast, the US is more individualistic, putting the individual above the group. People do what they believe is best for them. In the US, people want to continue life as normal and work because it is better for most individuals. Covid-19 illustrated the cultural differences between the countries and helped me better understand. Because of my experience with two governments shutting down, I have a better understanding of my own culture as compared to others.