Vacation at the Start of a Pandemic

Vacation at the Start of a Pandemic

Every spring semester college students across the United States buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and pack their backs in preparation for the best week of the year. Spring break is a time where students get to take off and party. It allows students to release all of the stress they have been dealing with since the beginning of the semester and make memories that will last a lifetime.

But this year spring break has been very different. 

Coronavirus came and tried to take away spring break for college students all over. But these students’ spring breaks were early enough where they were still able to have a good time. Gabriella Silva, Marissa Verdi are two college students that have experienced different journeys one their spring break vacations during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gabriella Silva, a sophomore at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, got her bags all packed and ready to leave for Puerto Rico with her family on Feb. 28, 2020. During the month of February, Coronavirus was still very new to the United States and not many cases were recorded just yet. Silva and her family had planned this trip four months prior to the date they left. At this time, airports were still open and Americans were still able to travel wherever they pleased. 

“I did not think that this would be as serious as it has become.”

Considering Silva and her family had left so early before the pandemic hit its peak they only took a few precautions while traveling, things such as wearing their facemasks wiping things down and washing their hands, there wasn’t really much authority to do anything else at that time. While walking through the airport Silva seemed to notice that no other travelers were really taking any precautions. 

“No other traveler seemed to be concerned at the time.”

When Silva and her family arrived in Puerto Rico, they stayed at their apartment complex, residents do not stay there all year round so they did not really have to worry about coming into contact with as many people, especially because her spring break was so early.

During the week, Silva and her family went to bars, restaurants, shopping centers and beaches. 

Although it was only there were not many cases in the United States at the time due to how early it was, Silva still had some paranoia about coming into contact with the virus, the last thing she wanted was for her and her family to get sick. She was relieved to know that due to the humidity and heat the virus did not have a very high chance of living there. 

“There was a chance of us getting the virus however, we were blessed to not come into contact with it.”

Marissa Verdi, sophomore at Marywood University, Philidalphea was the next spring breaker that packed her bags and was ready to head off to Jamaica with her three close friends. Verdi left for Jamaica on March 8 when things were still kind of new. This turned into a vacation she would never forget. 

Verdi only planned on staying in Jamaica for four days. She would be back at her school by March 12. Before leaving for vacation everything was still normal, her school was still on a regular schedule and she did not get any emails advising her to not go on her trip. While in the airport Verdi and her friends were sanitizing everything and taking as many precautions as possible to make sure they didn’t carry the disease, especially into another country that had no cases at the time.

When Verdi and her friends arrived at their destination they realized there were actually a lot of people vacationing at the time, they even met some students from Alabama that were on their spring break as well. There were about three other groups of spring breakers, two wedding parties and a lot of families. 

In the beginning of her vacation, Verdi and her friends got an email stating that her school was closed for an extra week, like most college students at the time they didn’t think anything of it. She was actually happy that she had an extra week to decompress after a fun packed vacation.

Verdi and her friends decided to enjoy Jamaica as best as they could, she was in vacation mode and ready to party, until the third day (last day) of her vacation where her school notified her that they were going to cancel the rest of the school year. 

The girls instantly turned on the news channel in the room and the first thing they saw was that the United States was in a state of emergency.

“That’s when it sank in, that things were getting serious,” said Verdi

The girl’s parents were calling them and warning them to be as careful as they can. At this point, Verdi just wanted to go home and be safe. She was nervous to be around people, the anxiety started to kick in when she was packing to go home. She then realized that her and her friends would have to travel from another country in a state of emergency.

It was time for Verdi to put on her mask and gloves and get on the plane.

The anxiety started to get worse, as Verdi was on the plane the world outside started looking orange to her. Thoughts started to race through Verdis mind. 

“What’s going to happen when I get back?”

The flight landed and it was time for Marissa to face the reality of a pandemic. Verdi was holding her breath as she waited in line for customs. She was then told that she had to go on the other side. Verdi was separated from her friends and was waiting in a line full of people coming from all over the world. When it was her turn for her bags to be checked, security didn’t even look at her bag instead they asked her questions about her health, if she had a fever or any symptoms that could potentially mean she had the virus. Verdi said no and was reunited with her friends. 

When she went back to school it seemed like it was a ghost town, all her friends that weren’t on vacation had already left and went home. She packed up all of her things and headed back home to Long Island with her sister. They have not left home for over two months.

“I wouldn’t necessarily regret going because we didn’t know the intensity of the situation until we were about to leave. I am just happy me, my family and friends are all safe.”