Spain — one of the nations most affected by the coronavirus pandemic — began a government-ordered nationwide lockdown on March 14, 2020. Southern graduate Victoria Conde, ’17, a native of Madrid, is among those quarantining to slow the spread of the disease. At Southern, Conde was an international transfer student who majored in exercise science and aptly demonstrated her fighting spirit playing soccer for the Owls. Now pursuing graduate studies in sports ethics and integrity at KU Leuven University in Belgium, she recently reached out to Southern via email to talk about life in Spain during the pandemic.
1. What is it like in Spain right now, with stricter quarantine orders?
It seems like in Spain we have reached our peak, so the measurements taken (on March 14th) are showing that it was the right thing to do: only essential workers are allowed outside, like health care, army or workers from supermarkets. Only people who have dogs can go for a short walk (and I have two cats!), and when shopping at the supermarket we have to buy food for days to avoid going often (my family is shopping twice a week, and just one person can go). Most people understand that we have to follow these instructions but many people were caught traveling to their summer homes and were fined by the police.
2. Can you explain some of those traditions, what the people are doing on a regular basis there now to stay positive?
There is only so much we can do from home (note that all these things we are doing were started by the people and not the government):
- Every night at 8pm people start an applause from their balconies or windows for a few minutes to stop and thank the doctors and nurses that are working non-stop. They chose this time to include kids before bedtime (the first time this happened was at 9pm but social media did the magic to change this into 8pm daily).
- Also, other staff like police or firefighters are showing up to the hospitals at night and turning their sirens on to thank the health staff.
- People are volunteering to shop for the elderly in their neighborhoods.
- People are making equipment from home to donate to hospitals and residences for the elderly, and others are collecting money to buy this equipment and donate it.
- Health care staff are sending videos saying thank you for staying home (and for the applause).
- Many Spanish artists started to participate in an online festival (@yomequedoencasafestival), and we could watch them live from home.
- The “anthem” for the past weeks has been “Resistiré” from El duo dinámico (from 1988), and some Spanish artists released a new version (from home).
- A very funny one: someone from a private residential complex runs a work out from the common patio so everyone could join from their balconies, and some others have been playing bingo with their neighbors from their balconies.
3. What have you been doing to stay healthy and pass the time?
First thing I did was get rid of my agenda and understood that all my plans for the next few months were over. I was studying abroad in Belgium and I decided to fly home and stay with my parents in Madrid. They were coming to visit me, but we were in lockdown so I went grocery shopping that day and added some Belgian stuff to the basket. We pretended we were in Belgium that day! I also stay busy with online classes and homework, and working out from home.
4. What advice would you give to Southern students?
I would say to take advantage of this situation to do all the things that you never had time to do, whether that means spending some time alone or with your family. I highly recommend this time to try something new that makes your day challenging and your brain to keep working!
5. What have you been seeing that is giving you so much hope?
The situation in Spain is very similar to Italy, we are two weeks behind, so seeing how everything was slowly improving in Italy was a good reason to stay optimistic. My mom works at the hospital and she has been the most reliable source to understand how the situation was going. The storm is passing!
6. What hobbies/activities have you started doing?
I have been reading, cooking and watching Netflix, trying to stay away from the news. I already did those things before but my time was limited. I am also doing some coloring because it is therapeutic, and playing some FIFA. I am also in touch with my friends via video calls, and I created a presentation simulating a game (That’s you from PS4) to play with them and it was very fun.
7. You talked about cooking, reading, and Netflix. So far what’s been your best recipe, book, and show?
I made vegan burgers just to try something new because my sister is vegan and they were very good actually! I am now reading Sapiens: From animals into Gods, and I just finished watching Money Heist on Netflix (the best Spanish TV show ever!).
8. What are some of your favorite/least favorite parts about spending so much time at home?
I am enjoying spending time with my parents and cooking for them. They are both great cooks so I get to learn from them. I am missing making plans with my friends and just walking outside. I do not have a backyard so all the fresh air that I get comes through a window in a third floor apartment.
9. How did you feel about the transition to online classes at first/how are you liking it now?
It took my classmates and our professors a few days to master it, and I would much rather have them in class, but it is working for us, we still get to interact with everyone and get the important content.
10. How are you dealing psychologically with so much time indoors?
I am trying to keep a routine. I get things done in the morning like working out and doing some school work to keep the afternoon for leisure. I have a list with little things to do after the quarantine. I also reach out often to friends and family members who work in hospitals, supermarkets or any job involved and send a special thank you to them.
Local media coverage on Conde:
“Spanish SCSU grad on coronavirus: ‘It’ll get worse before it gets better’” (New Haven Register, April 10, 2020)