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Sara White about her experience during the "Coronavirus" outbreak

My name is Sara, we moved from New Zealand to Monza in July last year, as my husband came here to work (when Haier acquired a local appliance maker, Candy). We brought three of our four children with us, all school age. They were all enrolled in the International school together (one of the reasons we chose Monza to live). We have no family here, and our friends are the ones we have made through school and work. I am a nurse, but so far am unable to work here in Italy (still awaiting my Permesso di Soggiorno). We moved from our house in the wide open spaces of country New Zealand, to the compact apartment in the busy and historic city of Monza. We knew there would be challenges and change, and adventure. That is what we have found.

As the covid-19 virus has taken hold, we have counted many of our blessings. Being ex-pats means that we already had a little “kiwi” Bubble here in our apartment. We are used to relying on each other, and we get along pretty well (well, mostly). Our children (Miss 11 years, Mr 15 years and Miss 18 years), were able to carry on with their schooling (on-line), with only 1 day off. This has kept them focused on their learning and their future, which has been so very helpful. My husband can work from home, so we do not have to worry about how to pay the bills (whew). My new normal is actually very pleasant. I get up at 7.00, in that small window when the world is my own (as the rest of the household sleeps). Instead of my usual run, I have started daily yoga (through Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube). This will definitely continue, as I find it really sets up my day. I then do my usual Duolingo exercises (a great app for learning a language), to help keep up my emerging Italiano. I wake the younger children and by 9.00 they are all breakfasted and logged in to their lessons. I bake each day, so they have something to snack on (and I actually like to bake). I have discovered some delicious American recipes (I recommend Snickerdoodles!). Then I check the neighbour’s cat (they are currently staying put in Spain). Brushing him also helps to give me a routine, and reminds me that life does go on. The cat doesn’t care about all the doom and gloom on the TV, he just likes to be fed and brushed. Then we have lunch and the afternoon seems to fly by. Facebook has been the source of much amusement for me, with my family and friends in NZ wanting to keep in contact, now more than ever. Connecting with people online through Facetime, Messenger, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams, has kept me sane, and reminded me of the life that will return. After “school” my children connect with their friends though the internet. They always did this with their friends outside of Italy, so now they do it with all of their friends. Dinner is prepared by my husband (a much better cook than I), and we settle down together to watch a movie. We are working through our favourites (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc).

Our apartment feels safe. Jon goes to the supermarket twice per week to provide us with what we need, and I’m always interested in how it is “out there”, what the feeling is on the street.

Now New Zealand is also in lockdown, the threat of this virus seems more real. We worry about our families back home. We decided not to go home (when it was possible), as we knew this would pass, and we were committed to our life here in Italy. Now we could not return, even if we wanted to. We are all in this together, wherever we call home. For us, we are healthy, and together as a family. In the end, that is all that really matters. (That, and coffee. We miss our cappuccino e brioche. Something to look forward to once this passes.

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