Junior Ethan Pinto was forced to come home from School Year Abroad (SYA) in China on January 29th due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, all over China. Ethan was studying and living in Beijing with a host family through the SYA program. The health threats were serious enough to bring him back to Chicago. Staff Writer Emilia Rose’s recent article explores the thoughts and concerns of Latin students, but Ethan has had far more first-hand experience with the matter.
“When it first kicked off, no one really cared, ” said Ethan. “Initially, I was in Beijing, so I was pretty far away from Wuhan. At first, there were 100 cases in a city of 21 million people so I wasn’t too scared for my personal health or immediate safety at the time,” he added. As the virus worsened in Beijing, so did Ethan’s concerns. “I wasn’t too scared at first, but at some point it got more serious.”
When Ethan came back to America, he self-quarantined himself at home for two weeks. “I did online school at home, but for the first week, it was just me sitting in my basement trying to figure things out.” He also added, “it sucked to leave. I wasn’t ready to go, and I wasn’t happy about it, but it needed to happen for safety reasons.” Now that he is home, Ethan has returned to school. And no, he does not have the coronavirus. “It’s not any worse than the flu. People feel concerned about it because it’s new,” but in his opinion, “no one should be alarmed in America.”
Ethan’s plan moving forward was to finish the semester at SYA Italy. But considering the current coronavirus outbreak in Italy, those plans have been delayed. “It’s slightly concerning that Coronavirus is in Italy just because I’ve already seen how fast it can get out of hand,” Ethan explained. “SYA already told us not to book tickets to Rome yet because of how quickly things are escalating.” Since the virus is completely unpredictable, Ethan does not know if he will go to Italy at this point.
Although his year abroad has been set back due to the coronavirus, he still expresses gratitude and thankfulness for the experience he met in China. “My favorite part of the experience and what I will miss most was the food and my host family. They were amazing and invited me to come back,” he shares. Ethan has been able to focus on the positive aspects during a time when it is easy to be negative and make assumptions. “I feel like China taught me that I can make my home wherever I want to. If you are thinking about SYA, do it. It’s a great experience,” concluded Ethan.
Welcome home, Ethan, and thank you for sharing your experience.