by Freya McCall
I CONTACTED Lea Moyon, a French teenager living in Northern France, and Claudia Sancho, a university student, who lives in Bilbao, Spain to find out how this crisis has affected their countries and general life.
Lea and Claudia have both enjoyed visiting Langholm several times in the past.
I asked them how life had changed for them during the crisis.
Lea said: “The main change is that schools are closed so I have to study for my exams by myself and my brother Baptiste’s exams have been cancelled.
“My brother and I used to go to our friends’ houses a lot and now we obviously can’t go anymore.
“We were doing sports like running, swimming, fencing and horse riding and now we are not allowed to do them anymore.”
Claudia said: “My father, the owner of a small company, had to close his shops and my mother and my brother telework at home. I am receiving university classes via videocalls. “In Spain Easter is a time for vacations, good weather, travel and tourism. We had planned a small trip but we had to cancel.
“The coronavirus crisis has had an impact on the hotel, tourism and leisure sector in Spain.
“It is important to note the cultural shock which isolation has had on the Spanish people. We have a deep-rooted feeling of community and this situation has separated us.”
Are your countries under a strict lockdown?
Lea said: “France is under lockdown but we don’t have a curfew where I live. If we go out, we have to testify we are doing only necessary shopping. Otherwise, we have to pay a fine.”
Claudia replied: “The government decreed a state of alert on Saturday, March 14. “Educational activities at all levels were suspended and a state of confinement was
imposed on everybody. “Shops, bars and restaurants were closed and any type of sport, cultural or social gathering was prohibited.
“Two weeks later all non-essential activities were stopped and now only shops like supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals are allowed.
“The Spanish government has approved a rule to locate all citizens and check by mobile phone whether a citizen is where he declares to be.”
How are you coping being away from friends?
Lea said: “My brother and I are doing Facetime with our friends. We also send each other funny videos or pictures.”
How do you think young people in particular are responding to the pandemic?
Lea replied: “I think that in France and also other places in the world young people realise it’s important to respect the lockdown and rules in place to stop the pandemic as soon as we can. “But some people still don’t realise how dangerous it can be for them and their families to go outside and meet people. Some don’t respect the rules and that’s really a shame.”
What activities are you doing to pass the time?
Lea said: “During the day we have schoolwork. After that, we do some sports in our garden, like table tennis and dancing.
“We watch Netflix, read, cook dinner or do homework. We hope we’ll be able to use our pool soon because it’s getting warmer.”
Claudia added: “I spend my time studying and doing university tasks.
“I also spend a lot of time with family, exercising, watching films, cooking. My friends and I find ways to meet through video call and talk while drinking a beer together, like we would normally do.
Every day at 8pm everyone claps from their windows as a sign of gratitude to all the health personnel who take care of citizens in hospitals. After the applause, our neighbours put music on and we sing.”
How important do you think communication between different communities and countries is at this time?
Claudia replied: “I think communication is crucial. We are facing a global pandemic which could change our way of living. “In my opinion, international collaboration and solidarity with the poorest countries where this virus could have even more catastrophic consequences because of their lack of resources, should be reason enough to collaborate to fight this pandemic together.”
Freya writes: “It was really interesting hearing how Lea and Claudia are coping in their respective European countries.
“We look forward to them visiting Langholm again when restrictions re lifted.