Dangerous road back home to Italy

A foreign exchange student from NHS had to return to Italy in the middle of the coronavirus crisis


provided by Mia Paladino

Foreign exchange student Daria Garau returned back home to Italy early due to COVID-19.

   Italian foreign exchange student Daria Garau, junior, was attending Nixa High School while staying with Mia Paladino and her family, but had to return to Cagliari, Italy, two months early due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Italy has endured more than 20,000 deaths due to the virus, so going back home was dangerous and intimidating. 

   “She returned home on April 1st due to the coronavirus,” Paladino, junior, said. “Initially her parents would have let her stay because it was safer here, but when they started closing flights they decided it was time for her to come home.”

   Paladino is a part of the family that took care of Garau while she was in the states. There were only two flights available for Garau to return home, so they made a quick move. 

   “Fortunately everything went fine at the airports, I was just under a lot of stress and pressure, also because I was alone for the most part,” Garau said. “None of my flights got canceled so it was better than expected but emotionally awful.”

   Paladino had one fear for her friend having to travel back home: “The fact that there is a higher chance for her to contract the virus due to the amount of cases there and the fast spreading,” Paladino said.

   Countries, like the United States, were ending flights quickly in order to stop the spread of the virus, but gave visitors like Garau a chance to return home. Airports are one of the most dangerous places to be at in a crisis of contagious disease considering people from all over are stuck in one place. 

   “I was honestly worried to catch the coronavirus in all those airports, but I was worried to transmit it to my parents and not about myself,” Garau said.

   None of Garau’s loved ones have contracted the disease and neither has she. Italy has placed intense lockdown rules in order to control the spread–which is working. 

  “I personally think in America people are taking it less seriously because they don’t have as many restrictions as we do in Italy, so people keep going out and just keep spreading the virus,” Garau said. “Being on lockdown is not fun but I think it made people realize how big of a deal the virus is.”

   Due to the lockdown, Garau had not been able to visit friends and family — besides her parents — that she hadn’t seen since leaving for America in August. Her friends back in Nixa missed her greatly as well.

   “[Garau] and I are, and forever will be, sisters,” Paladino said. “That is the bond we have established over the several months she has been here. We act like normal sisters would, we laugh together, we cry together, we fight each other.”

   While in Italy, Garau was stuck not being able to visit those in her city or back in America. 

   “I definitely miss all my friends and seeing my family every day and not through FaceTime,” Garau said. “I also miss the freedom that I don’t have here because we have more restrictions due to the coronavirus.”

   Not everyone has loved ones who have returned home through cross-country travel by airports, but there are plenty of people being affected in their hometowns. 

   “I think that all we can do in a situation like this is hope that everything will be OK and hope that [loved ones] aren’t affected by it,” Paladino said. “I also think it is very important to cherish every moment you get with them no matter how long that is.”