Staff Corner: Michelle's little remote hamlet
Current location: Rural Dublin, Ireland
No one is free from it, COVID-19 is now a part of everyone’s lives in some capacity, whether they want it to be or not. I am part of the fortunate group that has not yet been afflicted by it (that I know of, which is why I #stayathome), nor is anyone close to me. Long may that last.
Homemade masks to wear when going out for weekly shopping.
Having said that, like everyone else in Ireland, and I’d say most of the rest of the world, I’ve suffered from stress, worry and many changes of plans because of it. The most stressful part for me personally is the job uncertainty that has come from it. I’m very, very happy in my job. Working in international education has long been my way. I took a break from it for a while, only to find my way back with the absolute certainty that helping others discover the beauty of educational travel abroad is my path. When speaking with prospective students about their goals for studying abroad, there are always a few who say “I want to live and work abroad when I graduate.” When I hear this, I always smile a bit sadly and let them dream, because for most it is a dream, as it can be a very difficult reality due to immigration restrictions. This is me now, living my dream here in Ireland, albeit with very strict immigration restrictions. Should our very dynamic world of study abroad go up in droplets due to this global crisis, as do my dreams. This is a constant concern.
But I work through it with absolute determination that our world will prevail – and I happily work on this from my home in rural Dublin with my work colleagues on the other end of whichever video conferencing software happens to be working at the minute.
A big bummer about the travel restrictions required to flatten the curve of COVID 19 are the, well, travel restrictions. Never mind the partner visits, site visits and international conferences that have all had to be cancelled for work (and that includes airfare, accommodation, in-person meetings, etc.), I had a 2.5 week holiday booked to go home to the US with my partner. I’ve not been in the US for almost two years, and it would have been his first time in the country, and we had all of the plans. They were ambitious, including visits to several different cities and states, eating ALL of the food, seeing a lot of my family and friends, and even some of his. Alas. At least we’re safe and secluded now, with only the pets and cows for company. To try to stay optimistic and feel that not all is lost from postponing the holiday, we’ve begun a culinary tour of some of the most notable American dishes, at least from where I’m from (south central Pennsylvania).
Friends from home on the other end of social media have embraced this and shared a number of recipes that are very particular to my region, settled by the Pennsylvania Dutch, so I’m excited to delve into Amish cooking (and baking!) and see what he thinks. It couldn’t hurt, right? Well…
First up was good, old-fashioned meatloaf with mashed potatoes, gravy and sweet corn (with my own twists added, of course).
Next in line were sloppy joes on homemade brioche buns.
Another aspect of all of the changes and restrictions is that all of the gyms and fitness centres have (rightfully) closed, and we’re now limited to taking personal fitness only within a 2km radius of our homes. While I’ll speak more about routine in the next blog, I am a swimmer and a walker. I walk my dog faithfully twice (or more now!) each day, and for the last year I’ve been swimming every working morning as well, so indulging in my baking hobby wasn’t overly detrimental given the amount of movement I got in each day. As movement and activities have now been restricted, so have the boundaries of the jeans. As a result this culinary tour will be detrimental in some ways, but in others I feel like I’m spreading some delicious love, as leftovers are farmed off to his workplace, which is still open, given it provides an essential service.