Photo: Nina Berger

CORRESPONDENT: My journal as an Italian student in the times of the coronavirus.


When the Italian government announced on February 23th the closure of universities and schools for a week in areas where coronavirus was most spread, a sigh of relief rose from Bologna, the city where my university is located. Freedom! Nothing more to do than go for an aperitivo with friends. When the suspension was prolonged week by week, the sighs of relief turned into sighs of resignation. 

My university has created an excellent system for remote lessons in a very short time: there is no escape from the teachers, even in our houses. Every day, at the scheduled time of the lesson, the students connect with the professor through a platform managed by the university. The lesson takes place almost normally, with the professor speaking and possibly showing slides and students who can interact with him through a chat.

But our life completely changed this last weekend: the government imposed the closure of schools and universities throughout Italy until April 3rd and the limitation of travel if not for proven reasons. In the past weeks, many people and many students underestimated the impact of the spread of coronavirus, but now things have changed.

Io resto a casa (I stay at home)

The biggest change in our life is that we are strongly discouraged from leaving home. The reason for this severe limitation is the attempt to limit the spread of the virus to safeguard those weaker sections of society. For students, this means limiting social interactions, which involves taking lessons through the computer and closing all pubs. 

The computer-based lesson system certainly gives students more time, especially commuters like me. I admit that it is not bad to get up at 8.30 am for the 9 am lesson, which can be followed by wearing pyjamas and drinking an espresso. It is tempting to be able to finally tackle that pile of books on the bedside table or spend time on Netflix, so a lot of willpower and discipline are needed to follow the lessons.

But after the first week of online lessons and after a few days without friends, I start to feel a sense of loneliness. Lecturing at home is certainly comfortable, but it certainly cannot replace the human interactions that take place in university classrooms. In your room, you miss the comments with friends and the discussions with the teachers that we take for granted during the lessons.

Your home, your life

During these days I learned to have a new relationship with my house. Before all of this, it was a place of relief and distraction, a place to return to. Now it’s the place where my whole day takes place. I can order food, exercise, sleep, talk to friends without even walk out the door. This makes me think. Despite the enormous potential that we have in the device through which you read this article, nothing can ever replace human relationships. Nothing can ever replace a hug or a handshake, which is prohibited for us today.

I feel the weight of responsibility for my actions as a citizen. Luckily today it is possible to help in a very easy way: you don’t have to leave the house. Many young people are mobilizing to sensitize their peers. On Instagram, awareness campaigns are emerging from the most followed influencers, so I am confident that the situation will be resolved for the better. We do not yet know how long the limitations will continue, but in the meantime, it will be important to take the best of this situation. And to you in Norway, I say: be careful and wash your hands!

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