Living abroad in times of Corona - Brill’s stories Part 1: Elisa Perotti

This is what I like to say to those who ask about my situation. I have lived in the Netherlands for some years now, a few hundred kilometers away from my origins. Not a big deal, in ordinary days, with the freedom of movement that Schengen grants. It takes me a couple of hours by plane, it’d take around a dozen hours by car.

But these days aren’t ordinary days.

As I followed the outbreak in northern Italy, I saw the emergency coming from far, like a long steady wave flooding over entire Europe. I was supposed to travel to Piedmont in March, but I was unable to do so and it would not have been a responsible thing to do.

At first there was confusion. Then apprehension kicked in. Then came acceptance.

Even though I tend to be allergic to picking up my phone – its ringtone is mostly off – I must admit I am lucky to live in the internet era! I can and I do talk to my family and friends basically every day, to bring them the feeling of normality that they miss. We exercise together online, we discuss politics, chitchat, complain, and make plans. I am concerned about them all, of course, but I do not want to worry. I trust they will do their best to keep everyone safe, as I am doing here in the place I have chosen as my new home.

“I miss the mountains sometimes, here in the Netherlands. When that happens, I simply pretend that they are hidden by the thick clouds on the horizon. It is a lie, but heart does not know.”

I like to define myself as Piedmontese by birth, Italian by passport, European in mindset, and cosmopolitan at heart. Sometimes I feel as if I were caught in between two worlds, especially when I see the manipulative attempt of certain newspapers in Italy to shed a bad light on the Netherlands, after clashing on economic provisions. It is frustrating to be able to understand perfectly both views and to not be able to do something about it.

I know that times are complicated for everyone, everywhere – and still I consider myself blessed to be where I am, despite all difficulties.

So, let me say, so far so good here. Let’s keep it like that.
And stay safe you all!