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Studying abroad during a pandemic

We should have known something was wrong.
I was at Plaza de España with my study abroad roommate, Hallie Hoch. It was a beautiful, sunny day, yet the usually bustling plaza–one of the most popular tourist sites in Sevilla–was eerily vacant.
There was one flamenco dancer with an empty tip jar. We took some photos and then headed back to our host home for lunch.

3 p.m. Friday, March 13. Sevilla, Spain.

We were greeted by our host mom as we walked in the door. Worry creased the lines of her forehead. “España ha declarado un estado de alarma.” 
At that moment, COVID-19 ended my semester abroad in Sevilla.
The near future was spinning out of control as Spain declared a state of emergency. My host family had become family to me, but now I worried about getting home.
We gathered around the TV to await President Pedro Sanchez’s announcement. In our panic, we moved as close as we could, as if being close would somehow make it more real. As we waited I dialed American Airlines. 
The automated voice warned of a high volume of calls and suggested I call back later. Click.
My heart and imagination raced. Would the borders close immediately? Would the police be in the streets tonight? Would we be allowed to leave Spain? Would it still be an option to call back later?

Time to go

We already knew our time in Sevilla was ending early. We had booked flights home for Thursday, March 19 after President Donald Trump announced a travel ban on March 11.
But just the day before, life was normal. We attended our classes, walked by the river with friends and rode the metro. That time was gone.
The house fell silent when President Pedro Sanchez appeared on screen and began speaking. He announced a two-week, nation-wide quarantine, closed all non-essential businesses and only permitted citizens to leave their homes to go to the pharmacy or grocery store.
An app I had installed on my phone to help me document my time abroad sent a notification.
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