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Vienna: Strangers becoming home


Dear neighbors,

If you have a weak immune system or are over 65 years old, I would like to help you stay healthy. I do not belong to Corona’s risk group and could help you by running errands (medication, etc) or shopping.

Just put a note on my door or in my mailbox or call me.

[phone number, address]

Love Emily

"We are living in challenging times, it is a time where it is crucial to stay together mainly to protect the elderly of our country..." Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Chancellor 13.03.20

How contradictory is it to express human union when severe measures of social distancing are implemented? The uncertainty of knowing that just meeting with someone is a threat to your health and that of others. How do I learn to live with the basics, with what is necessary, with myself?

14 days seem to be enough to ask yourself a sea of unanswered questions, they also seem to be enough to drive you crazy within your four walls and although they seem to be enough to delay the spread and control the disease a little, they are not enough to learn to live with social distance. However, they are also more than enough to reflect, to reassure and to remind us that we are millions of people in this together. That, while social distancing must be implemented, there is no reason not to be united in spirit, in strength, in neighborliness. I have never lived a situation like this, never in my life have I even considered not being able to go out one day, not being able to go to school, not being able to meet my friends. Yet here we are, and it is now that when you least expect it and being so far away from your family, doors that you have not seen open and faces that you have not seen smile before emerge all of a sudden and are small reminders that together we are stronger, that even though times are uncertain and challenging all you need is a sign on your building that makes you feel a warm and fraternal embrace.

Today, after 3 years of living in Vienna, I feel more at home than ever and am grateful to see that circumstances bring out the best in us too. Be kind to one another and remember that this too shall pass.

Story and photo shared by Ana, a Mexican (urban studies) student in Vienna.

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