On the repatriation trip to South Africa, we were told that we had to quarantine at a government facility once we landed, but when we arrived at the airport, things turned out differently. The government facility they had planned to put us in was full because of the South African Nationals repatriation flight the previous day.
The other travelers and I had to remain at the airport for at least 7 hours to find out what we were going to do. Since the government couldn’t host all 250 people, my exchange program agency decided to take me along with 13 other exchange students to a private quarantine facility in Johannesburg, and that’s where we spent a week and a few days while waiting for our test results.
We were staying at a really nice and equipped hotel. Each one of us was assigned a room with a bathroom, two beds, and a kitchen. To me it didn’t feel like quarantine at all and I loved every moment of it. We were served delicious meals and the staff was just so kind and professional. They handled us with caution, as we were waiting to see if we had the virus, but at the same time they treated us as normal people and made us feel comfortable.
What I loved most was getting together with my fellow exchange students as well as my lovely coordinator. My coordinator made everything possible for us; she even volunteered to quarantine with us at the facility, leaving her family behind. We went outside each day to do tik-tok videos and to play some socially distant games. We even had special dress up days: all-blackout day, Halloween, and a day where we would wear our American school items we owned.
During this time, I’ve found myself wondering where humanity has gone. We can’t share hugs or handshakes, we can’t see many people face to face — things are seeming to take a turn for the worst. But from this marvelous experience I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to look a little harder and you’ll find the light.
This time in quarantine taught me to be grateful for all I have and appreciate where I am in life. While being quarantined to see if we had the coronavirus seems awful, not everything bad is toxic. I spent time with wonderful people and had great service, plus we all tested negative and were then able to come home. It was overall an awesome experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.