Corona in Europe: from the sight of our Erasmus partners

greetings from another world, I could say. Finland is in by far easier situation than Italy, Spain or Germany. We were lucky that the epidemic arrived here later - for once we got advantage of our remote place in a far-away corner of Europe - so the authorities could take precautions relatively early. Here are only 1300 infected people in the country and 3 dead, although the real number of infected must be much higher. Quite few people are tested, not even all with light symptoms of flu, so nobody knows what the real situation is.
Yet the life is anything but normal. The borders are closed, restaurants will be closed this week, and last weekend the govermnet decided to put the capital region to quarantine. Two-thirds of the infected live in Helsinki area, so they wanted to restrict the virus there fo as long as possible. However, people are allowed to travel to work there from "outside". Otherwise people can go around freely, but is was strongly advised to work at home if possible, avoid social contacts etc. Meetings with more than 10 people were banned, although the police is not really checking this. Still the streets are emptier - there is nowhere to go but shopping, because all the public places are more or less closed.
As for the schools... well, closing them happened very quickly. On Friday 13.3. we started weekend as usual, and on Monday the government announced that schools will be closed from Wednesday on. Only the last week of national exams went on as usual, although with another timetable to end them a few days earlier. School are closed at least until Easter, but it is clear this situation continues. Whether we go back at all, is uncertain. The school year ends on 30.5. so probably we won't.
So, we had to make up plan for teaching online very soon. We teachers can go to school for giving the lessons online, but students stay at home following the lesson and doing their tasks. There have been technical problems, but we try to solve them as soon as possible, and we have to be creative. For the students, this is just as stressful, of course.
Personally, I don't know anyone infected, but still I can't wait for the day the life is getting back to normal... and for you this must feel much worse.
Greetings, and stay healthy, Jari

Dear Susanne, wishing you health and happiness!

I am worried because  my daughter is studying in Lancaster University, the UK and my husband works in London. Both of them are there now. The Bulgarian Prime Minister advises all Bulgarian citizens not to travel and stay where they are . If some of them come back home, they must stay 21 days quarantine. So my thoughts are with my family in the UK.

My parents are active, they have a small farm and a big garden with vegetables and fruit. They  live 40 km far away from my home and visit me once a month ( to bring  me homemade eggs, milk and vegetables  )

 The schools are closed until 12 April and the teachers teach their students online. For example, I use the Zoom app for my classes. Every day I have 5 online lessons,  my students are in a virtual classroom I can see them, they can see and hear me as well.  In this virtual classroom, I can teach lessons, do exercises, examine my students without mark them.  My colleagues do the same.

We have ban on traveling from one town to another. We are allowed to leave the house if we work or shop. The shops are closed except supermarkets,  pharmacies and groceries. The older people over 60 are allowed to go shopping only between 8.30 to 10.30 am. Outside we have to keep a distance, many people wear breathing masks and surgical gloves. The hospitals aren’t overcrowded. In Bulgaria 297 have been infected and 3 have dead so far.

 I don’t know how long it will last.

Greetings from Bulgaria


Dear friends,

It is nearly the same in all countries. We have Corona news everywhere but nothing else. It makes all of us a bit depressed. My wife is an anesthetist and she has to work hard nowadays. Schools are closed and it may open on 30th April earliest (I don't believe this because all exams and university entrance exams are rescheduled on 25th July.  So schools will be closed till June I think)  We try to keep in touch with our students by Zoom or Skype to inform them and motivate them. On televisions we have distant education programs for all grades. Students watch them.

Only important shops are open and it is strongly advised to stay at home unless it is urgent. It's like a horror movie. All streets and squares are almost empty. As you know In Turkey we mostly live flats and we don't have gardens to walk or relax.  I must say that Susanne you are really lucky with your garden  :)  I have to take care of my son and daughter all day in a flat so it can be crazy sometimes.

The first case In Turkey was detected two weeks ago and now we have now nearly 5000 cases and 100 deaths. (compared to Italy and Spain I think it is just the beginning) And we are waiting for the big wave. Every day new strict rules are announced to keep people socially isolated but I am not sure how well it works.

As government workers we are lucky because we get full salaries although we don't go to work. However, most people are not as lucky as us because they have to work in difficult conditions.

We don't visit any family members especially the older ones. We just keep in touch by mobiles.  Everybody cooks at home and people try to avoid going shopping. One month ago all these things could be a part of a science fiction story to me but now they are our realities.

I wish you all healthy and hopeful days. Big hugs from Kayseri.


Dear Friends!

The same situation is in Lithuania, (March 28), 382 people have now been infected and 5 people have died. The first quarantine was announced from 16 of March till 28, but the government has decided to continue it till the 12 of April. Nobody knows what will be later, because a lot of people come back to Lithuania by ferries and aircraft. Of course, they are checked, but not all of them obey two-week self-isolation.

Cafés, restaurants, hairdressing salons, dental services, and shops are closed except supermarkets, where you can buy food, groceries and pharmacies. And it is strongly advised to stay home, so all street are empty.  

It is possible to go for a walk, but we are suggested to keep distance about 2 meters between people if you are talking (only two persons must be in a group), and if you are in a queue.

Schools were closed for 2 weeks, but on Monday (30 of March) they start distant education using Zoom. We also do not meet with family members and friends, only in touch using mobiles. It is really like a horror film.

I wish you stay healthy!!!

Big hugs from Klaipeda.


Dear Susanne,

Troubled waters here.  I am privileged,too. I don't live alone, I have a garden , a job and one more gift: I feel well, at the moment. As in Spain, everyday we count the deaths and learn about the miserable condition of the sicks. Hospitals are completely full.Consider that only the patients with very serious complications can be admitted there. Moreover, those people who can help, I mean doctors,nurses, policemen and other categories fully involved in the emergency are more and more getting sick and dying. In some areas the army are carrying coffins with their lorries in an never ending line. Parents,children and relatives cannot see them and take their last farewell. Another problem is that you must be in good health. Any disease can't be cured properly. This is another tragedy for the elderly or patients with serious pathologies. What to say for the poor families... After the darkest hours the sun will shine again

Anna, from Italy

Dear friends,

The situation here is unusual as well. We are not allowed to go for walks and severe fines are applies. Schools are closed and today the Minister announced we might have a ling school year up until July. We do the online teaching and that is another problem we have to solve- new methods and a lot of effort is put into that.

Noone can leave the town unless on a business trip or some important reason like a visit to a doctor or sick relatives.

We are completely isolated in our homes and life is dying slowly.

Thank God, we have only 6 dead for now, but they say the worst is to come around Easter!

We know nothing about final exams but that does not seem to be the main problem.

A lot of people are fired and companies are going bankrupt which will lead to an unseen depression. Not much is said about that.

I am sick and depressed of listening to statistics about the virus worldwide! And no reasonable explanation for me how did it take so many victims in Italy and Spain. Looks strange and bad thoughts are making us weak and sad.

I pray this ends soon and hope you are all well!

Take good care!

Hope to meet you soon! 

Jaki, from Bulgaria

Dear all:

Here in Spain the situation is the same. In my village we have 6 people with the disease and today one of them is dead, she is 95 years old.
About the school, every thing is chaotic. From the very beginning, I was working with technology, but most of my colleague have to study how that it works, because they don´t usually use them. We don´t know what is going to happen with the course, some people say that we have to pass all the students, another that we are going to have lessons until July, about the final exam for people who are going to the University next year, is the same. Authorities and Goverment are doing the things when they are coming, no plan. To live at home for people like us, is really complicate (As Italian people), because we usually live outside our house. The weather is not good, so I can´t stay in my terrace. So it´s very hard and depressing. You have bad and good days, but at the end we are welll, that it is the most important thing. We are cooking all the time, to spend time, in fact, we are going to make just now a pizza!!! I promise to send you a photo. Best wishes for all of you and try to keep save.
Virtual kisses !!! Esther

Dear Erasmus friends,

I would be very interested in the situation in your countries, schools and families.
There is only Corona news here all day, but mainly from Germany.

In Germany (March 27), 53,000 people have now been infected and 395 people have died. The very low number of deaths compared to Italy and Spain cannot (yet) be explained. North Rhine-Westphalia, with 10,000 infected people, is the most populous federal state at the center of the epidemic.

The schools are closed until April 20th, the exams for the Abitur (graduation for High school) and the middle degree shall take place, only when exactly is not yet clear. Some schools have to offer childcare for parents' children, who both work in important jobs and cannot stay at home. This service is also to be maintained during the Easter holidays. I don't need to go to school because I'm over 60. But less than 5% of the children take advantage of this opportunity. I have not yet heard that a student or colleague of our school who is ill. may it stay that way.

The supervision of the students by the teachers is very different. Some teachers simply gave the pupils tasks for three weeks and then did not care anymore, others have a lot of contact with their classes and courses via internet or telephone. I strictly hold on to the timetable and put my older courses online every hour, answer questions via WhatsApp, the students send me photos of their work, which I then correct and send back. In the end there are solutions for everyone. I don't like to stand in front of a camera and admired Ertugrul on facebook. But with all my efforts, I only reach a few students, even if everyone is included in the WhatsApp groups. Some do nothing or don't show that they are working. The hard-working are always there. It also becomes difficult when really new content is to be conveyed. And I am seriously worried about the situation of the younger pupils, which I can only reach by email. How do they feel at home? How much argument and trouble is there in the small apartments in the middle of Mönchengladbach? The poor families have no money to make extra purchases and feel disadvantaged. The supermarkets are still full, only toilet paper was bought like crazy. And flour, but very few people bake bread themselves.

I have never felt so privileged. I have a large garden on the edge of the village and can move freely. I don't have to go to work and get the full salary. Many people are much worse off. The self-employed are uncertain. My husband and I hardly have any visitors because my husband is old and sick and very afraid of infection. He is one of the few who have actually done a test, but we still have no result. I can deal with myself well. I clear out all the cupboards, throw away what is not necessary and make order with the rest. Finally, make photo books from old vacations. Work in the garden and for school. And walk a lot - sometimes more than 10 km.

Otherwise, I don't have to worry: I don't have children like my colleagues - Birgit had to bring her son home from South Africa and Regina's daughter is stuck in Bolivia. Many students have returned to their parents' homes because the universities are also closed.
Dietrich's parents and my father have been dead for a long time. My mother is very active and is well looked after by neighbors and friends (she lives far away). The siblings of my husband and me all locked up, we are on the phone.

This is how it looks with me. And with you? How is the situation?

Best wishes from Germany Susanne