Studying abroad is an illuminating experience, I was fortunate enough to have the firsthand experience of studying in London for 5 years. A career in the UN is my ambition, and so I signed up for this particular program which is affiliated with the United Nations. Due to the unexpected Corona outbreak, education abroad has turned out to be a nightmare.
I am an Indian student, pursuing my LLM at United Nations Inter regional Crime and Justice Research Institute in Turin, Italy. At the outset I would like to establish that I am mentally drained, devastated, disheartened and panicking about the Corona outbreak whilst I am still in the Red Zone in North Italy, I am not blaming anyone and I completely understand and realize it is an act of God and everything is out of control, I humbly urge and seek for urgent intervention over my following concerns:
I am very much aware of the efforts of the Indian Government for sending out a Medical Team to Rome and I can confirm that the Medical Team is and will be based only in Rome and are not moving to different cities in Italy to render their noble services.
Intricacy: I live in Turin which is 700 kms from Rome; other Indian students like me are spread out across Italy. Commutation is definitely discomforting and unpleasant especially when the Italian Government has emphasised on ‘staying at home’ and self-isolate, it’s not responsible of me as a human being (and/or people like me) to travel 700 kms at the risk of being exposed to Corona as a ‘transmitter or a receiver’ in this event travel, it is logical for us to be able to avail this benefit within reasonable vicinity at the very least.
Selective Rescue and Repatriation:
With regard to the Medical test, unfortunately it seems to be available only for those who wish to fly to India and I can confirm it that for those international students who wish to stay in Italy are denied these Tests both by the Indian Medical Team based in Rome. Private laboratory in Turin are keen to test those who have high symptoms such as high temperature, sneezing, coughing, breathlessness and not others who are or were exposed to infected persons directly.
Challenge: I have been living in an anxiety wondering if I have Corona or not for the past 2 weeks, with no symptoms thankfully, I am also aware that Corona can be asymptomatic as well. I personally feel that instead of rescuing me and repatriating me on a special plane to Indian (which I appreciate can be comforting perhaps under normal circumstances and not in this case) the ideal solution is to help me (and students like myself) get out ourselves tested first and eliminate the fear before we make a decision on flying back home and encourage us to help us be us, where we are or where we choose to be.
The Indian Embassy seems to have reached out to one of my friend and asked him if he wanted to go on the special plane to India on Saturday, 14th March 2020, he wanted a moment to think and pleaded for some time, when he reverted he was told that the flight is full. We both have registered ourselves on the applications and websites found on the official websites of the Indian Embassy in Italy and I felt neglected that I did not get a call. I am not able to comprehend this selective action or assuming that this mechanism is done ‘zone wise’ my friend and I both live 600 meters away from each other and registered on the same apps and other sources which we found online, I cannot explain how neglected and upset I felt.
The daunting 14 Day Compulsory Quarantine:
I have learnt to understand that regardless of the fact I test Corona positive or negative (reiterating that the medical test is available to me only when I agree to fly on a plane back home), I will be forced to Compulsory 14 days Quarantine in India.
Difficulty: I have been on self-quarantine for the past 2 weeks for two major reasons: Unfortunately a classmate of mine tested Corona positive and we are told by her doctors to self-isolate, secondly adhering to the Italian Government (as a responsible and law abiding individual) which emphasis on ‘staying at home.’ During these 2 weeks of solitary confinement, I feel like a prisoner of war (in my case it is even worse because I live in a 5 bedroom flat all alone) and I am not ashamed to admit that I am already depressed. I know that on return, I am forced to get into another depression phase for another 14 days I anticipate to feel more devastated (even if I test Corona negative). In addition to this on my return to India, I am exposing myself to more depression and more Corona perhaps as a transmitter or as a receiver, then a potential transmitter or a receiver during compulsory quarantine and perhaps a potential transmitter after the compulsory quarantine, also run the risk of character association if I ever happen to transmit Corona ‘unconsciously.’ I (and other students) have invested substantial about of money on our studies here and we are expected to continue to commit ourselves through e-learning. I’m told that the facilities in quarantine is less than bare minimum (which is completely understandable given the current circumstances) but it will negate the core purpose of our commitment as students to be able to continue our education through the e-learning platform. Our classes are continuing remotely, I have exams scheduled and we are expected to dedicate ourselves to what we have enrolled for. The 14 days compulsory quarantine will neither help us physically nor mentally. That apart our University is anticipating to resume classes on 1st week of April 2020, therefore my scenario will be a 14 day compulsory quarantine in India and I immediately return to Italy to resume classes (I assume my calculations are right this time) and I will be flying to India just to be on compulsory quarantine. I have invested substantial amount of money, I cannot be expected it to disregard it – or maybe I should?
I enquired the Indian Embassy if the Chinese Medical team that landed in Italy will test only Italians or if they are open to all, unfortunately they are unaware of this which I can understand.
With utmost respect to every action the Indian government has attempted take thus far, I would like to bring their kind attention to the above mentioned concerns which needs immediate attention and intervention! It’s been a while with the lock down in Italy and now, I’m developing the loneliness epidemic, as a consequence of Corona (luckily not Corona itself) especially when I’m staying in a 5 bedroom house all alone for the past 2 weeks, I am sorry to have vented out my agony, but I am trying to be strong!
I cannot thank everyone who is personally helping me our thus far, but I also don’t want to be selfish especially in times if this crisis. There are many more who are stranded and neglected like me and they too deserve help! I am beginning to convince myself I have a story to tell by children and grandchildren if I do survive and if I unfortunately don’t (worst case scenario) ‘if I perish, I perish……in Italy.’
About the Author
Maffei Devadoss is a bright, talented and ambitious lawyer with 5 years of legal experience in the United Kingdom and India. Has a proven record of providing effective advice to clients delivering positive outcomes.
Maffei did both Bachelors and Masters Degree in Law from the City Law School, London. She did internships with two of the most prestigious law firms in London (UK) and the High Court Legal Aid Services Committee in India. Maffei has also participated in a number of conferences pertaining to the legal domain such as :
• National Leadership Conference, Chennai, India
• Regional Conference at National Green Tribunal, Chennai, India.
• Madras High Court Heritage Conference, Chennai, India.
• Merchant Shipping Conclave, Chennai, India.
• Legal Literacy Camp, Chennai, India
Maffei has also authored a number of publications on various topics relevant to the legal domain.
Maffei specializes in Environmental Law, Human Rights Law, Family Law (NRI Marriages), Land Law and Corporate Law. Maffei is also an accomplished mediator in resolving disputes between clients.
Disclaimer: The ideas and sentences used in this article are purely the author’s freedom. The magazine has no responsibility in the statements used.