Returning home after one year: The moment of relief

One year of video calls, one year of not seeing family and friends in my home country. After waiting for months the German government has now decided to lift it’s travel restrictions. For me that was the moment I realized: I’m finally able to return home. 

When I returned to Dublin in June last year, my parents planned to come for a visit in July and I was sure I would go home for Christmas. However, it turns out that a pandemic is unpredictable. I spent the first lockdown in Germany. Only arrived in Dublin six months prior and living in a tiny room in a house with two guys I wasn’t really happy with, the risk of being stuck there during a lockdown for whoever knows how long, was too big. 

It proved to be the right decision. My best friend went back to Italy as well and although I had already met my now boyfriend at that time, it was anything other than a stable relationship. Three months in my parents house after living on my own for four years wasn’t easy sometimes, but it was a time I wouldn’t want to miss. Especially now. Because neither my parents could visit me in July, nor did I go back home for Christmas. By now it is one year ago that I’ve seen my family.

Being back in Dublin I had to quarantine for two weeks, which wasn’t a big problem because I had moved into a new house with nice people. However, that rule made it impossible for my parents to visit me. It was sad but I saw them only one month ago and I thought I would go back home in December at the latest anyway. Well, I was wrong.

Surviving a pandemic away from home: Lessons for every migrant.

After enjoying a relatively free summer in Ireland, I started planning my Christmas holidays in Germany. Spending two weeks with my parents, my three brothers and their families. Playing with my niece and nephew and seeing how much they had grown up in only six months. That was the plan.

I already booked the flight and couldn’t wait to go to my home country. But then, two days before the flight, my father noticed that there is a new quarantine rule in Germany. Everyone arriving from a “risk country”, which parts of Ireland are still considered as, has to quarantine and only then can take a test to be free again. Ten days being all by myself in some empty place to stay four more days? Didn’t make much sense. 

After many tears were shed, I started to look forward to Christmas with my boyfriend, who I couldn’t have spent it with if my plan worked out. We stayed with his sister, relaxed and had video calls with my family. It was nice but not the same. My family is spread all over Germany. Christmas for me is not important because of its meaning, but because I can spend a fews days with my parents and brothers, which only happens once or twice a year. Missing out on that, especially after crazy six months in a pandemic, full of anxiety and uncertainty, was hard.

Soon after Christmas, I was already thinking about going home for Easter, the second public holiday that my family always tries to spend together. Going for walks, having ice-cream in my home town and just relaxing and having barbecues in the garden of my parents house.  Exactly what I needed. With vaccinations starting and cases going down, there was some hope that it could work this time.

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But in April the quarantine rule was still in place and messed up my plans – again. At least I didn’t book the flight and lost any money this time. At that point I stopped making plans and told myself to be patient and wait until there is a change.

That is what happened in the middle of May. As soon as I read online that there are new rules for travelling, my heart started to beat faster. Excited and full of hope, I opened the article. Scrolling down, skipping the general information I wasn’t interested in at all, I finally got to the list of new rules. 

With people craving for holidays, cases going down and a quick vaccine rollout, the German government announced that everyone who is vaccinated or recovered from Covid, can travel without having to quarantine. I am neither of that. But there was more. Everyone who is arriving from a “risk country”, only needs a negative Covid test. That can be a PCR test from the last 72 hours or an antigen test which can’t be older than 48 hours. The negative result has to be entered in an entry registration form online and is automatically transferred to German authorities at the airport. Finally. That was what I was waiting for since Christmas. The moment I knew: I’m now able to return home.

Pauline Stahl
Pauline Stahl

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