I am an Australian, but I have been studying in Barcelona since September 2019. When cases of Covid-19 first rose in March, I considered leaving, but I shared a lease with my then-partner, and the time difference meant I would have had classes at 2am. By July, I had finished my thesis and my lease. With no hope of work in Spain, I booked a flight.
Australia hugs the edge of the world, and Melbourne is closer to Antarctica than Bali. The federal government’s decision to limit entry to 4,000 people per week (now 6,000) shattered the fragile air corridors connecting Australia to the world. With only 30 seats per flight sometimes, airlines started encouraging passengers to upgrade to business to guarantee a seat.
By September, I was squatting in someone’s spare room, with the tenuous promise of a make-up flight in November. My flight had been cancelled twice already.