BY SARAH ARTURI
Summer in the UK is distinct from previous years as neighbouring European countries see a spike in COVID-19 infections once again.
Europe and the UK saw daily case numbers increase into the thousands during the first wave of the virus in March, but strict lockdown measures resulted in a flattening of the curve.
However, a recent surge in infections following eased restrictions has raised concerns of a second wave striking countries that were previously affected.
With infection rates mimicking those seen at the beginning of the pandemic, Spain has again become a hotspot as cases surge beyond 3000 per day, bringing the country’s total to 418,729 cases.
Gabriella Caldeira, 22, is an Australian living abroad and experienced Spain’s horrific first wave of COVID-19 while working as an English teacher in Seville.
Ms Caldeira felt the brunt of stage four restrictions in March when she was required to isolate while living alone, and also lost her job at an English academy.
“I had no friends in the town I was living in and I wasn’t able to take the train into town so it was extremely isolating,” Ms Caldeira said.
“I video called my girlfriend every day and we watched movies together and played online Pictionary to keep each other’s spirits up.”
Ms Caldeira said her experience living abroad during the pandemic has been “surreal and scary”.
Despite being concerned about what tomorrow might hold, she plans to stay in Spain and find another job.
Remaining abroad during the global crisis was not an option for all Australians.
For University of Cambridge student Anna Anossovitch, flying home was her only option.
When England’s first wave struck, Ms Anossovitch was unable to remain in her dorm room for the school year as university students were “relentlessly” pushed to return home.
“I didn’t want to go back home because for me it wouldn’t be going back, it would almost be like getting evicted from where I live,” she said.
Ms Anossovitch, like many other students studying abroad, did not have enough money to purchase a flight back to Australia, so was granted travel funds by her university.
After completing her third trimester remotely in Victoria, Ms Anossovitch was ready to return to the UK for the remainder of its summer holidays.
Lockdown measures lessened on August 15 to allow theatres, casinos and bowling alleys to reopen.
Ms Anossovitch said she was very surprised by the UK’s lax attitude in the middle of a pandemic.
Monash University graduate and travel blogger Hayley Mckenna is also living in the UK and said “people are trying to live their lives a little bit now”, causing England’s daily cases to again soar into the thousands.
Ms Mckenna saw two sides of the pandemic when she travelled from London to Melbourne for “family support” and captured her unique travel experience on her blog Suitcase On My Sleeve.
“It was quite scary because I didn’t want to stay stuck in isolation in my London flat, so I jumped on a plane and worked from home in Australia,” Ms McKenna said.
It took Ms Mckenna two attempts to successfully gain permission to leave Australia after four months since her arrival, and the “extremely tight” travel restrictions have left her wondering when she’ll be able to see her family next.
The continual soaring of cases across Europe has prompted countries to tighten restrictions, leaving people uncertain of what lies ahead as winter inches closer.
“I take it one day at a time here – I think everybody does because you really just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ms Mckenna said.