An expat in Valencia talks about his routine during lockdown

Published on 2020-05-06 at 09:32 by Francesca meets Stefano, an Italian expatriate who lives in Valencia with his family. Let's talk about his routine between remote work and managing children during the lockdown.

For how long have you lived in Spain and in which city have you been?

We have been living in Valencia for two years now.

How did you learn about the coronavirus pandemic? What was your reaction?

We have been following the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic since its spread across China.

Subsequently, having to return to Italy for work twice a month, I started to follow the situation in Spain and Italy in order to understand whether I had to follow particular procedures or take specific precautions during my various trips. Then, I decided that I wouldn't move from Valencia anymore, taking into account the difficulties I was beginning to face.

From that moment, I believe that like anyone, the only thing that recurred on the news, at home, with friends and relatives has been this ... and still more or less, unfortunately, follows this way.

What measures has the city of Valencia taken to contain the infections and ensure the safety of its citizens? Are you obliged to stay indoors?

Valencia is a city where the civic sense is very strong, despite being located quite in the south of the country. This is why the city has always been loyal to the procedures and contrary to what we felt in Italy, the cars that turned and the people who were seen around were always very few, which consequently pushed us to respect them as well. What surprised me is that unlike Italy, although Valencia is the city of running, I have not heard a Valenciano complain of not being able to go running and having to give up his daily run.

What are the means used by local authorities to inform citizens of the changing situation? Does the language barrier trouble you in terms of understanding the news?

Valencia feels very proud and feels very much about being part of the Valencian community, although not in an extreme way like in Catalunya. This is why the city has its daily newspaper, Las Provincias, which is always very careful to provide information on the community. Perhaps before the news, it is the means of communication to follow, since it can also be consulted online.

Did the pandemic have an impact on your work?

Fortunately, I collaborate remotely with an Italian company that works in the food sector and has never had to close.

Work from home was already the norm for me. Every two weeks, I used to go back to Italy to spend a couple of days in the company, but the current travel restrictions are not allowing me to do so for now.

The company is still promoting remote working, so it is not affected by my absence at the moment. I really hope, not only for my job, to be able to start travelling again before the summer.

Were there any positive cases of COVID-19 in Valencia?

Clearly yes, as in all of Spain, but fortunately the UCI (intensive care unit) has never filled more than 70%, so let's say that the health crisis has never happened here. In addition, a field hospital was set up next to La Fe Hospital (the largest in Valencia) in record time, which fortunately never needed to be opened. However, it will remain in place until the new year, hoping to continue not being used.

What was the impact on your children? Are they aware of what's going on?

The human being is able to adapt more than we think and so my 12 and 14-year-old children also seem to be doing well.

It's incredible to think how two boys who used to be unable to stay at home, given their need to move, play, interact and physically let off steam, are now able to spend so much time within four walls without complaining. 

At first, the thought of spending the first two weeks of the state of emergency seemed impossible, but we've been locked down for more than a month now, and it almost seems like it has become the norm. However, their restlessness increases every time we start talking about being able to go out.

Today, many parents are compelled to stay at home with their children. What would you advise them?

Maybe we don't realise that this moment we are going through will never come back in a lifetime. When will we get the opportunity to spend time with our family again? So here are two pieces of advice:

Let's enjoy this moment! Every moment. Try to enjoy the family, a good movie together on the sofa, making a pizza or playing board games. This is the only chance we have to do it.

Also, set some rules for different times of the day. Trying to give children/youngsters a little more time than you are used to granting, but on the other hand, ask for something more, like helping in the house, spending a little of time together and why not teach them to get bored too!