In a slight departure from our normal student-athlete profile, we are sharing a letter from Emporia State track and field athlete Linnea Meier about her return to Norway last week. She got to her hometown on April 1 and then sent the following letter to cross country head coach and track distance coach Mark Stanbrough.
I just got back home to my dad’s house a couple of hours ago. The trip took me a total of 40+ hours to get here due to cancelations, but other than that I am very tired, the trip was good though. On the trip I noticed the airports and airplanes took a lot of precautions where we had to keep our distance (6 feet apart), sitting scattered on our flights, and that we had to do the majority of the chick-ins ourselves. A lot of the people were wearing masks (including myself), gloves, and some were even wearing protection glasses. However, it was when I landed in Amsterdam that I really saw measurements being taken. For example they were closing off seating in the waiting areas where you had to have two seats in between people. Also, it was a lot less people in the airports and most of the people that were traveling were people going home to their countries. When I got to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, where it is usually packed with people, it almost looked abandoned in some areas, and every store was closed except for Burger King and a coffee shop.
When I landed in Chicago there was one officer that asked me if I was a student and I said yes. So he told me to stand in line for check-in (even though I had a 22 hour layover there, which I tried to tell him, but he insisted that I stand in line anyway). After standing in that line for 1-2 hours and when it was finally my turn, they told me that this was the line for an exchange student organization that tried to get their high schoolers home. I was in the wrong line for almost 2 hours! But it was fine because I had extra time to kill anyway.
I talked to a lady at that same airport and she was from Lithuania, and she told me that she had been trying to get home to her country since March 14th. That made me kind of worried, but luckily the rest of my flights did not get canceled. I felt bad for that lady though, and I hope she got home safely to her family.
When I got to Oslo, there were healthcare professionals when we left the airplane asking us how we were feeling, and it looked like they were ready to test any travelers that were feeling any of the COVID-19 symptoms. I think just being around it all (and wearing my mask for so long) made me feel a little paranoid about having a headache and other symptoms. But then I remembered how it is pretty common to have a headache when I had been traveling for so many hours at that point without much sleep. I am feeling fine now that I have had some proper food and fluid.
Norway started early on preparing for the epidemic, even though it is spreading rapidly here as well. I think it helped that we saw other countries close to the border, like Sweden, struggling with a lot of cases, that we are taking a lot of precautions. When I arrived at my final destination, it looked like the airport was controlled by military recruits, guiding us through the arrival zone and handing out fliers about how we have to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Which is what I am doing right now.
My dad is getting back from Israel (where he works right now) in two days, so I will be in quarantine with him for two weeks. I have to say it is weird to live in the same house as my family on my dad’s side, without being able to really interact with them, so it will be good that I can at least hang out with him. 🙂 Also, I will not be able to see my mom and sister until I am done with my two weeks, since my mom lives in the city and works at the hospital. But it is good to be back home with my family, even though I was looking forward on spending my first summer in the States and running with my teammates.
I apologize for the long email, I am not very good at explaining things in short sentences. And I should probably get some sleep now since it is 12:00 am. I always try to be up as late as I can after I get to Norway from the States, because then I will get rid of my jet lag faster.
Have a blessed rest of your day,