By Simone Turner
Editorial note: The QLD Government recently announced that overseas arrivals to Queensland will be charged fees for quarantining in government arranged accommodation from 1 July 2020. If you’re planning travel to Australia, check with the state government for updates on quarantine fees and rules.
Simone Turner recently fled New York, and went through the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon her arrival in Australia. She shares her experience for us here.
Tip 1: Call the hotel first and check exactly what your accommodation will be like
Arriving home to Melbourne felt no different to any other time, except for signing the Australian Government COVID-19 form. Due to planes often being cancelled during this time, I booked my hotel at the Melbourne airport in the same cafe I happened to get coffee from before I left. “Hey, didn’t I just serve you when you were going to New York?, said the barista. “Yeah, that was me,” I said. I can’t believe I’m actually back here, I thought.
I jumped on the Sky Bus and went straight to my hotel room. The moment I put my bags down I dropped to the floor and burst into tears. After sobbing for an hour, I finally unpacked and decided that I would make the most of this time. Nope, I thought, nothing’s gonna break my spirit or my positivity now.
Yet, what I wish I thought of when booking my hotel, was to ask for a room with windows that open, where I could see the sky, feel sunshine, breathe fresh air, that wasn’t near smokers, which made my room smell like a night club in the early 2000s (when it was legally allowed indoors).
Trying to be positive, I thought it would be okay because ‘it was only a few days.’ How wrong I was.
To make matters worse, the hotel reception called me several times during that same day to check I was in my room and that whenever someone dropped off items to me, I received a phone call to check that they also were not in my room too. I was warned several times about how they could call the police and I could be fined – even though I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was by day six, I truly began to feel like a prisoner and had a mini meltdown.
I phoned the Coronavirus helpline that night and an amazing woman named Kelly confirmed exactly what I was thinking – that being in that room another eight days was simply not okay. The hotel staff moved me and I’m now currently in a room where I can see the city and sky, open my window, feel sunlight on my face, and it’s a non-smoking area. I cannot begin to even tell you what this feels like.
When I arrived in this room yesterday, I sat on the windowsill for an hour. I have never appreciated seeing the sky, outside world and breathing fresh air like I did in that moment.
So my biggest tip here is to call the hotel first to check what type of room you’ll have. 14 days doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you don’t see the sky or have sunlight, it is.
Tip 2: Know that this is not normal and you’re allowed to cry
I’m on day seven of isolation right now and I’m not going to lie, it has not been easy for me. I’m an extrovert who grew up in performing arts, and still act now while I work in marketing. I’m a social butterfly with loads of energy.
I want people to know that if you are going through the same thing – quarantine for 14 days – what you’re feeling is normal. I’ve had several anxiety attacks and burst into tears out of nowhere if I see a picture of New York. As I’ve mentioned, grief comes in many forms and this is actually what you’re going through. If you need to cry, cry (without feeling guilty).
And if like me, your dream was shattered, I want you to know that you have not failed. There are 1,000 ways to do something. You’ve just tried one way that hasn’t worked right now, but there are 999 other avenues.
Tip 3: Ask and accept help
I’m a total Miss Independent and I hate asking for help at any cost. Yet when friends have offered to bring me food or go to the chemist for me, I’ve accepted it. There’s only so much you can get from Uber Eats (Coles/Woolworths take over a week to deliver at this point), and sometimes your body truly needs some nourishing, comfort food.
I’ve had friends drop off pain killers for my sinus, coloring books, food, essential oils and coffee for my Aero Press. I can’t wait to help others in isolation when I’m out of here. If you’re in Melbourne, hit me up!
Tip 4: Meditate, exercise, read, write gratitude lists (and don’t get too consumed in the news)
Fortunately, entertaining myself during alone time has never been an issue for me. I have plenty to do right now. I have been keeping busy applying for jobs; reading books like Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo; doing YouTube workouts by Pamela Reif (tough, but get results!), meditating by myself or using guided mediations on YouTube by Boho Beautiful; journaling, drawing or creating funny videos; doing my nails; studying something new; speaking to friends and family; or binge watching The Bold Type. However, not having human contact or a coffee with a girlfriend feels very different.
Being in isolation is hard enough, so I actually haven’t watched any news since I’ve been in here. I find meditation, reading, exercising and writing my daily gratitude lists have been rituals I really look forward to.
I’m about to create a new vision board on my laptop too. While some people’s dreams might have been shattered, we know that this time won’t last forever, so we need to still focus on exciting things to come. A vision board paints a picture for new future goals, which I believe gives us hope during this time. Your experience during this time might even inspire new goals that you’ve never thought of before.
Tip 5: Reach out to people – especially if you’re not coping
Whether you just want a chat or you need a friend, know that it’s okay to say. “I’m not doing so well today.” Being stripped of being able to go for a walk and not leave your hotel room is not easy. Your true friends will be there for you.
Also, please reach out to helplines if you want to chat to someone professional. There are many organizations here in Australia and where you are too.
Tip 6: Be kind to yourself and others
The time right now is super hard. I feel so sad for my sister, a nurse who’s just lost a patient due to this virus. I worry about my other sister who’s conducting blood tests. Everyone I speak to is scared, uncertain and at a loss for something.
Whether it’s a nurse or doctor on the frontline; the loss of a business, job, home, dream, life plan, holiday or birthday party; a cancelled wedding or engagement party; not being able to have someone there at the birth of our child; or a mother now learning to home school and juggling a heavy workload, we cannot know exactly how it truly feels, but we can show compassion and be kind.
Everyone is going through their own struggle. As my friend said to me today, “The worst thing about right now, is not knowing what will happen.”
What the world needs now more than anything is more love and kindness, because we truly do have no idea what some people are feeling, what they are going through, and what it’s like for them.
Tip 7: Remind yourself that you are a warrior
Just before I left New York, I found a book in my airbnb called If you have to cry, go outside by Kelly Cotrone. This woman has been through everything. There are so many amazing takeaways, but the one thing that stood out most is that she reminds all women that they are warriors.
This word has now leaked into one of my affirmations: I am not a quitter. I am a warrior. I will get through this.
I want to remind all women reading this (if you’ve got to the end, I’m sorry this is probably the longest article I’ve ever written!), that you are a warrior too.
As I sat on the windowsill yesterday, the rain suddenly came pouring down – and it was beautiful. It felt like a symbolisation of the end of one journey, but the start of another.
I truly believe and have faith in the fact that history shows us that we will get through this and our life will continue. We may never be the same, but I have faith that we will be better – for I truly believe all women are warriors.
Final thoughts and thank you
Thank you to all the people I’ve met in New York in person or online with the Australian Women in New York, Australians in New York Facebook and networking groups. When you’re living overseas, these people are like family, understanding exactly what we’re going through, what moving to New York means and being there for support whenever we need it. It’s a community like no other, without judgement, and I am so grateful.
This essay was written by Simone Turner and is republished with permission.
Simone became a volunteer with AWNY in February 2020. She is a presenter, marketer and copywriter from Melbourne who can’t wait to come back to New York. Find her on Instagram @simoneaturner or TikTok @simoneadeleturner for content creating tips (and laughs!).
Image credit: Unsplash / Engin Akyurt
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