COVID-19: Checking in with the YWCA Hostel residents

A French Hostel resident speaks with a few of her 150 fellow bubble-mates


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April 09, 2020 Laure Giraud

For the past week, our lives in New Zealand have taken a new, albeit unexpected, turn: we are in quarantine. For most of us, that means staying at home, surrounded by family, our personal bubble. However, for others, like me, the situation is quite different: confinement is done in a hotel or in a youth hostel. An environment that leads to sometimes delicate changes and adjustments.

At the YWCA Auckland [Hostel], where I've been living since I arrived a month ago, I have seen and experienced these changes for myself. So I went around my bubble, made up of just over 150 residents, to exchange and share our feelings and our state of mind. Now it's my turn to deliver them to you.

Jordina, 22, comes from Spain where she conducts research in bioengineering. Some of these collaborators working at the University of Auckland, she had the opportunity to come to New Zealand to pursue her thesis. During confinement, she can continue her research from the hostel using the resources put in place by the university. Despite this, her work is severely affected by constraints because she has trouble concentrating and getting into working condition: "It's so easy to stay in bed ...". In addition, there are technical problems such as the instability of Internet connections; everything is more complicated and slower than before.

Sebastian is a student of another type; coming to New Zealand to study English, this young Chilean lawyer has just celebrated his first month of residence at the YWCA. Like many, he works at the same time as he studies, to finance his stay; but like few students, he managed to keep his maintenance and cleaning job in a hotel, despite the confinement. After a week of confinement, he admits that he is not stressed by the situation, because "there is no other option than to protect yourself and others as much as you can."

Tein is only 19 years old; she has lived in New Zealand for five years. Her parents live in Thailand, the country where Tien spent her childhood. Today, she is studying international hotel management. She has been living at the YWCA for a month and shares her room with a friend. Before confinement, their cohabitation was simple because they were rarely in the room at the same time; Tien worked in a frozen yogurt store and the rest of the time was at the university (AUT). The confinement is hard for her, she talks to her parents every day and she feels loneliness and boredom like never before. However, she says she is happy with the situation because it encourages her to go to the other residents.

Steve is one of the managers of the Hostel. A native Englishman, he arrived in New Zealand 17 years ago and quickly adopted the country. Steve does not live in the hostel with us, however, he is an integral part of our bubble and the coronavirus impacts his work directly, in addition to his daily life. The main change concerns his family situation since he owns a house in Northland, where his children and family live, but he has not been able to go to see them since the confinement began. So like all of us at the hostel, he uses Skype to talk to them and check that everything is going well for them.

At the Auckland YWCA, life goes on after the first week of confinement. The rules of community life have been adjusted so that everyone feels protected and surrounded. Our managers make a bridge of honour to check that we are doing well and our bubble finds its rhythm to approach the next three weeks.


Translated from French, the original post appeared on Le Petit Journal.

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