29 May 2020

My journey started on 17 March when I boarded a plane in Edinburgh, and ended on 4 April. It took me 19 days to finally get home.
My journey from Edinburgh to China - airport at sunset

Leaving Edinburgh

I vividly remember the day I left Edinburgh. The sky was an expanse of sapphire blue and the radiant rays of the sun shone brightly across the sky. With so much love for this city, I was reluctant to board the flight destined for Hong Kong (transitioning at Qatar).

During the almost 20 hours of air travel, I took my mask off only once to eat something for energy replenishment. All the flight attendants wore masks and gloves as well.

By the time I got to Hong Kong international airport, my stomach was cramping from hunger, so I found a restaurant for a quick meal. After seven hours of waiting at the Hong Kong International Airport to carry out temperature checks (passengers witha high temperature were not permitted on the flight), I successfully boarded the plane to Shanghai.

On the flight to Shanghai Pudong airport, the crew conducted two more temperature checks and asked passengers to fill out a Health Declaration Checklist. Anyone who hid their coronavirus-related symptoms and infections would be punished.

Self-isolating in Shanghai

The plane landed safely two hours later, and just when I thought I could finally go home, we were informed that passengers from overseas would be further checked for health status, supervised by staff. In that moment, I felt like the way home was suddenly so far away, it seemed it would take forever. What I didn't know was that this was just the beginning.

I had told the airport staff that I had had a sore throat for a few days and, not surprisingly, someone arranged for me to do a COVID-19 test before entering customs. I waited for more than 5 hours until midnight, with other passengers returning home from different countries all around the world. The coronavirus testing only took one minute, then I was sent to an 'isolation hotel' to wait for the result.

A good sleep in bed was all I needed at the time. A day later, I received the call that I had tested negative for coronavirus, so next I was transferred to another hotel to self-isolate for 15 days. During the self-isolation period, I had to report my temperature every day and was tested (negative) for COVID-19 three more times. The moment I checked out of the hotel, I felt like I was a free person again.

Even though the trip was truly tortuous and tiring, I'm grateful. Grateful that the flight I booked was not cancelled and grateful that I successfully survived the coronavirus pandemic. I still don't know where my life is headed to, but I now believe that staying safe and healthy is something we need to fight for. Every single day is a blessing!

Zixuan (Julie) Zeng, Marketing and Business Analysis