I first saw alarming news stories about coronavirus in Europe on 6 February. It had made its way into France, and my alarm bells immediately went off. I studied global disease biology in college and knew that travel—especially as often as it occurs between countries in the European Union—was dangerous, more so because of how this virus spreads. However, this was still a new virus and people in Vienna, Austria, where I work as an English-language teaching assistant in the USTA program, did not seem to be worried at all.
One month later on 6 March, I flew to Madrid, Spain, with my friend Valentina, another American English-language teaching assistant. Due to the amount of confirmed cases in Spain, we had initially hesitated to continue our trip. We decided to fly only after the Austrian coronavirus hotline assured us that it was safe. Once there, Madrid seemed even more relaxed than Vienna. No one looked worried, and there were huge events, including political rallies and a women's march.