The month was February. Most students were busy rejuvenating after a long session of exams at Politecnico di Milano campus in the Lecco town of Lombardy in Italy. In a few weeks, the region would become the epicentre of Covid-19. While the news of an impending virus attack made it to conversations, the town was relatively calm and things were usual. There were no signs of panic or tension. People moved around and partied as usual.
But life changed drastically in just two weeks as the coronavirus began to spread exponentially. The streets became empty. There were no walkers, runners and cyclists on the roads. Every happening place in Milan fell silent. The scenario was same in Venice, Rome and all other cities.
Italians had begun to spend their lives inside their homes and, in worse cases, in hospitals.
On the campus, students stayed mostly indoors. Those who went home were forced to extend their stay. Loneliness has crept into the lives of all and everybody is now waiting to turn things back to normal.
However, the crisis has not affected our classes. The university and the government have taken measures to ensure that the activities aren't effected.
Classes, labs and even a few events are being successfully conducted online. This means that hundreds of people are putting in effort to understand a method they aren't used to or prepared for. And this has been done in very little time. Most of us who came home for the semester breaks did not expect that Covid-19 would cause such a catastrophe. Apart from academics, the university takes care to give us a day to day update without fail about the measures taken by the government to ensure everyone's well being and the special provisions it has made for the students living in Italy and abroad.
Italy is one of the worst Covid-19-affected countries in the world, but the people are fighting this pandemic together. They are careful, but not scared. They are learning new things and finding new ways to keep themselves engaged. They are aware that the world is learning from Italy on how to cope and fight.
(Hitha Surendranath is a Master's student in Architectural Engineering at Politecnico Di Milano, Italy.)