In early 2020, life was pretty normal. I was waiting for the winter holidays to go skiing, especially after I got tired from my work as a bartender in a local bar in Tirana, Albania. I was even planning to quit my job to focus on myself more; travel and take a vacation with the savings I made. However, plans do not always go accordingly and in January 2020, I saw the news about a new virus spreading in China and from there it was taking a global catch and spreading almost everywhere in the world.

I talked with a friend of mine about the virus and we didn’t think it would spread to the entire world. Again, it proved us wrong; it had reached our next-door neighboring country, Italy and from that moment, we knew that sooner or later it would reach Albania because we have a vast majority of diaspora living and working in Italy.

Anyways, what we feared the most happened, the virus came into our country and in March 2020, the whole country was in quarantine for three months. Everything was locked down for three months. However, what I didn’t expect was that now I had the chance to take a break from my work and everything else. It was hard in the beginning, but somehow I needed this time to be free from work and the busy lifestyle I had. I was spending a lot more time with my friends and family than I ever could. I was hiking in parks and mountains and took a lot of fresh air and lost some weight which I think is pretty interesting.

Finally, for me personally, with all the negative effects and devastation COVID-19 caused globally, I try to see the positive effect it had on me. It taught me how important it is to spend time with my family, how important it is to be financially stable (lots of people lost their jobs), and I learned that no matter how rich you are, health is more important than anything else.

I learned how important it is to practice personal hygiene. One of the main lessons for me was realizing that going out every night in nightclubs and bars is not mandatory for me and I can spend nights and days without needing to go out; I beat the fear of missing out! I find it more useful now to stay home, read a book, watch a movie or just spend time with family because each day could be our last.