This post is part of a spontaneous interview series I’m throwing together this week. The goal is to share personal accounts from people doing compulsory home quarantine in Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hi Casey, welcome back! Where did you fly back from and how was the trip? I flew back from New York on March 18. Everyone had face masks and were taking all the preventative measures they could. I slept for 13 hours, which was really nice, so I didn’t really experience most of the flight.

What was the tipping point that made you decide to fly back to Taipei? I actually had this trip to Taipei planned since last December, so I’m taking vacation days from work. It just happened to be at the same time that the virus really broke out in New York and everything started shutting down. But it was a good time to come back. My parents had wanted me to come back earlier because they were worried about the situation escalating in New York.

Where are you staying during home quarantine? I’m staying at home with my mom, who is the only person in my immediate family in Taipei right now. 

Has there been anything that was surprising or memorable during the process of getting set up at home? Nothing particularly surprising because most of it was what I expected, like sanitizing everything once I got home, showering, putting all the clothes in the washer immediately. My mom set up everything so that I was in a quarantined room and used my own bathroom, and it was nice that she had everything done for me already so that I didn’t have to worry about much else except settling in and sanitizing my things.

How have the quarantine check-ups been for you with jetlag? It was kind of weird in the beginning because they had my mom’s number because I had to get a new one, so they kept calling and texting my mom (she still leaves to get groceries or take out and they monitor that). They were really nice and offered to send me a temporary cell phone, but I got a number later. They were really sweet to send a care package of face masks, candy, and cup noodles to me! Now that they have my number it’s not so bad — they call once or twice a day, usually around 10am or in the afternoon. I sleep pretty early because of jetlag and get up at 6am/7am, so it really doesn’t affect my day. Not that I am doing much to begin with…

How has your family reacted doing this process? Honestly, they’re really happy that I’m not in New York and that I’m back home and close. They were incredibly worried when I was in New York, so they’re relieved that I’m back. That being said, we’re still being super careful here, like keeping our distance and sanitizing, eating separate meals. It is kind of weird having my mom do everything for me from buying me food to washing the dishes, but I’m also grateful for her.

Casey’s quarantine care package from her local District Office.

How are you keeping busy? Mostly watching Netflix and Youtube, writing, reading, looking out my window. I just finished Midnight Diner and I was watching Hunter x Hunter but took a break. So many things are available on Netflix here in Taiwan that are not available in the States so I’m excited to watch everything from Studio Ghibli films to Brooklyn 99. But first I’m probably about to binge Itaewon Class. YouTube is just whatever is pops up! I go back to watch BTS Bangtan Bombs and rewatch old favorite YouTubers like Rachel Nguyen, but I’m not really loyal to anything so I just watch whatever interests me. Lots of learning to do from educational videos about film to interviews with artists and fashion illustration, and I’m definitely playing catch-up to videos I’ve saved.

Any other plans during your time back in Taiwan? When I’m out of quarantine I’d like to see my friends and family! And to just walk outside and hang out in my neighborhood. It’s been so long since I’ve been back that I’m itching to just walk around and see everything.

What are you missing most being stuck inside? Fresh air. Trees. Family and friends.

How are you keeping up with the news? What sites or apps do you use? I check the WHO and CDC website daily, and I have the Citizen app on my phone which gives me updates on what’s going on in New York specifically. Otherwise, I’m not super loyal to a news outlet and so I just browse around (CNN, NPR, BBC, etc.). My mom always has the local TV news in the background so I’ll look in here and there, but I’m also keeping up with my friends posts and following through their links to see what else I’m missing. I stay in touch with my friends about their day-to-day because I think that’s pretty telling too.

Any other thoughts to share? Things you’re worried about? I’m honestly so grateful to the Taiwan CDC and the health department and government and anyone working towards containing the situation, because it’s been done so carefully compared to many other places. It’s not easy right now but I also know that I am cared for because of the check-up calls and text messages. It’s on all of us to take care in order to properly contain it as well, and I do think everyone is taking it seriously right now and doing our best in terms of containment. I feel so relieved that I’m home now compared to the anxiety I felt in New York, but I definitely worry about how long I’ll likely have to stay here before it’s okay to go back. I’m worried about my friends in New York as well and their day-to-day lives, and I only pray for the best for everyone right now.

Thanks Casey!

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