Tanner Smith traveled to Spain to teach English as a second language. Now, thanks to a nationwide lockdown, his day consists of sharing memes on the internet with his family back home.
Smith arrived in Lleida about a month ago, where he started teaching at a nearby school. Today, though, the purpose of his trip is “nonexistent,” he told Faithwire.
On Saturday, Spain became the second European country to impose a nationwide lockdown, ordering its 47 million residents to mostly stay isolated in their homes as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world. As of Monday afternoon, Spain had recorded 7,753 cases of COVID-19, along with 288 deaths.
The Spanish prime minister’s wife, Maria Begona Gomez Fernandez, is among those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Smith said he was initially told last week the schools would shut down for two weeks starting this week. By lunchtime last Thursday, though, plans changed: all schools were shuttered on Friday.
“So Thursday was our last day and I haven’t seen anyone since then,” he said, sitting in the flat he shares with a French language assistant. There were two Spanish students there, too, but they have since left. “I talk to my parents like twice a day every day,” Smith added. “I talk to my brother and his wife.”
Over the last few days, Smith has survived on lentils, sardines, Netflix, and yoga. He’s spent a decent amount of time reading, too.
There’s not much else to do, he said, describing the streets of Lleida as something like a scene from Will Smith’s 2007 doomsday movie “I Am Legend,” in which a scientist, the lone survivor of a human-induced plague, fends off bloodthirsty mutants as he wanders New York City’s barren streets.
That tendency to worry — or to assume the worst-case scenario — is something Smith said he’s had to “actively fight.”
“Faith is definitely a big aspect of that and understanding, like, ‘OK, what are the promises in Scripture,’” he said. “I’ve been reading through a lot in Genesis over the last couple months … and reading about Noah recently and just reflecting on this promise that God has made this world and that he’s made it for us and it’s not going to be completely destroyed again. That is a promise. That is something we can hold firm to, even if it gets pretty chaotic and pretty scary.”
Smith explained he’s been doing a lot of meditating “to force myself into a here and now, present moment versus thinking about the future and what happens next.”
In the meantime, he said he’s laughing and joking with friends and family back home, sharing “funny memes that have been floating around on Facebook.”
Tomorrow’s big task, Smith said, is venturing to a nearby drug store for a few groceries.
While the U.S. is not experiencing the national lockdown Spain is currently facing, it’s important to practice the social distancing measures recommended by our national and local leaders. Since there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, and because our bodies don’t have any natural immunities to it as we do with the seasonal flu, it’s important for people to follow all precautions right now, avoiding any unnecessary outings, frequently washing our hands, and — outside of seeking medical help — isolating ourselves if we begin to exhibit symptoms of the virus.
For more information about COVID-19, visit coronavirus.gov.