International students from Spain, Lucia Puche, left and Cristina Cervilla on one of their outdoor adventures here on Vancouver Island at Heart Lake. (Submitted photo)

COVID-19: Kwalikum Secondary exchange students worry about outbreak in Spain

One teen endures a harrowing trip home

Two international students from Spain who attend school at Kwalikum Secondary can’t help but worry about the severe COVID-19 outbreak in their home country.

Spain ranks second to Italy as having the most cases, with more than 10,000 people having died from the virus.

Grade 11 student Cristina Cervilla was able to go back home but the trip was harrowing and stressful one.

“I didn’t want to go home but my agency told me I have to go back,” said Cristina, who spoke to The News from her home in Andalucia. “I love it there but I had no choice. I really wanted to stay and my family also told me to stay.”

Cervilla said it took her 35 hours of gruelling travel that started from Comox Airport to Vancouver International Airport.

“I had to wait six hours in Vancouver for flight to Toronto then from there took another plane to Madrid. Since there were no flights available in Spain, I had to take a 10-hour bus ride to Andalucia. It was hard.”

Cervilla recounted that as soon as she arrived in Madrid, the police and military told them to start physical distancing themselves from one another.

READ MORE: B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

“I was a bit scared,” she said. “They weren’t mad but I felt they were scared.”

The bus ride, Cervilla described was a bit weird for her.

“Because they want us to be far apart, there were only 15 people inside a bus that can carry over 50 passengers,” said Cervilla. “We were seated in a zig-zag,”

Upon arriving home, Cervilla had to quaratine herself for two weeks. She said she’s happy to be with her family and knowing they’re all safe. She was on her fifth day of isolation.

While Cervilla is happy to be back home, she can’t help but feel sad about what the virus is doing to a lot of people and families.

“There are a lot of people dying alone,” said Cervilla. “We don’t have enough hospitals and medical staff to take care of all of them. It’s so bad.”

Lucia Puche, who is in Grade 10, was advised by her family not to go back home.

“They didn’t want me to take a risk,” said Puche. “I wanted to go home because I was worried for my family. But they told me they are safe so I am happy. My family told me I would be safer here.”

Puche is learning to cope with the stay-at-home edict that health authorities have been advising to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I sleep a lot,” Puche said. “But I do a lot with the family I am staying with. I sometimes cook, we watch TV and we play a bit of badminton in the yard. I am OK.

Both Cervilla and Puche are very active athletes in school. They are both members of the Kondors basketball team.

Cervilla said she plans to comeback next school year and graduate at Kwalikum Secondary.

“I want to study here and take medicine,” said Cervilla. “I really love Canada.”

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