Here we are, coming into the 8th week of lockdown and I thought I’d share an update of what life is like in Iowa, USA during this time. The last time I did a post was very close to the start of it all. Obviously I’m an expat, a Brit living in America and it was all about how it felt being cut off from my home. I can confirm that the crying has stopped. Well at the moment it has. For a while I was crying most days. But I’ve been lucky, my flight route is one of a handful of long haul flights that have survived the worldwide cutbacks. Knowing that it IS there still, gives me comfort. If it gets taken away all of a sudden, I guess the crying will start back up. This post is looking more at what day to day life is like, rather than the expat travel side of things.
What Lockdown Is Like In Iowa
Schools & Closures
The schools shut down on March 16th. I’ve not been to work for 7 weeks now. I’m very fortunate and my pay has still continued. So I’m lucky that I’ve not had to worry about how I’m going to pay the bills. The government also gave every adult in the country (as long as they met certain requirements) a cheque for $1200. The idea being if you’ve lost your income, you still have a bit of help to pay for food and bills. If you’re like me and still have an income, you put it back into the economy and buy ‘extra’ stuff.
After a couple of school resume dates being push back, the governor of Iowa announced that the schools will remain shut for the rest of the school year. I can’t say I was surprised, I was kind of expecting it. Compared to the UK, my school in Iowa finishes end of May, UK schools finish around the end of July.
At the same time as school shutting down, a bunch of businesses shut down too. Including: bars, restaurants (open to take away ONLY), cinemas, gyms, attractions, campgrounds…non essential shops shut a little after so the mall has now been closed too.
We WEREN’T on a stay at home order until around the end of April. Until then it was just restricted to gatherings under 10 people. We are now expected to stay at home and only socialise with the people that you live with.
When the lockdown first started I was surprised at how much food was still in the shops. I’d heard horror stories about empty shelves and bulk buying etc etc. We were due to go shopping on the day the schools shut down (we only go shopping once every 2 weeks). The only shelves that were empty were:
- all forms of bread (loaves, buns, rolls….BUT you could still get wraps)
- toilet roll
- boxes of tissues
- kitchen towel
- chicken nuggets/tenders
- frozen burgers
- frozen fries/chips
Other than those nearly everything was still there…pasta, tins of food, eggs. We already had a stock of toilet roll from our last shop, so we could still pretty much get hold of everything that we wanted/needed.
Since that first time, all the shelves were refilled. Toilet roll has only JUST reappeared but all the food items have been back for a while.
What I’ve Been Up To
For ages I struggled to feel productive. When it first started I had all these plans to do loads of writing, updating my website etc. But I struggled to find the motivation. It’s really hard to write about travel when everything is shut. My stats have dropped because no one is travelling. My advert ‘value’ is next to nothing so even if I manage to pull in some traffic, it’s currently making me next to no money. Usually I post every Sunday but I’ve been holding myself to once every 2 weeks instead. If I get out another post as part of my regular schedule, brilliant.
I was also finding it hard emotionally at the start (all the being ‘trapped’ stuff), so a lot of the time I was just like NAH, I’ll do a colouring book instead. I just didn’t have it in me.
I’ve now got ‘better’ with finding motivation. I try and do at least one blog related job for 5 days a week. Whether that’s writing a new post, updating an old one or editing a video for YouTube.
Outside of blogging, everyday I do my 13,000 Fitbit steps (which is 5.5 miles)…and I do them all indoors…you’d be surprised that I don’t get dizzy. I also do around an hour of Spanish on Duolingo everyday. I watch a lot of YouTube videos. I’ve binge watched Tiger King and After Life on Netflix. Currently I’ve read 7 books and I’m half way through an 8th (so nearly 1 book a week). If it’s nice out I go and sit in the hot tub…very thankful for that space, if I close my eyes I pretend I’m on holiday. I’ve been watching the Starlink Satellites go over too.
As an expat, I’m pretty good when it comes to using FaceTime and video chat to communicate. Because my sister is now at home because of the situation, I’ve been able to speak to her more. Me, my parents and sis did an online escape room together for my Mum’s birthday. All of my cousin’s from my Dad’s side of the family did a quiz night together on Zoom. Me and Mum also do a virtual pub quiz together on a Thursday. The lockdown has given us more ways we can do things together.
Non existent. Had 3 holidays cancelled. Was supposed to be in Tennessee last week of April. Cancelled. Was going to Portugal end of June. Cancelled. Latest flight to be cancelled, my flights to Dubai and back (Dubai to Zanzibar is still there but if I can’t get there what good is that). Like I said above, despite all these cutbacks, British Airways have kept a Chicago to London route. I’m hoping it continues but it’s so far lasted a lot longer than most of the others that stopped almost instantly. Most countries have closed their international borders to visitors. I have a British passport so the border is open to me still. Biggest problem is if the flights decide to stop…then I’m stuck.
My car battery died from lack of use. And ironically petrol prices are even cheaper than usual, which is annoying as we can’t take advantage of it.
Places are starting to require face masks in shops and on the flights that are leaving. Never thought I’d ever have to wear a face mask but here we are. I even made my own in preparation (How To Make A Face Mask Out Of A Bandana). My local shop were giving away cloth masks that local college students had been making and I did buy a couple online from Etsy. Cloth masks are meant to be washed frequently so I have a few options now if I need them.
Where Am I Better Off During All This?
I’ve often wondered where I’d be better off during all of this. Sometimes I think being in Iowa is the safer option but now I’m inclined to say otherwise. Of course I want to be at home with my family, more than anything. But you hear of the UK and how the food shops were lacking in almost all types of food. With the heavy population density, the chances are you are going to be closer to someone that has it.
I kinda felt safer in Iowa because I’m so remote. We still had food in the shops. The population is smaller and more spread out, so it felt like my chance of coming into contact with someone that had it was a lot smaller.
But I’m now not so sure.
I know statistics have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but recently Iowa overtook the UK in the number of cases per 1 million people. The UK are doing more tests per million, but their number is smaller. Meaning despite Iowa having a smaller population, the percentage of people infected is higher. Which is madness considering how squished in everyone in the UK is.
Iowa never really 100% locked down, but after just 2 weeks of a ‘stay at home’ order (which no one really listened to), it’s opening back up again, even though the numbers still increase daily. The UK still doesn’t even know when it’ll begin easing restrictions. My sister hasn’t been able to visit my parents in nearly 7 weeks, even though they live in the same town.
The thing that I can’t get my head around, is that Iowa have only been on a Stay At Home order for just over a week. And yet it’s already too much. People aren’t sticking to it, they are carrying on with their daily lives. Refusing to wear masks. Hanging out as normal. How dare the country ‘control’ them and tell them to lockdown! It’s against their ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’! It’s like being a slave! Governors are being compared to Hitler! The state Governors are trying to keep their people SAFE. Not murder them like Hitler did.
Seeing all the protests around the USA make me SO ANGRY. As I said, they are blaming the government etc. The virus isn’t an American problem. It’s going on across the WHOLE WORLD. Almost every single country has these restrictions in place and yet good ole America is fighting against it (can’t say I’m surprised). It’s just selfish. People seem to care more about themselves and how bored they are, than what’s best for those around them.
I read something that said 70% of the US population are ‘sticking to the rules’. But 30% aren’t or are out protesting. 30% of the population of America is over 90 MILLION PEOPLE. That’s more than the WHOLE population of the UK.
For that reason alone. I think I’d be safer in the UK. Yes there are the odd people that are acting as if nothing is happening, but for the most part they are sticking to the rules and are accepting that that’s just how things are for the time being. Every Thursday at 8pm people all over the country stand in their doorways, hang out of the window and clap for the NHS (National Health Service). Thanking them for the great job they are doing. I’m sad that I’m not able to see this for myself. The country all coming together. Everyone that I speak to says it gives them goosebumps.
In America, that doesn’t happen. The healthcare industry is still very much ‘for profit’. Protestors have been standing outside hospitals shouting that the doctors and nurses have been put there by the government to keep up the lies and this whole ‘hoax’. Apparently it’s ‘survival of the fittest’ and if people die then it’s just ‘natural selection’. It’s pretty disgusting.
As an outsider, it’s very obvious that American’s are VERY patriotic. I would say they are more patriotic than Brits. They love their country. The flag. The Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem. But during all of this I’m not sure I can see the sense of national pride? I can’t see the people coming together as a country to do what’s best for the people around them? It’s all every man for themselves.
Even in Iowa I’ve witnessed people going ‘screw it’ and just carrying on as normal. Groups of motorcyclists are still going out cruising. In my town alone on nice evenings driveways are packed out with cars and people all hanging out together in the gardens. People saying they refuse to wear masks. I’m sorry but this isn’t about you. You are putting other people’s lives at risk for your own selfish gain.
To the people that ARE doing the right thing, of course thank you for the things you are sacrificing. For the 90 million that aren’t, I’m sorry but you need to grow up and realise that the whole world are going through the same thing and I’m not sure why you think you are so entitled to think these things don’t apply to you.
Rant over. Stay safe everyone!