Lisanne Braat

Postdoc | Geomorphologist | Video editting

Moving to California – Coronavirus

March 17th, 2020

This week I moved to Pasadena, California, USA, for my Rubicon research project at Caltech. Arranging the visa, travel, and move has not been easy. And as you might have guessed, the Coronavirus did not help.

Due to the travel ban from Europe to the USA that was announced by Trump on March 12, I suddenly had to change plans. I had plane tickets for me and my partner (Bas) for March 19, so that I would arrive a few days before I would have to start work. Since that was not an option anymore, I could either cancel or rebook my flight to leave the next day. Since it was not clear how long this travel ban was going to last, I decided to rebook for the next day, so I could arrive before the travel ban would officially start. After trying to reach KLM for about 9 hours, I finally managed to change my flight to March 13. Due to the time difference, people canceling holiday flights (so there was space on the plane) and the possibility to change flights at no cost (offered by KLM), I managed to enter the USA just in time. :)

Sadly, this change meant that Bas could not come with me, because it was unclear if he would be able to return home 3 weeks later. In addition, because I had to leave right away, saying goodby to Bas and my family felt very rushed. Also, the last-minute packing of my suitcase was very stressful. :(

Surprisingly I was not checked in any way at Schiphol or at LAX if I was potentially ill. A bit worrying if you ask me. This must also have changed drastically the few days after I arrived if I can believe the news. The news showed long lines at security because additional health checks were put in place.

The first 3 nights I stayed in a motel/hotel from which I looked for an apartment. I had to find an apartment as soon as possible because Caltech notified me that the CDC wanted me in self-isolation for two weeks. Two weeks in a hotel did not seem like a possible option. First of all, isolation would have been difficult due to housekeeping and the problem of getting food and secondly, that would have been very expensive. I was not and still am not showing any symptoms, so with more then necessary social distancing, it seemed safe enough to look for an apartment.

Luckily I could arrange several viewings the first day and the second morning and I found a great apartment where I could move in immediately. I got essential furniture delivered with urgency from IKEA, so I did not have to sleep on the floor. Which was btw crazy cold, because it took me a while to figure out how to light the gas heater...

All in all, I am very happy that I managed to get to California at all. Furthermore, I am very proud of myself that I figured out everything by myself with little preparation. Arranging things, crazy amounts of paperwork and making quick decisions is not something I am typically good at (or like). But this adventure is showing me that I can do all these things if I need to. Even in self-isolation!

The next steps are getting supplies to survive for about two weeks and complete my check-in with Caltech!

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Flight (2)
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Cold in new apartment

Mars / Earth