After a long year and a half, Europe is really turning a corner! Progress against Covid in Europe is on the rise. It has been very interesting to experience the difference in news reporting here. I saw a lot of articles in the European/Portuguese press earlier in the year, when it became clear that the EU really messed up with their strategy around placing orders for vaccines, but then the news around vaccines was quiet until information about the projected vaccination rollouts began. Since we are used to a more “editorial” approach to the news, Tom and I were baffled by this. This was exacerbated but the fact that throughout the quiet stage, we were still reading article after article in American news sources about how horrible Europe was doing in the fight against Covid.
I still have not really figured it out, but it seems like a mix of moving on from old news and trust that the government has a duty of care of their citizens. You could find few who disagree with the fact that the EU did not place their orders in a timely manner, however once a plan was in place, it was like the mindset was that there was not a reason to harp on the fact that it was not done earlier. And many people seem to basically take the government at their word that they would formulate a plan for vaccinations. Perhaps it is easier to believe this given the approach used in most of Europe around accessing health care.
I, however, am a little less trusting so I dug into the numbers back in April. I found that Portugal, and most of the EU, was basically 2 months behind the US and that our vaccination numbers were progressing accordingly. The Portuguese news publication I read has a vaccination tracker at the top of the page and each day I see it going up about 1%, and it is starting to move even more quickly. In fact, as I write this , 18.9% of adults in the EU/EEA are fully vaccinated, and 42.8% have had at least one shot. The EU maintains that the 70% inoculation rate should be achieved by mid-July.
We are seeing this on our lives too. Tom has already received his first vaccine. Even more notable, my 27-year-old brother who lives in Berlin has his first shot scheduled for next week! I would likely get mine by the end of June, but the kids and I are spending time in North Carolina this summer and will all get vaccinated then.
Going through this experience as a first-year expat has been hard. It is difficult to know which struggles are related to being an expat, which are specific to Portugal, or which are Covid related. I have decided not to make any judgements about what expat life is like, or what living in Portugal is like, until we have a year of normalcy. Even as a middle-aged woman, I must remind myself to keep this perspective! But do you know what is incredible? How our first-year students have thrived, despite the circumstances! Check out what just a couple of parents of first year students had to say in our member Facebook group.
Fall of 2021 is looking good for students in Europe. In the Netherlands, for instance, students have access to free rapid tests and can now sign up for classes on campus (with limited capacity of course). The Dutch government has even insured providers of big events like concerts, festivals and sporting events that will take place between July 1-December 30th and will reimburse 80% of the costs if these events are cancelled due to covid. For a skeptic like me, that makes me feel more confident in the return to normalcy for the fall! I have planned trips as well for later in the summer and plan to go to Switzerland and Ireland. I am having a great time figuring out all the schools I will visit throughout the next year as well!
To celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel, we have a very special offer this month! For June only, we are rolling back membership and best fit list prices to pre-covid rates! The membership option is for new members only (master’s or bachelor’s), and will allow you to lock you in the duration of your membership at the lower rate! All members can take advantage of our Best Fit pre-Covid rate and pay just $300 to get information about 3-5 programs, handpicked by me, that align with the student’s interests, qualifications, budget, and more! Knock on wood, we will not live through another pandemic in our lifetimes, so I do not anticipate offering a special like this in the future! Cheers to a future full of international opportunities!