Visiting Family During COVID-19 (Germany to New Zealand)

Apr 27, 2021 · 3 min read · Leave a comment
Marc Shaw GitLab profile

The story started in January 2020, around the time chatter of COVID-19 started. I was concerned, but still relatively confident I would be able to travel home and see my grandparents later that year. The initial plan was to fly home to New Zealand in November 2020, and fly back to Berlin in March 2021. Little did I know that countries would nearly all but shut their borders completely over the next few months, restricting travel to only residents and citizens. After the first lockdown, and as summer approached, COVID-19 improved drastically in Berlin with Germany being one of the few countries that were handling the virus with poise and targeted/reasonable restrictions. Back in New Zealand, there was a very strict lockdown that lasted a couple of months, aiming to eradicate the virus from the country.

Fast forward to October 2020, Germany was getting hit with the start of their second wave and by November we had gone back into a lockdown. New Zealand on the other hand had introduced a strict quarantine system, one which required you to book months in advance, with openings often hard to come by. Having not seen my grandparents for two and a half years, I was anxious to see them again. This feeling was compounded due to health concerns unrelated to COVID-19, which caused two of them to be admitted to a hospital in late 2020.

A year after the start of the story in January 2021, we had just entered our third consecutive month of being locked down in Berlin, Germany. I mentioned to my manager that I am thinking about trying to get a quarantine slot to make the 30+ hour flight from Berlin to New Zealand, her instant reaction was of support and asked if there was anything she could help with. I mentioned that nothing is set, but I will keep her updated on booking a quarantine slot. Luckily I managed to snap up a slot (after a week of trying) for the 2nd of February. I then booked my flights and messaged my manager. Since the time zones difference between Germany and New Zealand was around 12 hours, she sorted out meetings and suggested I take a few days off after landing to get over my jet lag even though it was in the same release. It was the genuine care shown and ease at making changes on short notice that I wholly appreciated.

Throughout the whole experience, it has reinforced to me that GitLab practices the values that it preaches, and for me, this was shown through family and friends being put first, work is second. The few months that I have been in New Zealand have made life for me exponentially better (given the circumstances). Living in a country without COVID-19 has allowed me to visit all my family, friends, and colleagues around the country, I have attended street festivals with over 100,000 people, indoor concerts, surfed, got my tattoo, gone hiking. This would not have been possible on such short notice for a lot of companies, potentially at all. Every day I reflect on where I am currently in terms of job, location, and everyone around me, and just spend a few minutes appreciating just how lucky I am.

Ngarunui Beach, Raglan Cubadupa, Wellington
Raglan Cubadupa
Blue Spring, Putāruru Kāpiti Coast
Blue Springs Raglan

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