October 02, 2020

Living Abroad During COVID-19: Interview with Nicholette Macklin

By: Haven Spanyer

Nicholette Macklin is a 2013 UofSC graduate and serves as the Chair-Elect of the Young Alumni Council. She is currently working abroad in Munich, Germany. The UofSC Alumni Association had the chance to get her take on the pandemic experience while being abroad.

"Dear Fellow Citizens, everyone in Bavaria is kindly restricted from public areas and confined to their own premises. Stay at home. It is still possible to go to work, visit the doctor and purchase groceries. Restriction compliance is strictly monitored and violators will be prosecuted.” This message was broadcasted throughout the streets of Munich shortly after COVID-19 cases in Germany began to increase. And just like that, the city shut down. Quarantine measures happened, what seemed to be, almost immediately. Shops closed, streets emptied and everyone began working from home. This new status quo remained for several weeks.

 

UofSC Alumni Association: How did things change once the number of COVID cases began to rise in Germany?

 

Nicholette: In the beginning, everyone was required to stay at home. You could go grocery shopping and, of course, to the doctor but anything extracurricular was closed or cancelled. Also, countries began closing their borders, so you could not even travel.

 

UofSC Alumni Association: What were things like after restrictions were removed?

 

Nicholette: Once stay at home restrictions were relaxed and shops began to open, masks were required for entry and contract tracing at restaurants was enforced. One major change, from my experience, was the requirement to reserve a table even at bars. Since capacity was limited, most bars no longer allowed customers to freely stand. You had to be at a table. During the summer with everyone wanting to go out, a reservation was almost a must. Another effect of the current situation has been the addition of terraces to restaurants that may not have normally had outdoor seating. We’re all hoping that’s a change that will stick around. 

 

UofSC Alumni Association: How has COVID-19 impacted the workplace?

 

Nicholette: Prior to COVID-19, I travelled frequently for work. Around March, when things began to shut down, most travel plans cancelled themselves and conferences or trade shows eventually cancelled due to restrictions. We are still receiving notices of cancelled trade shows that were planned for the end of the year. Like many organizations, we have had to switch our efforts to virtual with webinars and video calls to replace in-person meetings. From what I can tell, most people that would traditionally report to an office are still working from home or they go on shift schedules for social distancing purposes.

 

UofSC Alumni Association: How has this affected you professionally or personally?

 

Nicholette: Since I’m in business development, not being able to meet with people face to face has taken some getting used to, but the situation has allowed the opportunity for creativity and new processes to be put in place. On a personal level, my husband and I have plans to travel home to South Carolina for the holidays. There’s a chance we will have to quarantine when we arrive and when we travel back to Germany. Many of our expat friends have cancelled their travel plans back home because of everything going on.

 

UofSC Alumni Association: Are there currently any restrictions or requirements in place or have things gone back to normal?

 

Nicholette: We still have to wear masks when we go into public spaces, grocery or retail stores and restaurants. Travel between countries closed for nonessential travel during the peak of the cases and reopened during the summer, but there is a chance that some borders may close due to a second surge. There have also been on and off restrictions on how many households can gather in a single space. There is also a list of risk areas that is constantly being updated. If you travel to a risk area, you may be required to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19.

 

UofSC Alumni Association: Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s interesting to see how different countries have responded to the global pandemic.

 

Nicholette: Thank you.

 

About the interviewee...

 

Nicholette Macklin is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Carolina and serves as Chair-Elect of the Young Alumni Council. She currently lives abroad in Munich, Germany and works as an International Business Development Manager for the South Carolina Department of Commerce.  

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