From Chicago through Belarus, and home to Latvia

Design student Evija Krištopāne was forced to continue studies remotely after the global Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic also hit the US, so she searched for a way to make it back to her native Latvia, and the road home lead her through Minsk in Belarus, according Latvian Television's “Panorāma” broadcast on April 15.

Evija Krištopane: I'm studying in the US and I've been there since the beginning of January. When there was talk of returning home, it wasn't like I immediately planned to return, because I had school. But at the end of the semester the school decided to move all studies to an online regimen. With that we began studying online, I decided that I need to try to get home. The Latvian embassy in the US couldn't suggest any good options, only pointing out that it's possible to return through Minsk. We developed other options, but we understood that the best one is through Minsk.

Latvian Television: How easy was it to get to Minsk? Did you need to get a visa? How did you get from Minsk to the Latvian border?

EK: Getting to Minsk was tiring. We flew a long way from Chicago to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Amsterdam. After that from Amsterdam to Minsk. The trip was more long than hard. There were very little people and short lines. At the Minsk airport we needed to get the shortest insurance, which was two days, needed to get a transit visa, go through border control, then we could head to the border. We headed there by taxi, which we had previously booked. That's the most popular option and all Latvians we met at the Minsk airport were doing the same thing.

LTV: Was heightened safety observed on flights from the US?

EK: In the US, if you compare it to the situation in Latvia, people themselves are much more careful in terms of the virus and observing safety. Airplanes were very empty. The airplane from Amsterdam to Mink was completely packed and you couldn't observe any distance there. In the taxi no additional measures were observed, it was on our own conscience. For example, were there masks and disinfectant - we had it.

LTV: You got to the Latvian border, did you also sign any documents for the border guard?

EK: We got to the border point, then crossed the border. On the Latvian side we had to confirm that we're going to observe a two-week quarantine, that we won't leave home.

LTV: How did you get from Daugavpils to your home?

EK: By car, family came to get us with two cars and left the second one for me.

LTV: Do you plan to return to the US?

EK: I think so. Currently our school is discussing whether they will be able to resume a normal study regimen in the fall. In Latvia I think the discussion is that people will already be able to go to festivals in the summer. In the US the discussion is that in the fall nothing will have ended yet. But I definitely plan on studying.

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