By John Ployer
Will McGuigan poses with his suitcases as he prepared to return to Canada last week (photo credits: Will McGuigan/Facebook)
A former UPEI student working at UPEI’s campus in Egypt is taking time to himself after the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly brought him back home to Canada.
From his self-isolation in Iona, PEI, William McGuigan told the Cadre that he’s doing well on his own for now.
“I’m taking it in strides,” he said.
For the remainder of his self-isolation McGuigan has distanced himself from the internet and social media, only using a landline for communications. He says he is using his newfound free time as a personal “social-experiment.”
“It’s not so bad. I’m doing puzzles; I have a cat. I’m not having a bad time.”
It was only on Thursday that McGuigan arrived back on his native PEI after a sudden 33 hour trip back home.
After graduating from UPEI in May McGuigan took a job as an accreditation officer at the University of Canada, UPEI’s campus in Cairo, Egypt.
Prior to taking the job he served as president of UPEI Student Union.
McGuigan decided he had to return to Canada on March 16 after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommended that all Canadians abroad return home for their own safety.
McGuigan says that there were very few international flights available with prices changing every minute, ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $5,800.
“It was just absolutely unbelievable. I just booked a ticket and hoped for the best.”
After leaving Cairo McGuigan had a long layover in Brussels. There he saw the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on air travel.
“One I got in there it was dead. There were only two stores open and I saw less than 20 people in the international section.”
McGuigan says he felt very safe in Egypt and had originally intended to stay until he realised how serious the pandemic was becoming.
“It was more about the ‘what if’ question,” he says.
“The reason I came home is ‘what if’ something happens? I felt safe but didn’t want to put myself in jeopardy.”
The move back was an abrupt change of lifestyle for McGuigan, who was not planning on returning to Canada until next Christmas.
“Come March 16 all of my plans for the next year or several years were thrown out the window,” he said.
McGuigan’s job gave him the opportunity to see Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Further work trips across Africa and the Middle East have all been cancelled.
While disappointed, he remains hopeful for the future.
“The future has a lot in store. Everything I hoped to achieve in Egypt I’ll get again in the next part of my life,” he said.
“If everything goes back to normal, one hundred percent I’m going to consider going back. But now that I’m here I’m going to take in all of my options.”
For now he’ll be enjoying a “hermit lifestyle” until his mandatory self-isolation ends. While many of us remain discouraged about the state of the world, McGuigan hopes that the global shutdown we’re experiencing will not stop people from seeing the world in the future.
“I just really hope this virus, this one thing, I hope it doesn’t discourage people from wanting to travel and leave little ol’ Prince Edward Island,” he said.
“Once this goes away I hope people still want to see and world and explore.”