West Bloomfield resident Alison Schwartz, pictured standing in the back, visits with family members in the United Kingdom earlier this summer. Prior to her recent trip, Schwartz hadn’t seen her parents for more than two years due to COVID-19.

West Bloomfield resident Alison Schwartz, pictured standing in the back, visits with family members in the United Kingdom earlier this summer. Prior to her recent trip, Schwartz hadn’t seen her parents for more than two years due to COVID-19.

Photo provided by Alison Schwartz


Pandemic creates ‘crazy’ journey overseas for West Bloomfield woman’s family

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 9, 2021

 West Bloomfield resident Alison Schwartz is pictured with her sons, Teddy, William and Michael, along with her husband, Dave. Schwartz recently returned home after taking a trip that had its share of challenges.

West Bloomfield resident Alison Schwartz is pictured with her sons, Teddy, William and Michael, along with her husband, Dave. Schwartz recently returned home after taking a trip that had its share of challenges.

Photo provided by Alison Schwartz

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield resident Alison Schwartz recently returned from a “crazy” journey overseas.

She is originally from the United Kingdom, but after coming to the United States in 1998 due to a work project her husband, Dave, was involved with at Ford, the couple decided to settle locally.

Since making the move, Schwartz said she has visited her family in the U.K. at least once a year.

However, that was prior to a monumental change in world history.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schwartz hadn’t returned to her native country for more than two years.

With the strain of not seeing her family for so long and her parents’ 60th wedding anniversary on the horizon, she decided the time was right to take another trip to the U.K.

Schwartz boarded a flight July 17 and arrived in the U.K. the following day, before returning home Aug. 10.

“The pandemic made it so difficult to travel,” she said. “My dad is 87 now, my mom’s 80, and I just felt like I had to go over there, despite all the obstacles.”

Despite making the decision to go, Schwartz still had reservations.

“I was not sure what to do about going there because the numbers had spiked, and my husband was really concerned about it. But I just felt I had to see my parents, and as it was, two weeks before I arrived, my dad was in hospital; he had gotten (a) kidney infection. … It was really scary. I was so relieved I got to see him and my mom.”

Traveling internationally during a pandemic can come with an abundance of challenges.

“I had to really navigate the U.K. government’s — it was like the U.K. customs or whatever,” Schwartz said. “I had to go into the government site, try to figure out what steps I needed to take, and at the time when I flew, you had to quarantine for 10 days when you arrived. I had to have a test before I went, a COVID test. Then I had to have a test on day two when I arrived in the U.K., a test on day eight, and then on day 10, I was allowed to leave my parent’s house.”

Schwartz spent her first 10 days in the U.K. at her parent’s home, which is in a suburb of London.

The location of her whereabouts was no secret, as that information was required to be provided after arriving at the airport.

“You had to have a locator form, and everything needed to be filled in beforehand,” Schwartz said. “There were just lots of steps, and you were very, very concerned that you would miss something and get turned away from the airport. … It was stressful, but it was worth all the hassle.”

Schwartz traveled alone, as Dave has Type 2 diabetes and he was concerned about the possibility of contracting COVID.

Despite all the challenges along the way, Schwartz recalled the moment when she was able to reunite with her parents at their home.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “There were so many obstacles. … I was so happy to see them, and they were so happy to see me. (It) was such a wonderful feeling to be together again at last.”

During her trip, Schwartz was also able to spend time with other members of her family, as well as Dave’s.

However, even after being allowed to wander about after being quarantined for 10 days, she still had some apprehensions.

“I was very cautious the whole time I was there,” she said. “I went shopping with my mom and dad to local shops a few times, but I was very, very cautious because of the high rates of COVID in the U.K.; I was really nervous. I knew I had to have a negative test before coming back to get back into the United States, so I had to be very cautious, and I had to be very cautious because I didn’t want my mom and dad — I didn’t (want to) pick something up and bring it to them when I was living in their house.”

Dave discussed what concerned him about his wife’s trip.

“(The) risk of contracting COVID, probably more so at the airports than when she was there,” he said. “It was also potentially picking something up and putting her family at risk a little bit. And then the last risk was not being able to come home. At the end of the trip, if she didn’t test negative, she wasn’t (going to) be able to fly for whatever the quarantine period was; it was another 10 days, I think.”

Dave said he was more “nervous” about his wife’s trip than excited.

“Logically, it wasn’t a good decision — numbers were going up over there, the quarantine time, and the cost of flights and travel. But it became an emotional call,” he said. “We decided that it would be good for her to go. … The trip met all our objectives, and she got back, so it was a relief.”

Schwartz said she and Dave have been married for 32 years and have three children — Michael, 27; William, 23; and Teddy, 18.

Michael and William were born in the U.K., and Teddy was born in Michigan.

All of the family members have dual citizenship.

Despite the ties she has developed here, Schwartz, who works in public relations for the CKC Agency in Farmington Hills, still reflects about the country she used to call home.

“There have been times when I questioned whether we did the right thing, but we have built a life here, and we’ve got many friends — friends who are like family,” she said. “I love it here, but I do miss the U.K., as well. I’m kind of torn sometimes.”

For all there is to like about life in the U.S., when it comes to her taste buds, Schwartz gives her native country the edge.

“I think the food is much better in the U.K., especially things like cakes, biscuits, tea time, and things like that,” she said. “When I first arrived, some of the people I met to start with, they probably thought that it was very strange that I was always making tea or coffee, but that’s how it is in the U.K.”

When reflecting on her trip, Schwartz recalled one part of it in particular in which “you certainly knew that you were in a pandemic.”

“The airports were so empty, especially Heathrow Airport when I landed. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “Normally, there’s like a sea of people. … It was so weird.”

Despite that experience, Schwartz said she is “very glad” she went on the trip, with one of the highlights of it being the opportunity to teach her mom about a modern form of communication.

“Apart from anything else, my mom knows how to text, so that’s really good. That’s made her happy,” she said. “It was wonderful being with them, and as I was quarantined, we had lots of time together chatting, drinking lots of tea and eating lots of nice cakes.”

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