COVID in College: Finding the Silver Linings
When I imagined what my college experience would be like as an incoming freshman, I admittedly did not imagine the disruption that a global pandemic would bring. However, as I reflect back on my past four years, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.
Needless to say, COVID came unexpectedly, and was majorly disruptive to my freshman year. I still remember getting the email from my university telling us we had a week to pack up our things and vacate the campus. It was only March, and I was finally acclimating to life in college. The last thing I needed, or wanted, was to cut my year short and leave everything behind.
The next few months were a whirlwind of uncertainty, Zoom calls, and adapting to life in isolation. For months, I mourned what my freshman year would’ve become. I constantly imagined what it would be like if COVID hadn’t happened – if I was still at school, having a normal college experience. Myself, and most other college students during COVID were repeatedly praised for our resiliency. But I didn’t want to be resilient – I just wanted to have a normal second semester of my freshman year.
I was thankful to be back on campus in August 2020, though school felt far from normal. Social distancing, mask wearing, and biweekly COVID testing was now part of being a college student. Gone were the days of walking across a lively campus, nights out with friends, and exploring New Orleans with ease. Even though I was back at school, I still yearned for the normal college experience that I had always imagined I would get to have.
It wasn’t until Spring 2021, when vaccines became widely available, and life started to regain normalcy, that I could make sense of what I had just experienced. For months, I was unhappy and thinking of what could have been. When life started to return to normal, I felt a newfound sense of appreciation and gratitude for the little things. I made a promise to myself that for the rest of my college experience, I would embrace the mundane, but particularly, the moments of togetherness.
As a senior with just a few weeks left of her college experience, I can confidently say that I kept that promise to myself. Though my college experience was incredible, it was also challenging. COVID taught me to never take anything for granted, because you truly never know what is around the corner. When I left school in March 2020, I was sad about leaving what could become my college experience. Now that I’m leaving one last time, I am sad about leaving what has become my college experience. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but looking back now, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be.