College Student, Meet Pandemic

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So, you want to know what life was really like for a college student during the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, to put it simply, the first answer that comes to mind may be a bit humdrum along with a bitter aftertaste of truth. However, after reconsideration, there’s a second answer that exposes the lessons I’ve learned throughout the challenges and struggles. These lessons have led to personal growth and soft skills that can be useful in all aspects of life. The latter is what makes the pandemic not entirely terrible. I know this isn’t quite ideal, but let’s review the past year, shall we?

The Storm

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The former answer starts with academic days essentially consisting of the following: waking up to an alarm, rolling out of bed, logging onto Zoom classes, trying to stay focused among a million distractions, logging off of Zoom classes, completing multiple hours of assignments, then repeating it all the following day. Although there were a handful of exceptions where universities incorporated some in-person classes, students were practically on autopilot for two and a half semesters. On top of these stagnant academic days, students had to tackle “social bubbles”. Granted technology and social media are of high quality in today's society, the pandemic exposed just how difficult it is to maintain meaningful connections with people over the internet alone. Furthermore, not only was it difficult to check in on your own friends, it was difficult enough to check on yourself and your own state, mentally and physically. Every day, it was scrolling through social media, looking back at photos where times were better, imagining all of the things that you could be doing if there weren’t a pandemic. It almost felt as if all that there was to do was compare things to the way they could be. The adjustment from the lively spring of 2019 to the isolating fall of 2020 was no easy task. However, it’s because of how we were perceiving things that students had difficulty. It was exactly the comparison and negativity that allowed our frustrations with the pandemic to flourish. Rather than thinking of how things could be, find ways to be grateful for the way things are.

The Rainbow After The Storm

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To answer what it was like as a college student to live in a pandemic after considering the previously mentioned, I wouldn't want to take back any of my time. I have learned so much about myself, others, empathy, and my new personal favorite, gratitude. As previously mentioned, a lot of college students were stuck comparing themselves socially or comparing how they were spending time to previous experiences which ultimately led to a pretty challenging pandemic. I can’t be hypocritical, I have always fallen guilty of comparing myself to others or constantly thinking that I should be doing something else with my time. However, it’s been through this pandemic that I realized the true meaning of “stop and smell the roses”. It took me almost until the end of the pandemic, but I decided to stop thinking about the past, stop worrying about the future, and simply live in the present. Since my older sister played a sport in college, I never saw her on seasonal breaks, including most of the summers. She moved out of our family home a few weekends ago and, being at school, I couldn’t see her leave. My younger sister is going to college soon and I probably won’t get to spend as much time with her in the future as I had in the past. The pandemic gave me the greatest gift of time to spend with my two sisters, whom I love dearly. This is only one example of how I turned my perspective on being home around. I am grateful to have had all of the family dinners, the laughs with old friends upon reconnection, the opportunity to learn more about and support others who may have things worse, and finally, the opportunity to learn more about myself and how to look for the good in things.

Are you going to try to look at things differently now?

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Meredith Schubiger

Meredith Schubiger

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