Essay: Living in a Pandemic
A reflection on the past year.
OInitially, I started my journey as an undergraduate student at Wayne State majoring in Biology. However, after taking a few bio classes, I quickly found out that this wouldn’t be the way for me, and I’m on my way to becoming a major in public health instead.
At the start of my second semester, now majoring in public health, my life was going on normally. Besides starting to hear about the coronavirus in the news and discussing it with my teachers and peers, it didn’t have any major presence in my day-to-day life.
I was a happy and normal student. I ate in the dining room, attended all of my classes in person, and slept in the campus dorms. It was a conventional university experience. I went out with friends, studied in the library, suffered during my midterms, and even planned a trip to New York at the end of the semester.
I had made a wonderful relationship with Hillel of the Metro Detroit Jewish Student Organization on campus and met some amazing new friends. I attended Hillel events and even organized some of my own. In Wayne, I felt secure in openly expressing my Jewish faith and religion, knowing that Hillel was like a family on campus who always hosted me for Shabbat dinner or coffee and understood me spiritually. Everything was going according to plan!
The email the students received to extend spring break for another two weeks was initially a pleasant surprise. Me and my friends took it as a bonus, a chance to relax a bit more before the finals craziness hit us. However, about three weeks later, we noticed that this seemingly small change of plan was nothing less than a single domino falling into a cascade of changes that would alter our daily lives.
A radical change
As the pandemic hit us in full force, my normal and happy life in college changed dramatically. Classes have moved to a virtual format, which has created its share of complications. My pretty dormitory, which I had been using for five months, must have been emptied prematurely. I moved with the help of my family on a rainy afternoon, dressed in masks and gloves. I could no longer meet my friends in the dining room, hang out in the Hillel living room, or just walk around without a mask.
The changes hit me hard. My precious independence that I had gained during my time in college was suddenly cut off and I was forced to resort to Zoom and Facetime calls to connect with my loved ones. Online schooling was totally new territory. Above all, I felt that I was missing something, that I was wasting those precious few years that I had before I needed to join the workforce and become a full-fledged adult.
Being a student during the pandemic was a learning experience, one that certainly shaped more than just my appreciation of the public health field. It made me appreciate the little aspects of campus life that I previously took for granted, such as being able to study freely in a library or being able to have a meal with friends in the dining room before going. ‘have a movie night in a dorm. It’s these little things that I miss the most.
It has now been over a year since I was inside a classroom, over a year since I have been on campus. Now I’m about to come back. The dawn of the new fall semester is fast approaching and I look forward to it. While this may not sound like the student life I left behind all those months ago in March 2020, it is a step towards healing the many difficult changes the pandemic has forced on our lives. daily. It is a step on the road to normality.
As I begin on this path, I walk with a new appreciation for all the little things, a moment chatting with a friend, a mate in a library, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to start my life over again. university.
Loren Safta is a recent graduate in public health from Wayne State University.