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Inside Beat

Reflections on college experience in global pandemic

Existing during a global pandemic has made it hard to return back home after living at college, but the transition has brought many new experiences.  – Photo by Unsplash

Seven months ago, the world was plunged into a situation we were all unfamiliar with. Many of us were bound home, many stuck working the lines at essential businesses or working on the frontlines in hospitals and other medical facilities. The sequence of events, both domestic and global, has opened my eyes to just how tumultuous our world is.

March and April were littered with Zoom calls, game nights, new hobbies and family walks. As the permanence of the pandemic set in, every day almost became monotonous, and I unconsciously fell into a routine of trying to pass time.

I watched a myriad of shows and read a lot of books. It gave me the time to slow down and work on my mental health and address issues that were buried under the former hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

As a social person, it was hard for me to spend an extended period of time not being able to regularly see my friends. If I’m not being social, I tend to convince myself my life is boring and dreary, and I have no friends — we’ve all been there.

I poured my time into my internship at a fashion magazine, which was an outlet where I could branch out and explore topics in fashion I previously wasn’t aware about. There was growth, but there was also a lot of confusion, frustration and sadness. I learned the hard way that I can’t rely on other people to draw my energy from.

I had to glorify spending time by myself, making playlists, watching YouTube videos and making TikToks — yes, I fell down the bandwagon like everyone else.

Reacquainting myself with nature is something that helped me. Getting fresh air and taking in the beauty of your surroundings can balance out the long hours spent inside and highlight the simplicity of things. I also learned that I was so focused on my own life and worries that I didn’t realize I was among thousands of people who are experiencing the same. 

I’ve always enjoyed the pleasures of living at home — having home-cooked meals and sleeping in my own bed — but spending months on end away from the life I had on campus has presented an ongoing struggle.

From the start of this semester, I’ve been plunged back into the robotic routine of virtual meetings, discussion posts, abrupt deadlines and papers given on short notice.

During these times, I often turn to the world around me for sources of joy, but that option has flown out the window in the war for democracy we are embroiled in. Home is subjective, and maybe it’s something that changes over time.

But, while the environment around us may be inundated with hate, it has also brought comfort and solidarity from the shared experience we are living in. It has taught us to be more grateful for the things we previously overlooked and have led many to discover a side passion or fulfill a dream they always had.

The world has come together in impactful ways — through civil rights protests and now through our right to vote in the upcoming presidential election. 

We’ve all grown closer to some people and farther apart from others. Sometimes things aren’t always supposed to play out the way you expect them to. Another lesson I’ve learned from living at home is that it’s okay to have a quiet life — to do things that make us happy without having to make it seem cool for social media.

I now treasure spontaneously making plans with my friends and the feeling that no time has passed, reconnecting with family and just simply finding the small joys that may have previously seemed mundane.

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