With a focus on mental health, the PRA team wanted to share their personal experience with COVID-19 – the ups, downs and in-betweens.
How COVID-19 Pulled a 360 Degree Turn on My First Year of University
Intern, Ameera Es-Sabar
Hugs and tears and goodbyes and promises for another new year with friendly old faces. That’s what I thought the end of my first year of university would entail. One week to pack EVERYTHING I owned into four tiny boxes, friends rushing off campus without getting the opportunity to say goodbye and an empty residence without a friendly face in sight. That’s what the end of my first year of university actually involved. Not to mention the uncertainty of whether or not I will even get to spend another year with those who I grew close to in the span of a few months.
No one expects a drastic event, such as a pandemic, to occur in their lifetime, especially not during the prime of their early adulthood. Students should be worrying about passing final exams, completing their degrees, finding a boyfriend (OK, maybe the last one isn’t crucial, but it would still be nice). Instead, students are still worrying about all of those things, while also worrying about whether or not they will spread this life-threatening virus onto older members of their family or even get to enjoy what was supposed to be, as the kids call it, a “lit summer.”
Now, rather than sitting in my usual seats in lecture halls, spending two hours at the cafeteria hanging out with my friends or walking around campus, enjoying the Toronto views, I am sitting in the basement of my Vancouver home, partaking in Zoom calls with my professor and forty other students, and cherishing the few moments that I leave my house to go for a walk, while avoiding the judging stares of those who fear being infected by what they probably see as an irresponsible teenager going outside.
I consider myself an introvert, and I’ll admit that during the first few weeks of my basement quarantine, I quite enjoyed the serenity that came with lounging on my couch alone or sitting in my backyard and basking in the sun. However, even for me, quarantine soon became a little too lonely. Sure, my friends and I would partake in low quality FaceTime calls where we could barely hear each other, and at least one person would always cut out (it was usually me), but it’s not the same as face-to-face contact, which is what I miss the most about school. However, being forced to stay home also allowed me to have much more creative writing time and encouraged me to spend more time with my family than I probably would have, so I can’t argue that quarantine doesn’t have its pros. For instance, my mum and I started cooking together, which, without quarantine, I probably wouldn’t have spared the time to do. So, I’d encourage all of my fellow angsty peers to take advantage of the much-needed individual and family time in front of them.
I have no idea what to expect in the coming weeks, months or even year. As much as I desperately miss school and would love to return in the Fall, that is not up to me. Or you. What I can say, though, is to make the most of what seems like a terrible situation. For one, if you’re reading this, COVID-19 is probably not as terrible for you as it is for many others. Learn something new during these trying times, such as how to draw or write or cook or play the guitar. Take a class. Tell your family you love them. Smile and breathe in the fresh air and go for walks. Enjoy right now, because there may not be another opportunity to have this much time to do so.