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HerCampusBrown’s Reflections: One Year in the Pandemic

March 12th marked one year since Brown announced a campus-wide evacuation plan in the face of COVID-19. After a virtual end to the spring semester of 2020 and a very different return to Brown this school year, members of our HerCampus community have taken the time to reflect upon the lessons they’ve learned throughout quarantine and a virtual return to college life. 

 “Obviously there are so many things that have changed over the past year, but I think the one that stands out to me the most from a daily routine standpoint is the sedentary lifestyle that accompanies an online semester. This has several implications. 1) I have to actively make plans to do something (even if that something is just a walk by myself) to get out of the house, which means that some days, I don’t. 2) walking to and from class and just around campus generally was a really important way to get out, stretch my legs, clear my mind, and get a change of scenery in order to focus on work better when I sat down at my desk. Now, I don’t have that opportunity and it’s definitely clear in my motivation (or lack thereof). 3) There are way fewer human interactions; obviously, this is on purpose. But regardless, you don’t get the day-to-day small talk with classmates and peers before, between, or after classes that I feel is so refreshing and additive on a college campus. I’m really looking forward to getting back to a routine that involves in-person classes and walking around campus again.” – Maddie S.

“After one year in the pandemic, I feel like I’ve forgotten what life looked like beforehand. As I walked through a somewhat crowded Main Green on a nice day last week, I realized I hadn’t seen that many people in one place since a full year ago. This made me realize just how fun and exciting Brown will be once things are back to normal. At the same time, however, I find myself feeling a little bit nostalgic when I look back at the time I spent with my family in quarantine. While I would much rather have completed my freshman year in a traditional manner, I am grateful to have spent such uninterrupted time with my parents and that we all remained safe and healthy. During hectic times now, I fondly remember the shows I binge-watched, the many new recipes I attempted to cook, and the numerous extended family happy hours I attended. Obviously, I wish life could return to normal and will make sure to be extremely grateful for even the little things when it does, but I do believe that the pandemic has offered everyone the time to reflect, slow down, and enjoy the little things even more. ” – Maddie B.

“This year has felt so long and so impactful in so many ways that it is hard to remember what my perspective was 12 months ago when I was being told I had to evacuate my college campus.  Still, I know there’s a lot I have learned since then, so in this respect, it hasn’t been all bad. I have certainly learned the importance of quality, rather than quantity, in relationships. I also think I have learned more about myself in a year than I otherwise ever could have. I mean under what other circumstances would I have spent so much time with just myself than I did in quarantine? I think I have become a better person, learning to do what’s best for myself but also being selfless and hyper-aware of other people’s wellbeing; most of us college students have had to dramatically change our behaviors in order to do our part in closing out this chapter.  Sure, I miss being able to plan a Spring break with my friends months in advance and know with almost absolute certainty that it will pan out.  But these things will soon be normal again, and although normal life sounds so foreign– and honestly even intimidating– I now will appreciate the normal, something I never did 12 months ago, and will forever remember the lessons this year has taught me.” – Nora

“I’ve spent many a day in quarantine fantasizing about concerts – to be pushed and shoved in a massive crowd screaming the words to a song I don’t know. Ah, bliss. There are definitely some times when I’ll sit and sulk about the days when I could be in a bar getting drinks spilled on me and talking to strangers with zero inhibitions, but, and bear with me here, I’m pretty grateful for a lot of aspects of quarantine. First, I really got to know who I am and the person I want to be. I make fun of the fact that my productive quarantine activity was “getting to know myself,” but I think all of that self-reflection time was really important and I definitely think it improved my mental health. Second, I learned how much one should value the people around her. At the end of the day, your family and close friends are all you really have in this life, so never take them for granted. Random kids at a party aren’t going to be the ones in your corner, so their perception of you doesn’t really matter. Finally, I learned that “fun” is a mindset. You can make the best of any situation, so do it.” – Katharine

“Stripped from everyday distractions, I had to make do with the internal reality I had created for myself. It was an intimidating journey, but I am extremely grateful for it. Between spending quality with my family and making a conscious effort to keep in touch with genuine friendships, I gained radical insight into how few people my soul needs to flourish. I learned that I am drawn to and flourish in environments that foster peace and growth. I miss my dear friends from countries all around the world, but knowing that our realities do not defer that much brings me a sense of unity that encourages me to hope for a reunion. I also got in touch with leisure reading, a “friend” that I had left behind because of our past, busy realities.” – Cecilia 

“One year into the pandemic, there have been surprising silver linings. Virtual club meetings and mock trial tournaments help me to be efficient with my scheduling and reduces my anxiety about having to be in person. To a certain extent, online classes have been beneficial to me as I can do my work at my own pace, but completely asynchronous classes have been difficult for me as I don’t get to interact with my professor. I’m really excited for my first in-person class this summer. The pandemic has taught me a lot about my learning style and how I work best academically and has helped me to find a daily routine that works best for me.” – Lauren 

“This past week, seeing my “one year ago today” Snapchat memories of my empty Freshman year dorm right before I went home to spend many months in lockdown has been a bit surreal. When I reflect back on this past year, I always feel disorientated. How could so much and so little happen within the course of a year? Although everyone’s entire lives were uprooted and drastically different this past year, we were all forced to exist in a simpler and slower paced way because of the pandemic. Never in my life have I gone on so many walks, played more ping pong with my family, or listened to that many hours of music. Even though I would love for life to be “normal” again, I also now recognize just how valuable slowing down and resetting can be. The effects of the pandemic have been heartbreaking and difficult to grapple with, but I have definitely found a silver lining in that I have learned to appreciate the parts of my life that I used to take for granted before the pandemic.” – Bea

Maddie is a junior at Brown from Connecticut. She is concentrating in Economics.
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