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#4 Lessons I Learned Through The Pandemic

As a freshman in 2020, I was devastated when the pandemic started. Everyone thought it was going to last one month or two, maximum. I guess we were all wrong, right? As the year went by, we settled in and accepted it. But when 2021 started, I guess we all believed it would come to an end. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus seems far from over. At least in Brazil.

And as we completed our first quarantine anniversary in March, I realized there has to be a way to see the good about all that. I mean, we can’t just throw away a whole year, especially when we’re young. So here’s my list of things I learned throughout that whole experience. I hope it helps you too, somehow:

Be open minded!

As I was starting my degree in Journalism, I thought I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. I was sure I would work for a magazine. Well, two weeks went by and, after the first classes, I got hit by a hundred ideas, perspectives, and different roads I wanted to take. And I discovered that I could have so many nice experiences with things that I have never thought about before. 

Then I realized: If you focus too much on one thing, lots of opportunities can pass you by and you end up not giving it a chance. I could have given up on so many amazing opportunities if I had gotten into college with a very specific thing on my mind.

College is a place where, above all, you learn things about yourself. And that was definitely one of the first things I learned as I started my college journey. 

Get yourself out there

During high school, I was a very shy and reserved person. Actually, I still am, but as I was starting my first year of college, I knew right then that I needed to open myself up – or else I would end up sticking alone. Chances are that people will love to meet you if you are brave enough to reach out. If you remain on your shell, maybe you could lose friends that you could keep for life.

It was very important for me to realize that people would not go after me at all. I knew I had to take that first step, take my chances. Overthinking and being scared of getting embarrassed can sometimes take the best of you. And as you enter a new environment, you have to try your best to let go. That’s what I did. And guess what? I don’t regret it for a second. 

Value the people you love – especially your parents!

The first three months of 2020 were ultra special to me. In order to go to my dream college, I had to move states. So, in February and March, before covid came in, I was actually able to live a bit of the college life. 

As I moved away from my home, family and friends, I started to notice how little I valued them when they were only a corner away. Hundreds of miles away (and with a bunch of things I needed help for), I started to think about how many hugs and interactions I should have initiated when I had the chances to. 

As the pandemic stroke and I returned home, my attitude changed. I started spending more time with my parents, stopped using the phone while they were around so I could enjoy their presence, and tried to remain in touch with my friends as much as possible in the pandemic. This “second chance” to enjoy my hometown and actually cherish the people around me has been a true blessing, and shifted a lot of the perspectives I had as the year started.

Everything has a reason to be

Even though returning home was something that I valued, the frustration of losing my first year in college kicked in. Back home, I wanted to return to São Paulo all the time. I missed my friends, my apartment, my campus, everything about the city. And I was truly hoping for a soon and safe return. 

That was until my pet dog fell ill and passed away not long after. All I could think about was that, if I were away then, I would have lost all of those precious last moments. After all, I was grateful that I got to spend this year by her side and be able to be home with the ones I loved by that time. 

I then realized that you can never be in the wrong place. Everything happens for a specific reason, and has a lesson to teach you. No matter how much I thought that I was at the wrong place, the universe came to tell me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And to me, that was super important. 

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The article above was edited by Giulia Gianolla

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Malu Jansen

Casper Libero '23

A journalism student that probably watches too much reality tv.
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