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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

COVID-19 has dramatically shifted our lives in the last month, affecting everything from where we live, to what we eat, to where we go (or, most likely, don’t go), to how we socialize, and how we act. While many of these adjustments are far from ideal, I have been trying to seek out the silver linings in this period of quarantine. Note: Regardless of your situation, I sincerely wish for you and your family’s safety, health, and well-being. I recognize that this is a very difficult time for many and do not wish to diminish anyone’s struggles. It’s important to seek out the positives in life even when times are hard! 

Environmental Impact

Mankind’s forced retreat into their homes in the wake of the pandemic has had positive outcomes for the environment. Visible smog and pollution has been reduced in the last couple of weeks due to decreases in transportation, air traffic, and production. Pictures taken within the last few weeks depict clean skies — typically unheard of — in some of the most densely populated cities in the world. Check out these photo comparisons on one of my favorite blogs, Demilked!

Coronavirus Has Brought Us Closer Together

On a very personal level, I am happy to be back under the same roof as my parents for this temporary time period. Sure, they may annoy me with their countless life lessons and clippings from newspapers, but I am grateful for this opportunity to live with them before I fully launch into the world and a career. On a national and global level, I believe that in some ways the virus is harboring a sense of universal empathy. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by this catastrophe, which unites us together. It also humbles us, reminding us that we are all just human beings and that we should try to care for each other. 

Contrarily, This Time Reminds Us to Be Mindful 

In many ways I have been shocked by some of the disturbing comments, social media posts, and actions of people around me with regards to the pandemic. This is particularly applicable to those in my hometown, where COVID-19 is present, but certainly not as prevalent or frightening as in New York City. Many of my neighbors are amongst those disobeying social distancing measures, refusing to wear face masks, prancing around with their friends and drinking wine in their yards — it’s obscene. There have been about ten scandals and fights in my hometown’s Facebook group in the past week about offensive and derogatory, sometimes racially-motivated comments. 

It is upsetting, disgraceful, and shameful that people are behaving in such an inappropriate fashion during these dire times. But, their ignorant actions highlight and underline a reminder to myself to be mindful, to think before I say or act, and to be considerate of other people’s struggles.

Quarantine Gives Us Time to Slow Down and Think

Our normal day-to-day lives pre-COVID were hectic, bustling, never-ending, and stressful. Many of us never had a chance to sit down and think about our goals, aspirations, accomplishments, and regrets. If coronavirus has allowed us anything, it has given us a bit of time to reflect on things. This is the only period I can recall in my entire life where I have found time to actually sit and dwell in my thoughts. Is this always constructive? Not always … sometimes it makes me feel down. But other times, it makes me feel appreciative and recognize things that I have taken for granted, like going to the grocery store, or the gym, or to office hours. This temporary halt in the typical hum of life allows us a little space to think, and therefore appreciate.

Our Pets Are SO Happy

I can’t help but feel happy that our pets finally get to have us captured inside all day, at their beck and call. My animals are loving quarantine because they get fed way too many snacks, are snuggled for hours upon hours a day, and never have to wait for us to come home. I always think about how one day in a human’s life is like one week in a dog’s life. This will be the highlight of our pets’ lives. 

A Chance to Discover Some New Hobbies

Always dreamed of learning to cook but never had the time? Want to learn to juggle? To knit? Thanks to YouTube, Amazon, and the extra time stuck at home, any of these hobbies are now achievable! As soon as school is over I plan on learning to cook and bake. Maybe I can also try to learn how to draw on eyeliner (who am I kidding … that’s tooooo ambitious). 

Rekindling High School Friendships

Ok, so admittedly this could go either way. But hey, you’re stuck within a quarter mile of all of your past school buddies, why not reach out in the squad group text and recall that time you dropped eggs off of your school parking lot, or snuck into the boy’s bathroom at the high school at 3 am, or I don’t know what? If you are able to take walks around the neighborhood, perhaps you can socially-distance wave at them! 

The Power of Technology

Nowadays, I am constantly thankful that we are living in the age of technology. Rapid news updates are at my fingertips or flashed across the TV screen, I can text or Facetime friends to keep up, I can attend classes online, and I can order snacks and food from apps. Even though we are all “isolated”, everyone is interconnected through a web of social media platforms and texting. The internet does help build a sense of solidarity and unity. 

Here’s wishing everyone safety and good health. I’ll leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Claire Lempert

Columbia Barnard '23

is a sophomore at Barnard studying economics, psychology, and English. She loves exploring NYC, running, writing, and creating dioramas.