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Living Through a Pandemic With Melanie Flores

Melanie Flores is a second-year graduate student at Florida State University. Having experienced COVID-19 herself, as well as within her family, she offers an interesting perspective on what it’s really like being a student in this pandemic age.

Her Campus (HC): Describe your field of study.

Melanie Flores (MF): Planning as a broad field of study is really about serving communities with different interests. Urban planning specifically focuses on how city planning affects the daily lives of urban people, and my focus on transportation studies how these people move within cities. The focus is always on making these urban communities more sustainable and more efficient. To get into this field of study, I also did my undergraduate degree at Florida State, where I studied international affairs and literature.

HC: What first drew you to urban planning?

MF: I was really interested in the impact that cities have on people's lives, and how planners and elected officials can work together to make positive impacts on these cities and the people that live in them. I focused specifically on transportation because I realized that transportation is everywhere. We drive cars, fly planes, ride bikes and walk, and this universal travel experience really drew me in. There are also a lot of great career opportunities in this field of study.

HC: How has the transition to remote learning affected your academic progress?

MF: In grad school, and in undergrad as well, I really liked having in-person classes. I loved the connections I could make with my professors and colleagues. In my program, there are only about 30 students, and we’re all pretty tight-knit. Not being able to see them and my professors every day has been difficult, but everyone has been really good about checking in with each other. Making sure that all of my peers are still in a positive mindset despite the pandemic has helped me stay focused academically.

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HC: Describe your personal experience with having COVID-19.

MF: I got COVID-19 in the summer, and I was sick for about two weeks with very mild symptoms. I was not hospitalized, and I was able to recover on my own. I was worried about getting other people sick because I did live with other roommates, but thankfully I wasn’t around my family. I also had to take time off of work, which was hard because nobody was really sure how to handle sick leave with COVID at the time. Although I’m better now, I do still have some long-term symptoms, and it definitely continues to impact my everyday life.

HC: How has experiencing a global pandemic affected your life?

MF:  Very negatively. This year has been difficult for me and for everyone, I think. Local businesses are struggling, families are struggling and schooling has been harder. I personally had an internship in Washington D.C. that got canceled because of COVID, and that happened to a lot of my friends as well. Even going to the grocery store is different from how it was a year ago. It’s been a big transition, and I think there’s still a lot of sadness going on. I do think, though, that we’ll eventually adjust to this “new reality”.

HC: How are you making the most out of living through a pandemic?

MF: I adopted a cat! I started fostering my cat when she was two weeks old, and she’s definitely helped me through being sick and adjusting to virtual school. She’s great company! I’ve also tried my best to spend time at parks and more outdoor places, as well as learn to cook for myself more. Keeping in touch with people virtually has also been a big coping mechanism, and has really helped me adjust to this new normal.

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Lover of indie music, travelling, and my two cats Follow me on all of my adventures! Instagram: @underscorelili
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