I Didn’t Expect My College Experience to Be Like This

I've had an atypical college experience, completing my first two years at a community college before transferring to Kutztown as a junior. When I moved, I was excited to finally begin what I thought of as a real college experience: living on-campus, being independent, and constantly hanging out with friends at any hour. I quickly grew to love KU and the people I met here. That fall semester, I found happiness and began to build more confidence in myself. 

Like the rest of the world, I felt blind-sided by how rapidly COVID-19 was becoming a global pandemic and devastated when the university canceled all in-person classes. I worried for my physical safety and did not want to contribute to spreading the virus, but it was quickly becoming how apparent these changes were impacting my mental health. I was fortunate enough to spend the first two months of quarantine with a few close friends, but the reality of the situation was a bear to burden. I felt sorry for myself that I was only able to truly experience Kutztown for a few months before everything shut down. 

It is strange to reflect upon my college experience (so far) because it is so different from what I had always seen and imagined. Part of me feels as if I was almost completely left out of something many other people got to experience so easily. I am grateful for what I do have, but I also wish for more. It is also difficult to be enthused about the rest of my senior year given the uncertainty the world still holds. 

I, like many, am still trying to remain optimistic. I don’t want to let a pandemic control my mental health and happiness. I try to maintain a somewhat regular schedule and make sure to give myself breaks between schoolwork so I don’t burnout. To distract me, I have been cooking more elaborate meals, watercoloring, and making clay earrings. Even when I don’t want to, I sit outside to relax and get fresh air. 

The impact of the coronavirus is painful in all ways but is it still possible to find joy. Though I still have bad days, I don’t let them consume and eat me alive anymore. Focusing on the small, wonderful things is key. My college experience may be unconventional, but it is still mine, and I am learning to be proud of it.