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My entire life I’ve dreamt of moving to the city, living a fast-paced life while studying, working, and exploring. The decision to go to Pace was not a hard one to make after being accepted and touring the campus, my choice almost immediately followed. Freshman year was great – between every class, there was always an exciting “what’s next?” Whether it was a trip to Chelsea Market, a walk to Seaport, an upcoming show, there was always a new moment to look forward to, a never-ending rollercoaster of excitement.

Then Covid hit. And I went home for a year and a half. Like most college students, everything was put on pause and referred to as “things that can happen when life gets back to normal.” Except now that life is in this limbo between pandemic and a return to normalcy, I find myself disinterested and self-described as miserable.

I now live off-campus, in an apartment with my best friend, 15-year-old me would be so proud – but all I want to do is go home. I have my most flexible class schedule yet, a great internship, and a fellowship, 18-year-old me would be ready to squeeze in tiny adventures – yet I cannot think of a single spot in this city that I desire to go to. Why is it that 20-year-old me wants to run to Penn Station, buy a ticket home, and question if I ever want to return for more than a day trip?

As I type this out, I have been back in the city for a week, which is a half-lie considering I went home for four days. The three days I’ve been here, I only stop crying when I have a responsibility to complete. Everyone keeps telling me it is going to get better, once I get into my groove, once I am busy again, once I settle in. And I keep asking when? And at what point do I accept things may not go back to how they once were? What do I do?

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that this isn’t the same city I left, but I am also not the same person. I am slowly trying to adapt back into this crazy, uncertain life. It’s not that I do not want to be here entirely, I don’t know how to be. So much is out of my control, but how I react to this funk I am in is not. I get to decide if I am going to make the most of what I can. My passions are still in this city, my dreams, and my goals and the future I want is here. And I am not going to give that up.

Why am I writing this? I am convinced I am not the only one that feels this way. In so many different, individualized ways, we are all trying to figure out how to move forward. To get through this, I need to know I am not alone in this feeling. Reading this, now you know you are not alone either. So, I’m back in NYC…now what? I am finding tiny bits of joy in each day. I am keeping my mind and body busy. I am trying.

Madison Turunen is a student of the Class of 2023 at Pace University, on the New York City campus. She is double majoring in History and Peace & Justice Studies with minors in Women & Gender Studies and Politics. Someday she hopes to go into human rights advocacy. She is a huge activist and environmentalist, with a lean towards gender equality and peace-building. As a part of Her Campus, she has published articles on lifestyle, entertainment, wellness, and news.
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