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Three years post lockdown…A Reflection on my college experience during a  global pandemic.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UNH chapter.

It’s hard to believe that three years ago I was a young freshman just beginning to figure out the whole “college life” when it was quickly stripped from me. Finally settling into a friends group, figuring out how to manage my workload and even starting my first on-campus job. It was all starting to come together, everything was falling into place. 

I remember hearing about the “coronavirus,” something I thought would never make its way to the United States, let alone affect me and billions of other people. The university had extended our spring break to two weeks, a freshman’s dream! I was craving an at home reset, and an extra week with friends and family was the ideal scenario to get over the classic mid-semester burnout. 

As the days led up to my trip back home, tension started to rise everywhere. “CORONAVIRUS,” plastered on every headline in the news. Rumors that we wouldn’t come back from break began to spread and little did I know that would become an ugly reality shortly in the future. 

The day before we left for break in 2020 is a day that will be engraved in my memory forever. My last in-person class at the time, my final meal at the dining hall and last hangout with all of my friends in my freshman year dorm. I can still feel the pit in my stomach as I drove out of Durham. 

I’m now a senior about to graduate, and once again I have to leave this place that I have grown so comfortable with. I often wonder… if we hadn’t gotten sent home, would I appreciate my college experience as much as I do now? Would it be easier to leave this place if I got the full four years? That’s an answer I’ll never get, and that I’m okay with! Rather than sulk in what Covid took away, or what I missed out from, here’s what COVID gave me that has made my college experience one of its own. 

  1. A passion for journalism.

I came into college as a declared journalism major, unsure if being a journalist was actually something I wanted to do in life. My freshman year I started to shy away from the idea of pursuing journalism and questioned if it was the right path for me. Coming back from the 2020 lockdown, my sophomore year, I had one in-person class, and that was newswriting. That class was my saving grace. It was the two times a week I got to turn off zoom, put on an outfit and socialize with people other than my friend group. Even though we were masked up and had to sit six feet away from one another, it was the only thing that felt somewhat normal at the time. Long story short, having that class to look forward to is what fueled my ambition to continue studying journalism. So, thank you covid. I’m not sure what career path I would be on without you.

  1. Lifelong friends.

Coming back from the initial lockdown, there were SO many restrictions on campus, to the point where you weren’t allowed in other dorms for a certain period of time. Luckily, my friend group chose to live in the same dorm for our sophomore year. These were the main humans I interacted with day-to-day. Game nights, movie marathons, hot girl walks and anything else we could do to keep us sane during the dark covid days. We’re bonded for life from this experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We often joke about how some of our craziest nights in college were during the “covid year.” 

  1. A better understanding of mental health.

It’s pretty obvious that nobody’s mental health was in good condition during the first lockdown. I was somebody who really struggled mentally during the pandemic. Living at home became my worst nightmare. All I wanted was to be back at school. However, I did learn a lot about myself throughout the long days and nights of isolation. Eventually, I learned to cope with the anger, sadness, frustration and depression that came with all of covids impacts. I learned to appreciate the little things in my day-to-day life. Whether that was meeting up with friends in the target parking lot, watching hours of tv with my dad or participating in a drive-by birthday parade. I had to stop dreading the bad, and start looking for the good. This is a mindset I still have as we have eased out of the pandemic, and I’m grateful to have had those bad days… they make these days feel so much better. 

So, thank you covid. My college experience and outlook on life wouldn’t be the same without you!

Mel Matts UNH English/Journalism & Italian Studies '23