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

Now, more than ever, we have to pay attention to those basic hygiene tips such as having hand sanitizer around, covering your mouth when you cough, and not drinking from anyone’s cups and incorporate them into your daily routine. Because of COVID-19, we’ve all had to find a way to cope with this unprecedented situation and make the best out of it. I understand that it has been difficult. Maybe taking classes online is not what you expected, or maybe you don’t like staying at home so much. However, it’s far too easy to overlook the fact that maybe we just have to look at it from a different perspective. This way, we may even take advantage of the situation and shine a positive light on our current reality in terms of all the lessons that the pandemic has taught us.

I believe that, at first, we all struggled a bit with getting used to our new “normal” and how it has drastically changed our lives. Maybe we disliked the idea of missing certain activities that you only experience in high school, orーwhat most of us can relate toーdreaded the idea of taking classes online. Whichever the case, it’s important we acknowledge how we’ve all come a long way. 

At least for me, the pandemic hit at an unexpected moment. I knew about the worldwide spread of COVID-19, but I didn’t think it would actually reach Puerto Rico. We all remember where we were, what we were doing, and at what time we heard that there was a lockdown (at least I do). 

It was a Saturday, at around 5 o’clock and I was at a friend’s house working on a project for my AP English course that was due that upcoming week. Sadly, due to the Coronavirus, many of us have missed or lost many things.   

face mask prevention
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Some of the things I personally missed out on were my Senior class activities. I missed my field day, senior trip, banquet, prom, AP testing, graduation, and even lost some friends. Although some things were taken away from me, I still got the opportunity to gain other experiences. 

At first, I struggled a lot. I suffered from a lot of anxiety and stress from having so much free time, and from all the changes that were going on. I felt as if my world was falling apart. I’ve always been an active person, saying yes to any event or when someone needs my help. I’ve also participated in many extracurricular activities throughout my life, so when I found myself having to stay at home, I just knew I had to make the best out of it. 

Right away, I started to work out. I started to incorporate many different types of routines, which later on paid off. I also started journaling, Bible journaling, meeting with my friends through Zoom or FaceTime, and reduced my phone usage. I’ve slowly gotten the hang of it and have improved myself in many ways. 

If you know me, you know that my favorite aphorism is that “Life is all about growth; mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.” That’s what this semester has been all about for me: growth. During this semester, I’ve continued those routines that I incorporated when the lockdown began; and now, I find myself acting differently. I have started to look at things through a whole other perspective, and now I understand certain situations better. 

Around October, I made an impulsive decision. I bought a plane ticket and flew to Colorado Springs where my sister lives. I’ve gotten the opportunity to discover and try new things. I saw snow, carved a pumpkin, and dyed my hair. I also spent time with my niece and nephews by taking them to school, playing, baking, and doing many other things together. 

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Another thing that this semester brought to my life was a family reunion. After years of not being able to spend a holiday together, my mom, sisters, and I got the chance to spend Halloween together. Both of my sisters serve in the military and so we’re never able to see each other at the same all at once. Thanks to online school, I got the opportunity to travel and spend a couple of weeks with my family while at the same time discovering other possibilities. 

This semester has given me new experiences, and the changes that have elapsed during this time have changed me into the person that I am today. This semester has truly been different for me.

As you can see, it’s been about growth and family. I’ve changed, and I’ve slowly started to reach certain goals that, due to always being busy, I hadn’t been able to achieve. 

During these tough times, I encourage everyone to find their own way to strive for growthーwhatever type of growth that you want to reach. Whether it is physical, mental, spiritual, emotional… Whatever it is, you can reach your goals. Maybe by now, you have it all figured out, or maybe not. If you don’t, that’s completely fine, because every day is a new chance to start again.

Joyliz Pérez Vélez is a Public Relations and Publicity student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She is an adventurous soul who loves to travel and discover new things alongside to the people she loves. In her free time, she enjoys bingewatching series, reading, listening to podcasts, journaling and many other things. She loves sharing positivity through words, music, and actions.