The Spring 2021 semester has officially begun and as I sat in my first Zoom class of the back to school season, I peered to my right and saw one of the bell towers of St. Ignatius Church through my window. A signature landmark in San Francisco, St. Ignatius is located on my college campus. The new year marks the second full semester off-campus. However, I made the decision to leave home and return to life in San Francisco despite all of my classes being online.
This choice was made after much deliberation. Would it be worth paying to live in an apartment that I couldn't leave? What was the value in returning to a city with COVID-19 cases on the rise? With restrictions still in place, was I adding to the problem by traveling to the Bay Area from halfway across the country? Was I overstepping an irresponsible line in choosing to go back?
While living at home with my family in a small-town in the Midwest for almost 10 months, I had secured a job and was saving money. I found comfort in the day-to-day routine that became my life during the pandemic. Though I dreamed of the chance to return to San Francisco, when my plans finally fell into place, I was scared of breaking the monotonous routine that I had grown accustomed to. The thought of leaving my siblings and mom behind after getting to be with them for so long was heartbreaking. With so many factors telling me that I was safest remaining exactly where I was, why should I return to the city that I thought I'd be studying in for four years when I committed to college prior to freshman year?
My answer was sitting in that specific question. One of the biggest reasons I chose my college was because of its geographic location. My university offered the chance to be in the heart of San Francisco, a place that combines the urban feel of city life with the natural beauty of countless outdoor spaces spread across its 7-mile-by-7-mile expanse. It is home to people across cultures and social and economic classes and promises constant inspiration from all directions. Regardless of academics being online or in-person, I was confident that returning to life on my own was important for my mental health and continued personal growth. Though life feels like it is on pause with the pandemic, I have come to see that it doesn't mean we have to pause every aspect of our lives.
In the few weeks since I have been back in San Francisco, restrictions have slowly been lifted and I am allowed to walk outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Outdoor dining is reopening this week and I worry cases will rise with people desperate to return to a pre-pandemic world. Though the future remains uncertain, we must hold onto what is in our control. It is our duty to follow all precautions to slow the spread of the virus. With this responsibility at the forefront of our minds, it is important that we find the place, whether it be a physical or mental location, that allows us to live our lives to the fullest at this time. For those of us privileged enough to be able to decide where it is best for us to be, we must remember how fortunate we are and choose wisely.