A Corona at Home to ‘Rona in College

Who would have guessed a year ago that there was something on the horizon so universal that it would affect our comfortable routines, how we instinctively act around others and even what we wear over our face on a daily basis? That the virus people are joking about now, saying it spreads from drinking too much Corona Mexican beer, would soon be responsible for over two hundred thousand American deaths? That’s nearly half the number of people killed in World War II. We now find ourselves in a strange reality where no one really quite knows which way is up and which is down. Everyone’s life looks a bit different still and there’s no doubt about that. A father who hasn’t hit the gym or gone to the grocery store since mid-March can pass a woman in the street who’s taking her seventy-year-old mother to get their nails done for a girl’s night out. You may not have noticed but it seems as if no one quite knows how to handle a global pandemic and college kids fit this description more and more every day. College students are just as confused not only about what their ‘new normal’ consists of but additionally how it plays a part in the numerous social aspects of a college lifestyle.  

A photo of scrabble words assembled to spell uploaded to Pixabay by Wokandapix, but credit/attribution not required.

Going into quarantine, everyone knew there would be challenges. They evolved from stocking up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper to worrying about your elderly relatives and learning how to convert a table, bedroom, or desk into an office or study space in a representable way. Spoken “I can’t wait to see you soon”s and hugs were given through a screen, moms and dads found their work and family lives suddenly colliding with one another and college classes were just generally a real hot mess. At the same time, now I can say I have learned more in the past six months than I originally thought possible. I also missed out on a summer spent making memories with my friends, my siblings and my grandparents, aunts and uncles. We adjusted during a challenging time that will one day be read about in history books. Little did anyone know what quarantine was like and what it held in store. My family would describe it as a good excuse to still continue working hard, but at the end of the long day to also sit back with a Corona beer in hand. I personally went to Taco bell drive-thru a few too many times, picked up new hobbies and projects, started a book club and most importantly, I took the opportunity to self-reflect. This summer at home was a unique one for sure, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.   

Unsplash / Miguel Henriques

As sad as I am to say it, summer has now come to an abrupt halt and being back on campus has caught me in new and unfamiliar situations that never came close to those during my summer quarantine. Will I offend them if I wear a mask and will I offend them if I don’t? Is it unreasonable of me to ask how they and their roommates have been feeling the past few days? Do I go to that get-together on Saturday to see my friends who I miss, or would that disappoint my family? These questions were constantly circling inside my head for the first few weeks back on campus, but they didn’t stop there. Despite being in one for the past seven months, you’d be surprised how many people will still look at you funny with a face covering on during a global pandemic. There comes a point when you just have to stop and remind yourself that by wearing a mask you tell others that you care about them and yourself so much that you want a normal life back. Like many other people must be feeling, my eyes have really been opened to how much I was robbed of. Anything from a beautiful spring semester as a student, a summer job and athletics to something as simple as a lakeside lunch sitting on Mendota’s gorgeous terrace. It didn’t take me long to realize that these experiences are the same ones I have grown to take for granted. When life finally does return back to normal—as it will very soon, hopefully—I will still think of strangers in a new way and the introverted side of me is sure to still make an appearance every now and again. What will be different is how I’ll take life as it comes my way without overlooking the small things as they pass. I’ll be sure to take it all in before they do.