Life as a university student is an absolute, never sleeping, always studying, where is my caffeine, level of chaos. As a first-year university student, adjusting to this lifestyle was much more difficult than I had first thought. My first semester came with the thrills of new freedom and an expanding perspective of life and all it had to offer. With these highs came the lows, where tears accompanied thoughts of giving up in the face of midterms, labs, and the never-ending stream of assignments and studying. First semester finally ended, and I had learned so much about myself as a person and as a learner. I had gone through the ringer and came out with better studying habits and was fully prepared to conquer second semester head on.
Second semester was going well, not a 4.0 GPA well, but well. I felt like I was finally starting to realize how this university thing worked. I remember when I started seeing news articles and push notifications about COVID-19. In the beginning, it never crossed my mind how impactful this “foreign” virus would become. As the first case crept into Canada, and then eventually Alberta, the magnitude of the situation seemed to increase with every day. Suddenly, going to campus became a major anxiety in my life as every desk, every door handle, and every person in the hallway became a potentially life-threatening suspicion. I remember talking to my friends during lunch and laughing about how the university would never shut down, because how could they? Two weeks later, at 3am in the morning, I get an email from the University saying classes have been suspended. I read the email and smiled, because it meant I could sleep in for once, but little did I know that I would soon be begging to go back to school.
Doing your classes online is not easy. I had labs this semester that suddenly ended, clubs to go to that were no longer, and friends that I longed to see. To be at home every day and only have that space to do schoolwork is more exhausting than going to campus. I am stuck in my bedroom reading off lecture slides, completing my assignments, and more recently, studying for finals. Most universities in Canada have now implemented credit / no credit marks for courses this semester. Suddenly, that hard work in January through March disappeared, and it was difficult to cope with the fact that I did not need to try so hard anymore. I went from going a mile a minute to practically stop, and that made me spiral into this state of sadness and loss of identity for several weeks. I lost the motivation to study and to even reach out to the friends I was so desperately missing. Finally, I had to tell myself that I needed to find ways to keep myself busy, even if it wasn’t school work, so I could maintain this level of normalcy and structure in my life that I realized I needed.
COVID-19 has already been a life changing event. I did not realize how important school was to me and how going to campus everyday was one of the biggest blessings in my life. I do not see my friends and I have lost the ability to go out and to be social. All those things I took for granted. I have lost both my summer jobs because of COVID-19, and I am now concerned about how I am going to pay for my schooling. All these things have taught me something about myself, but I still worry about the future. There is talk about fall courses being online, and social distancing to continue much longer into the future. As a developing young adult, I feel the need to interact with people and to get outside of my house to grow. It goes without saying, but in times like these, all we can do is learn to adapt.