MARCH 10, 2020
My friends and I are all sitting at our normal table in the Sandburg Cafeteria. It’s quesadilla day, and we’re all ecstatic. We talk about our days and laugh and chat like normal, until someone brings up this new “coronavirus” we had been hearing about on the news. The mood instantly changes, and we all voice our concerns but we’re positive that it won’t reach UWM.
*buzz buzz* All of our phones go off at once, and as we check our emails, our faces and hearts drop.
“EMPLOYEE AT UWM BEING TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS” the email reads. Oh no. What does this mean for us? We continue reading the email and discover that UWM has extended spring break to two weeks, instead of one. The cafeteria becomes noisy, with people discussing what is going to happen. While we’re all excited that we don’t have to do classes for TWO WEEKS, there’s the tiniest bit of worry in the air. We had been seeing other countries have hundreds of cases and have to go into mandatory quarantines, what if that happened to us?
MARCH 18, 2020
The day that UWM officially called it quits and announced that we would be online for the rest of the semester. I sat down in my bedroom at home and cried. And cried and cried and cried. I had FINALLY become comfortable at UWM after an honestly terrible first semester of college, and now I had to move back home and take classes online? I had to move away from some of my best friends? While I was happy that I would get to spend some more time with my family (who are very important to me), I was heartbroken that my college experience was being taken away from me.
I knew this was how it had to be, though. I knew that for my grandma’s health and for the health of everyone in America, we had to quarantine and social distance. I was angry that I was being forced home, but I knew it was for the best. I knew I would be back on campus by August, because everyone would follow the rules and do what’s best for the health of the general public, right?
MARCH 21, 2020
I moved out of Sandburg North today. The dorms were an absolute ghost town, and it was haunting. I stared out of my 25th floor window for the final time at the city I had come to adore, and tears slipped down my face. “See you soon” I whisper. I held out hope that I would be back by August.
APRIL 18, 2020
A month after UWM announced that we were fully online. My mental health tanked, and my grades struggled. Online learning was NOT my style, and I had little to no motivation to get my work done. The only thing that saved me was the ability to work out at home and the fact that the weather was finally nice enough to go on walks around my neighborhood with my family.
COVID was only getting worse in Wisconsin and the United States in general. People refused to social distance or wear masks, and as a result, it had been MONTHS since I had seen my grandmas or my cousins, who I missed dearly. I hadn’t left the house (except to walk or bike around my neighborhood) since I got home from UWM. I still had the tiniest hope that all would be back to normal by the fall, but it was slowly starting to slip away. I saw how selfish people were being – some who I even used to call my friends. My so-called “friends” berated and belittled me for not leaving my house and for advocating the use of a mask. They didn’t believe in the virus, so I didn’t believe in the friendship.
Considering I have multiple high-risk friends and family members, I made the choice to end friendships with people who though it was okay to party in big groups and not wear masks. To me, that was showing me that you didn’t care about others. And I didn’t care if I was the “rude” one for not talking to someone who couldn’t show the slightest bit of empathy.
MAY 14, 2020
The semester was finally over. I managed to survive with decent grades, and I was so grateful that I wouldn’t have to take another online class again. My mental health was starting to look up again, but it was still low. I hadn’t left my house in two months. At least the weather was warm enough for me to put on a swimsuit and sit on my deck to soak up the sun!
I missed my friends from college horribly. I Face Timed them nearly every day and texted them pretty much every second. I couldn’t help but think about what we would be doing if we were all together at UWM. I was still angry that my freshman year effectively ended so abruptly.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved being home with my parents, as I had struggled with missing them a lot during my freshman year. But I knew that quarantine would only set me 10 steps back in the work I had done to conquer my anxiety and the feeling of being away from home.
AUGUST 24, 2020
And it did. I moved into an apartment with my best friends and while I was so excited to be living in Milwaukee with them again, I missed my parents horribly. Being at home for 6 months unexpectedly made it harder to move away again. But I knew it would get easier over time. I had bigger things to worry about, like how I was going to survive another semester of online classes. My hope from March that I would be back in Milwaukee by August had come true, but not in the way I expected. I wanted in-person classes and events with the organizations I was a part of, but I had to settle for just being in the city and doing everything virtually. Classes were starting up again in just a couple of days, and I was registered for some pretty tough ones. I guess we’ll see how this goes….
Yeah, so, online classes are NOT my thing. For the past month I had cried pretty much every day over my accounting class. My mental health was on a rollercoaster, as I had never been happier while living with my best friends, but I was constantly having mental breakdowns over the amount of schoolwork I had to do. I hadn’t seen my grandmas in nearly a year, and I was hoping that everyone in my family would test negative so we could see each other for Christmas. I just had to survive finals and I could take a month-long break. I just had to survive…
Well, I survived finals! But now I had another semester of completely online classes to look forward to…yay. This time around though, I was motivated to succeed after a “meh” semester. The problem would be keeping that motivation around, especially as we neared the one-year anniversary of quarantine beginning.
It’s already been a year. A year ago, I was saying “it’ll be over by August”, and now here we are, still wearing masks and quarantining. A year of our lives taken over by a virus. A year of our lives fighting each other over wearing masks and partying. A year of my college experience hindered. A year of ups and downs and wavering mental health. One. Whole. Year.
To be honest, as I was writing this blog, I cried a little bit. I cried reliving having to move out of Sandburg and leaving my best friends. I cried remembering how I didn’t see my grandmas for months. I cried remembering how quarantine destroyed my in-person plans for 2020. I cried for the people who have gotten sick and died. I cried for the people who had to watch their loved ones die. I cried for the loss of 2020.
While my family and friends and I made the best of a bad situation, it was still just that: a bad situation. We lived through history, and we are STILL living through history. We don’t realize it, but we will look back on this in 10, 20, 30, 40 years and cry for what we went through. That’s literally all I can say about this: I cried. Life was so different a year ago and I HOPE it is so different a year from now. I don’t want to have to cry again. I want to live. I want to have in-person classes and CHAARG events, I want to go to Summerfest, I want to travel to Disney World or Chicago or New York or wherever with my best friends, I want to be able to see my grandmas freely. My COVID experience has been a lot better than some others, and for that I am grateful, but I mourn for the loss of 500,000+ lives and for the loss of what could have been.