It’s crazy to think about the fact that most of us have been quarantined at home for nearly two months. As a first-year student at NYU, I vividly recall receiving the initial email from our school administration back in early March. This email simply advised the student body that spring break would start two days early as a COVID-19 precaution. What began as two days would end up being the rest of the semester.
Though I was devastated that my first year was basically over and that I wouldn’t be able to continue experiencing life in the big city, this pandemic has truly given me a greater appreciation and sense of gratitude for many other aspects of my life. For one, I am extremely grateful that I was able to return home safely and be with my supportive family during this time of uncertainty.
Being at a school as diverse as NYU really opened my eyes to varying students’ situations under these circumstances. For some, what might seem like just a plane ticket or car ride home, is much more complicated for others, whether it's the question of the ability to afford to buy a plane ticket on the spot, or return to a home country that’s already on lockdown, or even having to return to complicated family life. I recall reading an article from the Washington Square Times, the NYU student-run newspaper, about a student who was trapped in NYC as their home country Dubai, was only allowing UAE passport-holders to enter the country. Another story that particularly struck me was a student who wasn’t comfortable returning to their family because they didn’t respect their gender identity. This experience has taught me that at a time like this, it’s important that we embrace understanding and compassion towards one another, and continue to practice compassion even after quarantine ends.
This pandemic has also opened my eyes to how I must appreciate my education. Being at home in May, I didn’t think I would miss being in class as much as I do. While school may be overwhelming at times and e a drag having to wake up so early to attend 8am lectures every day, I am beyond grateful for having the opportunity to be in an environment which encourages exploring vastly different topics of study and engaging in deep intellectual conversations. This pandemic leaves me looking forward to returning to school and motivates me to work my hardest in all aspects of my academic career. Education is not something that should be taken for granted.
Overall, I hope that everyone remains positive and hopeful during this unprecedented time. I believe mental health is such an important and often overlooked aspect of our health. The sudden shift from our daily lives to where we all are at today most definitely affects each and everybody’s mental state. The way I’ve countered this is by doing things I enjoy that I normally don’t have the free time to do, such as baking different recipes, painting, and reorganizing my room. In addition, I have used this time to catch up with old friends and family who I haven’t spoken to in a while. I encourage everyone to focus on taking care of both their physical and mental health, as well as taking time to thank and acknowledge all the essential workers in their lives.
credit Annabel Liao