By Julia Pizzuto
Assistant A&E Editor
On March 11, I had just returned back to school from spring break, and the coronavirus felt far from an imminent threat. Halfway through junior year, I had a stellar group of friends, a Resident Success Assistant position, was involved on campus, and had a dream internship with a magazine.
As I settled back in to classes and began to apply for summer internships, I was ready for anything — except what actually happened.
Suddenly I was in and out of meetings with different organizations for days. My residents were asking questions I did not know the answers to. My mother was desperately waiting for me to call with updates, and I think partially to make sure I sounded healthy. My university was switching to online classes until March 27, which quickly became the rest of the semester.
All of this was due to the novel coronavirus, which has officially become a pandemic according the World Health Organization.
Cancellation emails rolled in one by one for different university events, and soon the residence halls closed too. I was frustrated, sad and angry. I was also guilty for all of those feelings; how could I be upset about college when people were being hospitalized by the thousands?
As a Communication Studies major, I had been excited about possible internships in the entertainment industry with concert venues or arts festivals; all things that required close human interaction and some large crowds. Additionally, most of those internships were in New York City, the epicenter of the virus in America as of late March.
People talk about finding yourself in college, and I finally felt like I was beginning to relate to that. Looking at who I was at the beginning of this year alone compared to now, I seemed like a different person. It felt like I was just about to break through to something real, and more growth – a career, “real adulthood”, my hard work paying off – was in reach.
Then a disease that no one had heard of until a few months ago put six feet between myself and the people I came to consider family, and what felt like infinity between my goals and I. My current internship was cancelled, and as long as “social distancing” is part of my vocabulary it’s going to be hard to find a new one in any media field. It has been hard to keep calm when my future rests on college experience.
Although I am beyond sick of hearing that I should “make the most of this,” I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
It is difficult to find meaning in a pandemic, especially as it closes in on your hometown, but there is peace in being forced to slow down.
Quarantine has brought me back to me back to journaling, and spending time outside. I realize in this period of uncertainty that reconnecting with myself prepares me just as much for “real life” as the fast-paced college world. This will end, and we will be stronger for it.