A Graduate Student Reflects on the Pandemic on Campus

A Graduate Student Reflects on the Pandemic on Campus

Posted on 04/19/2021

In early January of 2020, the first cases of Covid-19 were found in the United States. As quarantine started from state to state, students adjusted to a new way of life. Academia shifted from classrooms to zoom, and school hallways became barren. In some cases, students went off for spring break and never returned to campus. That is what happened to me. During my last semester as an undergraduate and my first year of graduate school, my life has shifted dramatically. 

When I first heard about Covid-19, I said that “this will pass; it’s like the flu.”  I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at East Carolina University and was excited to have been admitted to the WGSS MA Program at UNCG. I left ECU’s campus for spring break in February with plans to find an apartment for the fall. My father and I took a day trip to Greensboro, four hours away from my hometown. We found an apartment pretty quickly and were feeling good on the drive back. While we were still in the car, I received the notification that ECU  had closed and we were to go into quarantine. Things became surreal; our one-week “extension” to spring break continued until the end of the semester. My graduation became a virtual event where I sat on my couch in my pajamas. I cried as it felt that my achievements didn’t get their time on stage. The promise that there would be an in-person event in winter gave me false hope. 

Summer passed, and throughout it, Covid-19 cases steadily increased. I moved to Greensboro to start the MA Program amid the pandemic. In my first class at UNCG, everyone was masked and distanced. Rituals of sanitation had entered the learning space and changed the way classes interacted. The world outside seemed busy with the election, and I felt alone in a city I didn’t know and couldn’t explore. Classes on zoom were hard to follow because of ADHD and a new kind of learning environment, but I began to adjust. It was beneficial when professors talked with us about the challenges we faced. It was amazing how many class sessions began to include conversations about mental health. Crying on zoom became almost normal. It’s something I’ve done on multiple occasions. 

Over time, I found a support group in my graduate student cohort. We all faced similar problems, and we supported each other through group texts, zoom gatherings, and socially distanced meetings together. 

 I learned that I could find peace in this sense of universal struggle.  I keep reminding myself that Covid-19 is not something I was prepared for, but it is also not something that I can’t handle. I know that I am not alone and that I can make it through this time.