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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic as college students

Loss and gratitude can come in many different forms

 

For freshmen, sophomores and juniors, this is their first in-person spring quarter ever in Davis, and for most seniors, this is their second and final one. It’s a joyous time; not only is spring quarter known to be the best in Davis, but it feels celebratory to return to the activities that students haven’t been able to engage with for two years. There is a glorious sense of relief as the world starts to function a little bit closer to how it did before.

Yet this return back to “normal” life can feel painful too, especially when it contrasts with what we lost in the pandemic. Young people have faced a unique set of challenges these last few years: Many have juggled financial burdens from pandemic shutdowns, cared and provided for sick family members and learned how to survive a pandemic while being full-time students and handling issues that come with being young adults. 

Many students — seniors especially — are reflecting on their time spent in Davis and mourning the little things lost in the past two years. Meeting up with friends for pho at the MU, bumping into an old acquaintance outside of Wellman, cramming for midterms with classmates in the Reading Room — these little life events, no matter how insignificant they may have seemed a few years ago, are finally becoming normal again. It’s bittersweet, though, since we couldn’t experience these things fully during our entire four years of college.

People have endured varying levels of loss during this pandemic. The small social interactions that many lost for the past two years, while minute in comparison to the much larger tolls the pandemic has left on human life and health, are still valid to mourn. It’s okay to feel excitement about returning to old habits and experiences while also feeling melancholy that we have to return to them at all. 

That being said, there are things that might not ever change now that we’re emerging from the pandemic — some for the better. This includes flexibility with hybrid courses, more openness to remote work and wearing masks when sick. 

Additionally, a number of students have found new directions in life, as the pandemic led them to reassess their values and prioritize personal well-being. For some, this could look like a new career path or hobby. For others, it could be feeling burnt out from virtual learning and ready to take a break from classes. 

Every year, seniors face some sort of apprehension about the future, but it can be even scarier to enter a world when the future has seemed so uncertain in the last few years. Moving on from a place, while feeling like you weren’t able to fully experience it, can create many conflicting emotions, feelings some of us on the Editorial Board have right now. 

But with five weeks left of spring quarter, it’s time to soak up every bit of Davis you can, whether you’re graduating or returning for school in the fall. Walk through the Arb on a warm evening, lay in the grass at the Wednesday farmers market and enjoy biking at night without a sweatshirt because if there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that moments like these, shared with those you love, are finite and best celebrated in the present.

 

Written by: The Editorial Board

 

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