I never thought in my life that I would be in this situation. I left my dorm the Friday before spring break, packing what I thought was necessary for a week at home: some clothes, my laptop and a folder containing some of the homework that I was planning on doing during break.
I’m now approaching my fifth week at home in Texas, with nice sunny skies and much warmer days. When we first received the email from Case Western Reserve University stating that remote learning would only last until April 6, I bought myself a binder and decided to take notes for my classes there in the meantime. It is now my primary note source for the rest of the semester. I did obtain my old notes, however, thanks to the university shipping them to me.
I know there are multiple students in the same situation as me and who probably feel the same way. We want to go back to campus and see our friends. We want to go back to campus and speak to our professors and TAs and attend office hours for further help in our studies. Everything was ruined by the pandemic.
However, professors and TAs stepped up and have provided us with as smooth a transition as possible to ensure that we still learn the content while staying safe. I am forever grateful for everyone who has worked hard to make sure we continue our studies.
I have not left my house in four weeks. I don’t know what is happening around me as only my father, and occasionally my mother, go outside to get groceries, water and prescriptions. We’ve been forced to close our family business, our only source of income. We are patiently waiting for the government stimulus checks to arrive and help ease our financial burdens until we are able to open our business again.
There are probably others like me who have been stuck at home for a long time and have a feeling of voidness inside of them. It’s a miracle that I am still functioning, attending class and doing my homework. All the small luxuries of going out for coffee, eating out at a restaurant and seeing friends were taken for granted. I have the urge to go out somewhere, to remove myself from this cocoon and sprout wings like a butterfly free from its containment, but I can’t.
These thoughts stop when I think about what is happening in our country and the world. Everyday, the number of people infected climbs. Social distancing measures have been in place for weeks, and for a good reason. Only through isolating ourselves and practicing good hygiene can we shorten the time we have to stay home under quarantine. It is still surreal that we are living in times like these. It will be—hopefully—a once-in-a-century thing that we can tell our children about in the future. We will recall how we had to change to online classes, cancel vacation plans and see some of the busiest places in the world look like eerie ghost towns. We will remember how we washed our hands more times than there are hours in the day in order to protect each other from the virus.
These will be the stories recalled from those of us lucky enough to be able to stay at home, not contract the virus and escape the pandemic relatively unscathed. Others’ stories will not be so fortunate.
However, this pandemic has been a lot for everyone to take. We feel lonely stuck at home. We wonder when we can have a normal life again, without even knowing if the end is in sight. We can help each other out, though. Reach out to your friends to see how they are coping and to catch up. Set up Zoom study sessions with classmates to make sure you understand the content well. It’s also important to go outside when possible and just relax under the rays of the sun.
We can do our part by social distancing and relentlessly washing our hands. Others are on the front lines, providing goods and services to those who have contracted the virus. Hopefully, with only a little more time, we will be able to restart our “normal” lives again. One thing is for certain, however, we will be returning to a new normal. This pandemic has changed all of us—from making us recognize what we take for granted to how we interact with one another and the world.
I look forward to being able to reunite on campus this fall. In the meantime, let’s continue with our quarantines and make sure we are all staying safe and healthy. We’ll get through this, together.
Christian Reyna is a second-year biomedical engineering major who plans to obtain a Spanish minor. When he’s not writing, he is trying to figure out how Zoom works and contemplating the effects of pandemics on his favorite coffee imports.