One week ago, college students started getting word that COVID-19 may not just hit you like a “glorified flu.” What on the surface looked like an extended spring break abruptly turned into us all not knowing when we get the chance to return to our universities next.
We interviewed college students nationwide to see how they cope with all of the changes.
Our friends on the East Coast
“My campus has closed the residence halls making exceptions to students who do not have a safe home/don’t have access to food/don’t have access to WiFi and other technology needed for class. Since the pandemic, I’ve lost both my jobs (they were on-campus jobs) and I have not been able to get out of bed most days. I feel very unmotivated to complete homework. Recently I have begun researching about other pandemics and I came across that H1N1 killed millions of people, but we didn’t have this type of reaction. I understand the virus can kill people but I’m left wondering why this virus is the one to cause such a stir? I’m also very concerned for the economy. I know many people out of work and not getting paid leave and I do not believe when the pandemic is over things will be normal. I think the country will feel more depressed than they already do because of the business that will close,” said Shannon Moran, a senior at SUNY New Paltz.
“On Tuesday my campus announced it was keeping building and dorms open but classes would remain online. As an arts school that focuses on experiential learning, you could feel the sadness in the air when this was announced and none of us thought that was reasonable. Things changed so fast for everyone. We lost our shows we had been working on for months, our studios, our learning opportunities and also, lost our homes. But simply put, Boston is a ghost town. This was the beginning of my senior year. I’m so blessed I have one more semester, but I have to now take my acting classes online. Let that sink in. Movement classes online. I have to move around my tiny room which is going to be near impossible. Every summer thing I had lined up is in the air and I’m sending video auditions to try and keep sane, but who knows anymore. I lost my job which was supposed to pay for my summer. I lost it the day after I started it. $1200 just gone and I hardly got to teach the students. I can go on and on about this but simply put my life feels like it’s in shambles because my career thrives on human interaction and that isn’t a thing anymore. I can’t return to Boston until August and I don’t know what I’m going to do being so far from my friends and my world for so long. Terrible. Wrecked. Sad. A mess. Boston is empty and it’s so scary to see a city that was once teeming with adventure empty and dark. It’s so scary seeing every theatre, restaurant, building closed and everyone in their homes because they can’t leave. In the beginning, I thought this was an exaggeration and wanted to hold on hope for as long as possible. It took a week for all that light and hopefulness to disappear and now I don’t know what to think,” said Angelika Menendez, a senior at Emerson College.
“We were one of the last schools to close in our area and we weren’t forced to go home [but] we were highly encouraged to stay on campus but it’s only so they don’t have to refund us room and board. I’m washing my hands a lot more and am being super cautious. I can’t see my grandparents because I don’t want to get them sick just in case I do have [the virus]. My anxiety about it all had gone up immensely because I don’t know if my family or someone around me could have it and give it to me,” said Zoila Herrera, a freshman at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Students Down South
“I’ve obviously gotten used to my daily routine in my college town and seeing my friends and going to my classes and everything, especially because this has been my favorite semester so it’s been really hard to have to move back home indefinitely or until the situation gets better. I’m definitely having a hard time managing my online classes because I don’t pick online classes for a reason. I’m not concentrating the best when I’m at home because there are many more distractions surprisingly at home than at college. COVID-19 has ruined a lot of opportunities and things for a lot of people but obviously, it’s not something that we can control and I think the county is doing the best it can and managing the situation. Although it really sucks that we have to shut everything down and miss out on things that we were all looking forward to, it is in the best interest of the country so we don’t get worse like other countries, just to reduce the amount of people who are in danger and affected by the virus physically,” said Ariana Rios, a sophomore at the University of Florida.
“My campus has been closed down and classes have been moved to online so that spreading decreases. In my community, people are choosing to stay in as much as possible causing a slow down for some of the small businesses that have no choice but to continue to stay open. This pandemic has made me prioritize certain things that were never significant in my daily life. Due to the fact that I have asthma, it’s important for me to avoid any instance that’ll put me more at risk of contracting the coronavirus. So now, for example, I carry hand sanitizer and apply regularly when washing my hands is not an option. As well as being especially wary of touching my eyes nose or mouth to prevent any infection. I’m feeling concerned because of how quickly the virus has spread around the world. I’m also concerned for those around me like my parents and grandparents. Besides that, COVID-19 has brought about many inconveniences like the closing of university campuses and K-12 schools. This acts like a domino effect causing major disruption to daily life. It worries me how children are being taken care of if they don’t have a parent or guardian that can stay home from work,” Domenica Roldan, a sophomore at Florida International University.
“I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and how easily disease can spread. I’ve moved back home with my parents but must come back every week for my shift at the hospital. I think that COVID-19 is not being taken as seriously as it actually is. College students have ignored the reason why their universities have moved to online classes and continue to expose themselves to potentially harmful diseases. I work at the hospital and see very severe cases and it doesn’t just affect old people,” Ashley Abraham, 19, University of Florida
“This is very surreal for me because I’ve learned so much about infectious diseases and viruses over the course of my microbiology major. Things are definitely different now, as no one is physically going to campus. But I still think too many people are going out partying or to restaurants and bars… things could be very shut down here in a week or so. I’m barely leaving the house now! I’m washing my hands and sanitizing, Cloroxing a lot. I’ve tried to buy a lot of groceries and cook from home more often. I’m not planning to go out downtown on weekends for the next few weeks. Lots and lots of changes, and probably more to come. I’m feeling pretty worried, to be honest. Worried people are not taking quarantine measures seriously, worried there is hardly any testing and case numbers are actually much higher than we currently think. As a microbiologist, COVID-19 worries me a lot. I don’t think our healthcare system is set up to take a major hit from a virus like this. People need to step up and be vigilant, seriously,” said Lourdes Dominguez, a fourth-year at the University of Florida.
Over on the Midwest
“Everything is closed and so I’m pretty much stuck at home waiting to see if I can go back to work or not. I get more sleep and more Netflix. As a STEM major, I’m not used to this much sleep and T.V. I’m frustrated that people can’t act like people and are falling apart rather than joining together. Social Distancing sucks but it’s also necessary,” said Andrew Sides, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“Classes were already being transitioned to an online format before spring break and we were supposed to come back to in-person classes after break. But now that there are so many cases, and at least one or two in Columbia, we’re finishing the spring semester online. There are also many businesses and stores that are changing their hours or closing altogether for a few weeks in an attempt to follow social distancing. The biggest change for me really is that a majority of my friends were forced to go home since they lived in dorms/residence halls and were unable to stay in them since their school shut down. It’s definitely weird to think that I’m now not going to see most of them until August. I’m more concerned with the general public “mob mentality” and the fact that stores are running out of common household items, jobs are being put on hold but rent and other expenses still have to be paid, those kinds of things,” said Stephanie Kampf, a junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“My immediate circle is pretty calm and civilized about the situation, but the overall community is panicking and buying out all necessities from stores. It feels far from typical because campus feels super eerie and creepy without the rush. The first couple of days things felt super competitive (due to fighting for resources) And everything is now upside down since its all online. It feels as if everything is diminishing slowly. I knew to take it seriously since the beginning because my parents talked a lot about it over break. Now that it’s close to us it’s serious. I try my best to take all the precautions. I do think that it messed with my social life…which makes me feel weird,” said Riddhi Andurkar, a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“It’s honestly still overwhelming, I’m just doing what I can to stay home as much as possible. I think it’s really important to practice social distancing, so I’ve only been leaving my apartment to go to the grocery store for the necessities, or to go to work. I know that I, as a 21-year-old, am not likely to get the virus and be symptomatic — but I know that people our age can carry it without showing symptoms and in turn infect others who may be much more affected than I would,” said Grace Haney, a senior at Simpson College.
“All of our classes for spring quarter are online for the full 10 weeks as of this point. As an art student, some of my classes rely on hands-on experience that I can’t really achieve online. Thankfully my teachers have been accommodating and one is even giving us materials from the shop in order to do our painting at home. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how classes will go next quarter. It’s a very stressful time with everything going on and finals week even though it should be a relaxing time with spring break. As a senior, it’s tough to know that you had your last in-person class of your college career without even really realizing it. It is sad that I won’t get to see my friends, who have been my classmates for the last year and a half, every week,” said Emily Mefford, a senior at DePaul University.
“My campus has decided to go virtual for the two weeks following spring break. They are keeping buildings open for meetings that are required in person but they must practice the rule of six feet apart. as for my community, we are all self quarantining by choice, as most of the grocery stores are vacant of bread, meat, rice, pasta, frozen food, etc. Due to the pandemic, my job has closed to the public and employees were told to not go to work. They plan on paying us whatever we were scheduled for as of now for the next two weeks. We are still having two people at work during the day to fill online orders. I went from thinking this is all ridiculous, to maybe smart because as the virus itself isn’t very serious for young and healthy people, if we self-quarantine for the sake of others it will prevent the spread of the virus to people who are not healthy and could potentially react to the virus in a bad way. Also if we all get it at the same time, the people who would need to be hospitalized may not have the materials necessary to heal,” said Roxanne Kadoun, a senior at Iowa State University.
Wild, wild West Coast
“UCLA moved all our finals and the remainder of Spring quarter to remote online classes, which really sucks for graduating seniors. LA county has moved towards a lockdown state, and UCLA has two confirmed cases of the virus–one a student and one a worker. I recently moved back home because I’m unaware of how long this will last, and lots of thinks I was looking forward to in the spring quarter are not happening anymore. I realize it’s a pandemic now, but I’m not sure I understand to what extent how bad the situation is. I’m a little anxious but not as much as I’d be if I were on campus,” said Monica Tudon, a senior at UCLA.