By Emma Muigai
Life seemed normal for the most part. Spring break had just started and everyone was excited for what seemed like a good year. My birthday was on March 4, college graduation was around the corner, and I had many plans for travel. The beginning of spring break was wonderful, my good friends and I took a road trip from Tucson to Los Angeles.
Javaughn, my friend, is another senior at the University of Arizona studying journalism. He warned me, “Emma, there are a few cases of coronavirus in LA.” At the time, I did not know what this meant. I was aware of what was going on in Italy and China, although for some reason felt, “it’s never going to get like this here.”
We had a great trip. The beaches were beautiful, bars were packed, and everyone seemed to be enjoying each others’ company. I still couldn’t face the fact that simple things I never knew I would miss so much would vanish with a blink of an eye.
On the seven-hour drive back to Tucson, Javaughn caught wind of colleges around the country shutting down class meetings due to the coronavirus. I was still a bit delusional and in denial, thinking the University of Arizona wouldn’t shut down its campus, “I don’t think this will happen to us,” I said.
Just a few moments later, we got the news that our college would be switching to online teaching until the beginning of April. Okay, so that’s not that bad, I thought to myself, that’s just one month for things to get under control. I desperately wanted to get back to school and my life. I missed socializing and going to class.
Things I took for granted such as hanging around campus with friends, or sitting down at a restaurant I wouldn’t get to do again. As a journalism student, interacting with people makes up a lot of my work for my classes. I found it difficult to learn in an online setting, and I felt particularly sad about having to do this during my last few weeks in college.
The University of Arizona ultimately made the decision to shut down campus until the end of the semester. I decided to travel back to Seattle where I grew up to be close to family during this time. I couldn’t believe how my world seemed to change so fast. One moment I was on a crowded beach, and the next I couldn’t even go over to my friend’s house. I thought I had more time to process my college career that was coming to a close.
What struck a chord in me was the visit to my mother in Seattle for the last couple days of spring break. She said to me, “Emma, we haven’t spent this much time together in a really long time.” I’ve been cooking, reading, watching good movies, and trying to finish senior year amidst a pandemic. In some aspects, I do believe social distancing has given me time to take care of myself, and spend quality time with family.
Life is repetitive now and I have a tendency to overthink. Sitting in my house all day makes me go over thoughts in a never-ending loop. Trying to stay positive is difficult when it seems you’ve lost everything. It is important to remain optimistic and hopeful rather than be fearful for what is to come. I’m lucky in many ways: I have a roof over my head and I can afford to eat. Sadness is a normal reaction to what the world is going through right now. And that’s how I feel: sad for the world.
When this pandemic is over, I hope to appreciate life more. Human touch and physical connection are huge parts of our lives. Being healthy is valuable and your body is to be treasured. I hope I will make it through this, and I hope my loved ones will as well.