From the Big Apple to isolation

By Elizabeth Humston/El Inde

Your senior year of college is a year that you will never forget. The last memories made are usually of graduation; getting handed your diploma, throwing your cap in the air, and saying goodbye to friends who have been there for you the past four years. However, that is not how I will remember my senior year ending.

It was the week before spring break. I was getting ready to go to New York with my mom. We had been planning on going since early October. Everything seemed perfect. Our hotel was in Time Square, close to everything, our family friends were going to be there, and we were even going to watch our friends perform at Radio City Music Hall.

While we were in New York, we kept track of all of the coronavirus news. We went in early March, and we knew that New York was going to be one of the epicenters of the coronavirus. We religiously followed CDC guidelines of washing our hands frequently, not touching our faces, and never touching things with our bare hands.

We got tickets to our friend’s performance in Riverdance the day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Broadway would close. The theater was empty. It was hard to believe. We had seats on the mezzanine, but since it was so empty, we were able to sneak to the front row.

After the show, I started getting emails from the University of Arizona President, Robert C. Robbins. The first one read, “We are delaying the start of classes to Wednesday, March 18, and moving from in-person instruction to online instruction wherever possible.” Great, I thought. Two more days of break. I never expected the next email, however.

Two days later, I got an email saying that starting March 18, classes will be fully online, and students were encouraged not to come back to campus. I had to come back to campus, however, because I had a job and I had to move everything out of my apartment, regardless.

The same day I got back to Tucson, I got a call from my supervisor saying that we would be working from home. Since I was an intern and couldn’t do anything from home, I was out of a paycheck.

Everything seemed fine in the first couple of days. I could watch as much Netflix as I wanted, I could procrastinate, everything I could have hoped to do during a normally busy time of the semester. Then came the fated email that graduation had been canceled. And that’s when it hit me: This was my new reality of uncertainty. And I hated it.

Thankfully, I found a couple of ways to get through it. I took to reading books which reminded me how much books can take you out of reality. I also took up puzzles, which I forgot can be incredibly hard.

My motto for this quarantine has been “Take it day by day.” Not even by the week. By taking it day by day, it has relieved some of the stress that my unanswered questions have caused me.

Regardless of not having a graduation ceremony, I have so many things I can look forward to in the future. I got a job in Spokane, Washington, and will be moving there mid-May. It is an exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.

While it may be a huge bummer that I won’t have graduation, this quarantine has taught me that your senior year isn’t defined by those last memories of graduation. It is defined by the cumulative memories you have made the past four years.

You don’t need to toss your cap in the air to remember the crazy days of cramming for a final exam or the nights you won’t forget with your friends. If I have to come out of this quarantine with one thing, it is that I am not going to let it define my college career.

I had to borrow a friend’s cap because I didn’t buy my regalia before the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Noëlle Van Lerberghe).
I had to borrow a friend’s cap because I didn’t buy my regalia before the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Noëlle Van Lerberghe).

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