One of the hardest things about COVID-19 for me has been how suddenly everything changed.
I’m 22 years old and about to graduate from Computer Science at the University of Manitoba. Last year when it all began, I remember I was with my friends in a study room on March 13, 2020, and we had no idea that day would be our last time to be together on campus. It wasn’t until later in the day that the lockdown was announced, and we learned that we wouldn’t be heading back to campus for classes.
At the time I thought we would be heading home and hunkering down for a couple of weeks, and I have to admit it was kind of fun at first. We started taking classes from the comfort of home and I didn’t think I would ever want to wear real clothes again. But it’s also been harder than I ever imagined it would be. Learning online is more difficult as there is a lot more responsibility on the learner because you’re completely on your own.
Before COVID there was more of a natural structure to school: you go to class, take notes, study, and take the tests. But this year it was much harder than ever to stay organized and motivated. Now with my graduation coming up it has started to hit me that I won’t ever be on campus again and those normal fun days of my university life are done, just passed by, completely unceremoniously finished.
But as difficult as school has been, the social challenges have been the hardest. Going from seeing everyone to seeing no one, essentially overnight, has been extremely jarring, especially because that was one of the most enjoyable parts of school for me. Between the added stress at school and lack of connection to my friends, it created a lot of anxiety for me and still does. That’s why I’m excited about the vaccine and can’t wait when we’ll all be eligible for our shots. For me, getting vaccinated will be a big step towards some level of normalcy, and it will mean we’re closer to the end of this thing than the beginning.
Overall, I think the COVID-19 pandemic has shown everyone how much we take for granted. I was feeling on top of the world and then out of nowhere, I’m inside my house for a year. I also think this has taught us to manage illness more seriously, including the mental health challenges so many people have had to deal with. Before people would be made fun of for staying home when they’re sick or saying they just need a day for themselves, and I think this has changed that mentality.
For anyone who feels a bit nervous about getting the vaccine, I think that’s pretty normal, but there has never been a global effort like this to make a vaccine. So much work has gone into making these vaccines effective and safe, and it’s gone through rigorous testing and safety protocols so I feel very confident in getting the vaccine when it’s my turn.