Definition of ambivalent: having mixed feelings
COVID-19 stole a number of potential memories from my youth: senior year, high school graduation, prom, etc. Yet, I feel that the biggest loss for me was missing out on the beginning of my college career. College was a time that I looked forward to all my life. It’s an opportunity to leave behind childhood, to go out into the world and explore. It’s a chance to really understand yourself and discover what you value and what your passions are. I was set to attend New York University Shanghai (NYUSH) in the fall. I was beyond excited to travel to China, experience the food and culture, and most of all to meet people from all around the world. However, my plans were drastically altered by the emergence of Coronavirus.
Most college students experienced virtual learning in 2020, but very few experienced online learning in the way me and my classmates did. I was forced to remain at home in California, when I was supposed to be studying abroad in Shanghai. We were taking classes in China Standard Time (CST), which for me was 15 hours ahead. Thus, my classes would begin around 5:00pm and end anywhere from 3:00 to 5:00 am, since I was on the West Coast. Communicating with professors was extremely difficult due to the large time difference. During this time, I felt lonely. I was unable to attend classes on campus and I was unable to interact with my classmates. All our relationships were virtual. This isolation made it difficult for me to focus on my studies. I became unmotivated to do my work and even wished to skip my lectures.
Yet, as a perfectionist, I knew that I could not continue these behaviors much longer, or else my education would be negatively affected. This period of virtual learning forced me to become more responsible for myself. No teacher or parent would be there to keep me on track. I needed to be the one to self-discipline. This meant being proactive and emailing my professors when I had questions. Making schedules and to-do lists to manage my time. I even began to contact classmates via social media, which was unusual for such an introverted person like me. However, these connections and relationships I formed during COVID helped immensely. I no longer felt so alone and overwhelmed in my college experience.
While COVID and lockdown took a toll on my mental health, it was also a time where I grew as a person. I became more self aware of my responsibilities and developed better self-discipline. I gained new skills for time management and organization. I learned how to hold myself accountable and most of all I grew to become a more social person. During such isolating times, I still found ways to meet new people and form meaningful relationships. Although the pandemic stole memories from me, these were the things that it did give me and I'm grateful for what I gained.