College is a time to spread your wings and move out of your comfort zone. You’re introduced to a new, independent lifestyle that doesn’t involve your parents. My first semester at Syracuse University was a dream. I formed amazing friendships, created memories, and got involved on campus. Heading back to campus in January, I thought second semester would trump the first, but fate had other plans. COVID-19 emerged all over the country and caused Syracuse to shut down in March. I was sent home to complete my classes online. Living through COVID-19 has taught me three valuable lessons: always be grateful for what you have, reach out to those you love, and to put others before yourself.
Everyone has lost something because of this pandemic. Many have lost their freedoms, their jobs, even their lives. I lost a part of my freshman year that I’ll never get back. However, being able to reminisce on the memories, friends, and connections I’ve made at Syracuse makes the lost time worth it. It’s easy to dwell on the negatives and fail to see the positives. I’m grateful I can still contact my friends, I can still participate with my campus organizations, and I can look back on my freshman year with great joy. I’m grateful that my family and myself are happy, healthy, and able to spend quarantine together. These small privileges have made quarantine less painful.
At Syracuse, I’ve created friendships that’ll last a lifetime and being plucked away from friends who live half-way across the country has been difficult. Luckily, I can still contact them. Interacting with them through a screen isn’t desirable, but it’s the best option available. Even if the messages are a simple, the smallest gestures still have an impact. Checking on those you care about is more important than ever.
Perhaps the best lesson I’ve learned is how to put other’s needs before my own. I understand how difficult it is not being able to live life normally. However, the current conditions are too dangerous and unpredictable to only think of myself. How would I feel if my family was infected? How would I feel if one of my friends was infected? I’m dedicated to abiding by health guidelines and keeping those I love safe. It’s always easy to have fun. What isn’t fun is thinking about how your decisions can inadvertently affect others. I’ve taken the time to prioritize the needs of others over my own.
COVID-19 has completely devastated lives all around the world. Everyone is in this fight together. I’m aware that I’m one small piece of a gigantic puzzle, and I’m doing my part. I’m wearing a mask every time I go out, I’m maintaining my distance, and I’m putting others before myself. I urge you to do the same. COVID-19 has truly taught me how to be a better person, and for that I’m thankful.
Katie Scoville is a Syracuse University journalism student and 2019 graduate of Holy Trinity Catholic High School. She can be reached at email@example.com