Life has been a whirlwind ever since Covid19 walked into our lives. The question remains : How will coronavirus change the world? I mean, it already has, but it’s far from over. Unfortunately, it has been underestimated from day one. Here’s the point of view of a young girl in her twenties, in Vancouver, Canada. My name is Emily
How Will Coronavirus Change the World?
In early January, the word “coronavirus” started making waves across the world but nobody knew how far reaching and devastating this virus would be. By March, what we thought was a little problem in Wuhan, China arrived on our doorstep — forcing everyone to take notice as it made it’s way to every country, town and city. I don’t know how you prepare to be a character in a science-fiction plot. They didn’t teach me that in college. It wasn’t an option, but here we are.
When I first heard about the virus, it seemed as though it was nothing to worry about in Canada. We all were able to continue with our everyday lives as it was being reported to only be impacting Europe and China and did not seem as though it would arrive here. I had actually heard a brief mention in passing of this virus in February when I woke up feeling nauseous one day.
My mom told me, “You should be careful. There is a virus that has been reported and is causing problems in China.”
I replied, “I do not think it is anything to worry about.”
Whispers of this coronavirus were circling the halls, making its way onto social media, and being portrayed on the news as a warning. With some caution in mind, I went about my everyday life. I transit downtown often, experience nightlife with friends amongst crowds of strangers, and am almost always in contact with other people. Being young you feel as though you are invincible. You can be healthy, active, have no medical history, and still be exposed to this virus. It was something that people may have realized when it was too late to even think about having some control over.
In the middle of February, before travel restrictions were put in place, I went to Hawaii. I was aware that COVID-19 was making its way into Canada but still did not think it was something that would change the travel plans I had made. I did what was advised and washed my hands as often as possible, carried hand sanitizer with me everywhere, and Lysol-wipe down my seats. I am lucky to have made it back safely. My oblivion to the virus was something I am not proud of. I did take extra measures to ensure I was safe throughout the trip but did not realize by flying and coming home I could be putting my loved ones at risk. After I landed, I had class the next day and continued life as I knew it.
The next week, I was running a few minutes late and found myself being one of the only people in the room. Before I knew it and had a chance to catch up, there ended up being only four people in the class that afternoon because the school had just announced we would be moving the rest of the semester to online learning.
At this moment, the feeling of uncertainty entered my thoughts. Should I have been more careful? Was everyone doing their part to ensure the virus was not spreading? How did this happen? COVID-19 at that point and to this day have implemented changes to the way we function in this world and our outlook on how we will live the rest of our lives. It is not a passing thought anymore, it is our new reality.
Hearing that the rest of the semester was being moved online made me realize the true value of having an education and the way I view life. Attending class in person, walking over to your friends’ dorms, greeting people in the halls of your school, sitting in an exam room, are things you never once thought you have taken for granted. What we once may have thought was a temporary change has lasted months with no concrete end in sight. You didn’t get a proper goodbye with your friends and the person you sit next to in lecture won’t be there next time. We are lucky to receive an elbow bump as a greeting if we do come in contact with anyone. One day, you are leaving campus not realizing the uncertainty of when you will be returning.
Something else that struck my mind was all of the international students who had to leave immediately and could have no way to return home. Flights were getting canceled, students living in housing were told they have a certain amount of time to move out before they have to shut down areas of the campus, students abroad had to hurry home. It was a pandemic no one had prepared for when they decided to go to a different country to experience an education.
A heartbreak that students felt around the world was from the graduating classes of 2020. Years of hard work, thousands of dollars, and hundreds of papers later you never expected to receive an email saying your graduation will be canceled due to a global pandemic. The feeling of getting ready for your graduation and prom night will be missed. Not being able to go on a college tour or finish off your first year of university has been stripped away. Any graduation celebrations had to be put on pause.
The word “postponed” has been used a lot during this time but it does not disregard the sadness that is felt when the one moment you have been waiting years for cannot happen when you expected it to. Everyone, whether you had a project to pitch, graduation date, wedding day, carries that date in their mind as motivation to get through the days until then; acting as a light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly you are faced with the feeling of waking up and realizing how fast life as we know it can change. We are lucky to have those in charge look out for us and postpone events for our own safety reasons. Even cancellations. As hard as it is, it is important to stay safe and protect those around us, especially events that include large gatherings.
A change that I will personally not take for granted is the feeling of waking up to go to school. As small of an action as it may sound, it will never be looked at the same as we are now introduced to a system where working from our bedrooms and home is considered the new normal. We no longer get to wake up and go to the office or meet friends in the library to study. Suddenly, you miss the sound of a packed elevator and doing that one task that you have been putting off on your to-do list for weeks. I’m entering my final semesters and find it so strange that I will only be seeing my classmates and peers through a screen. I had to let the reality I may not be able to experience my final semester of my undergraduate degree in person. And that’s okay.
My plans to have a summer job had to take a halt as companies were having to cancel positions and dealing with their own ways to care for their employees during this time. A lot of students’ plans for applying and receiving a summer internship or job to gain experience after graduation or finding their passions had to be stopped. These are all situations that were not expected but can be a reminder that not everything is certain and backup plans are good to have. Although it has been sad to go through, I also found that during this time I could find new ways to better myself and my work.
When the time comes, whenever that may be, and we are able to safely go back to work and apply to new internships, we could find ways to bring more to the table. By searching YouTube videos to learn how to edit photos or design can help you build your portfolio during this time away. Using applications like Skillshare or even taking free online classes that some universities have been offering to learn basic coding can be an excellent skill to add to your résumé. Although we cannot physically be at the jobs and placements we worked so hard for, we could see this as an opportunity to learn new skills and enhance what we already know.
Adobe and other applications have been very generous and allow students and others to use their platforms for free during this time. If there is anything we have learned during this time, it is to embrace and solve new situations that arise. When preparing for a job interview, we now have an answer to “what is one adversity you have had to overcome?”
I believe the hardest aspect for me to grasp is the freedom that we once had without realizing has been taken for granted. We never realized how lucky we were to be able to walk into our favorite store or spot carefree. Now, we are not allowed to go out unless it is to get groceries or anything that is labeled as essential. It makes you think back on all the non-essential businesses we took for granted. I never realized how much comfort I received when I could sit in a cafe and do my work.
The environments we place ourselves in can shift how we focus and when being taken out of them, our whole groove can be shaken. Most environments are filled with people and now suddenly waiting in that lineup during a Monday morning rush does not sound so bad. Even being able to turn on the television to watch a hockey game or talk show has changed and something we were so familiar with was going through the same problems as everyone else.
The freedom we once had will change the ways in which we place ourselves in this world and how we are utilizing our time. We can get so used to the hustle of life that we never take the time to sit back and just enjoy what is around us. There is a beauty in life that comes with freedom, and it is something that will be looked at from a different perspective once we are allowed to experience it again. Until then, we can sit back and envision what our priorities are and be ready to take them on with a new mindset.
Another freedom we once had was being able to travel. Traveling has now been restricted and flights are being canceled all around the world to prevent spreading the virus in order for people to remain safe. There are so many places in the world I have been wanting to see and now I know there are situations like this I need to keep in mind when planning any trip. Weddings people have had booked for a year had to be moved as there are no venues allowed to be opened during this time, which when booking was probably never considered a factor. These are all situations we now have to consider before committing to anything long term or planning an intricate event.
This virus has truly changed my mindset when thinking about the future and I am glad it came with the realizations.The next time I plan a trip I will begin by researching the current climate of the place I am going to and how to take precautions if anything were to happen. Packing an emergency kit is something I will always carry with me and is important to have. Prioritizing our safety has always been something people would do but now we realize we need to go the extra step for the sake of ourselves and others. I remember my mom always pestering me to go and get travel insurance when I go on trips out of the country. What I once thought was nagging, is now something I will always do without hesitation.
Not being able to see loved ones during this time has been hard. People are growing up and you now have to keep in contact through a screen. Social media has never been more of a useful communication platform than right now. Throughout my four years of university, I have spent a lot of time working and not living in the moment. Sometimes I would miss family events, say no to hanging out with friends, or not do something that brings me joy. I never realized how much I missed out on by always having a busy schedule. Not that anything is wrong with keeping yourself busy, I believe there is a point where you need to slow down.
This pandemic is limiting me from seeing my loved ones and friends has made me realize how small interactions can mean so much. Waving at your friend on the street has never been more special. Hugging a loved one means more now than ever before. I think we could all use a hug right now. No matter what life brings, never miss a moment to spend time appreciating your loved ones. We realize now more than ever that prioritizing our needs is important and to really focus on what matters.
I think one major takeaway from this pandemic is that whatever you may feel is not an invalid response. Some are taking this time to better themselves, clean out their closets, or embark on new projects. While others are using this time to catch up on their sleep or rest not knowing what the next day holds. And that is OK. It is also important to ensure you are doing things that make you happy and forgive yourself for the times when you are not productive or filled with worry. It’s normal. You’re human. Forgive yourself and others.
If you find yourself not finding any fulfillment from the actions you are making, recognize that and try to take a step towards doing something else. The news can get overwhelming and hard to hear. You do not need to spend every waking moment wrapped up in what is being said and gain new worries. Do not feel as though you need to be productive like the people you are seeing online. As long as you are socially distancing and isolating from other people not in your homes is important. As well as washing your hands. Isn’t it crazy to think things like personal hygiene were not being promoted or thought of as important until this happened?
I have always been keen on carrying hand sanitizer with me everywhere as I transit a lot so I am glad to know we are all going to be more careful and clean from this point forward. The question “How Will COVID-19 Change The World?” can have many answers. As mentioned, the way we place ourselves and our time in this world will forever be impacted. The steps we make towards ensuring we are safe will be taken more seriously and we will be more aware of our actions. Our mindsets may change and we will realize what is important in life.
The phrase “we are stronger together” has never been more true. By providing support for one another and those working during this time, whether it is sending a note, making noise at 7PM, sending flowers, and so on, we are helping each other throughout the times we need it most. It is important to take care of your mental health during this time. There have been many resources released for those who are struggling or just want someone to talk to during this time. It is important to acknowledge your feelings. Worry, sadness, and anger can all stem from this current climate, and not knowing when we will be able to live life as we know it again is hard to think about.
Reaching out to a loved one during this time to show support is something that can make a meaningful impact on their current situation. I personally have been having a hard time going through this quarantine. As I am used to going out, I almost do not know the purpose I serve being at home. It has made me sad, angry, and very tired. I realized that I needed to start doing things I enjoy in my free time, such as writing. I began to seek counseling and realize that is it truly okay not to be okay. I feel as though I have this mask on social media and around people to ensure that my struggles are not being showcased. I think it is time to have the conversation of knowing that we all handle situations differently and there is no wrong or right way to do so. Although we may not bounce back right away, every step is a small step towards becoming the best versions of ourselves that we feel is right.
I wanted to take this time to thank those working during this time and the non-essential workers who are just as important during this time. To the first responders, care-aids, grocery store managers and workers, leaders, professors adjusting to this switch to online education, baristas still working to ensure people get their morning coffee, veterinarians and pet stores ensuring we are still able to care for our pets during this time, and the list goes on. Words cannot describe how important you are to everyone right now and how much we value your work. To the businesses that had to close, we cannot wait to support you once we are able to. And to everyone going through this hard time, we are with you. Thank you.
These have been difficult days for all of us and beyond how Covid19 will change the world, I can’t help but wonder how Covid19 will change me, and everyone else that this virus has affected. I hope and pray for better days and that we all come together as a species. The world needs more love and kindness. This pandemic has made me realize how much we all need each other. We all need people who care about us to get us through times like this.