When I started the semester, the thought of it being my last semester was exciting, nerve-racking, and full of conflicting emotions. But, who knew a seemingly normal senior year would change to an unconventional one?
I woke up on the morning of March 9, 2020, thinking it was a normal day. With the dread of waking up in the morning, I wiped the tiredness from my face as I laid in my bed. I checked social media for a daily update, and that’s where it happened, the flow of posts with emails from students at other universities because their school was closing over a period of time. I could not dwell on these messages because my school was not closed. I needed to get ready for the day.
My day consisted of studying, class, and more studying. I had one class, my event planning class, at the Hyatt in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The class was intended to help with the planning of the Eastern Communication Association conference, which is now canceled.
In my opinion, March 9 was the date that marked the start of history. The closure of universities occurred throughout the day. Then, my school, Stevenson University, sent an email out to students saying the school would close until March 26, which is now extended through the end of the semester.
It was around 7:30 p.m. when I came home from class. I had a test the next day that I needed to study for, so I studied for the rest of the evening. I put my things down and walked to my apartment’s common area where my suitemate sat doing homework. I interrupted her to talk about how Stevenson should close because of all of the other schools that were closing.
Within about an hour of procrastination, my complaining turned into happiness. Faint cheers and yelling came from the Quad of my on-campus apartment, as we received an email saying that our university was closing early for the spring break and we would have a week of online learning after spring break.
The happiest day of most students’ life is when they announce the closure of a school. No one saw it coming. Tony Roberts, a student at North Carolina A&T University, found out his classes moved online and stated, “I felt happy initially, but I was also conflicted with thoughts.”
We heard stories about the pandemic coming to the United States, but within less than a month, things changed.
After about a week or two of being home, schools were closed for the rest of the semester. Stores closed. I no longer had to go to work. And most disturbing of all, no one would be allowed to go out unless it was for essential reasons.
Now, we are bound to the house.
We have switched from in-person class learning to online learning.
Everything that we planned for the months of March and May is now non-existent.
Graduations are canceled.
Many things that we imagined for the rest of the year are canceled.
This was not how I imagined my senior year. We are living through a time of firsts, where the government has enforced commands that people stay at home.
I do not know when I will graduate. I did not get to do many of the things that I intended to do to complete the rest of the semester. Life is different now. The last hurrah of my final year of undergrad is over. Now, I am forced to think, because there is nothing left to do, and now, I need to grow up and be an adult.
This final year was supposed to be different. I was figuring things out. I was starting to develop new relationships. I lived with people I considered friends. We had plans that are now changed.
I was supposed to be a bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding. Where I would have a day of pampering with my future sister-in-law. I can imagine the bride in her robe and towel around her head with the bridesmaids in their robes toasting to their union before getting ready for the day. We would get ready in a room full of girls with the hairstylist doing our hair.
The next week after the wedding, I was supposed to complete my journey through college with my gown on and a decorated cap on my head, which I had not yet decided on what was going to be on it. The long-awaited walk across the stage would finally happen, and I would get to celebrate my accomplishments and have my parents cry and say, “I’m so proud of you.”
One day soon, I hope to be able to experience those moments that were planned, but things have changed. I hope to be able to enjoy these moments that have been talked about but not completed yet. It is funny how things that were intended to happen are now what we hope and pray will occur again. But, the world does not revolve around me, and the reality is, a crisis can happen at any moment and derail lives, even when they could be filled with joyous moments. The experiences that were meant to make memories are gone. The world is at home, working, and going to school from home. We have orders that we cannot leave the house without a mask. Life as we knew it, is now different. We are afraid of the virus knocking at the door.
Those of us who are students were initially happy at the thought of having a break from classes, but this is an entirely different ballgame. Sitting at home for the rest of the semester working on my classes is a far cry from what was expected. Something that was initially happiness has turned into disappointment about the things that could have been.