Such is life in Covid Time

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Such is life in Covid Time

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On February 21st, 2021, one of my professors—while on an exceedingly off-topic tangent during a lecture about Medival Spain—flippantly remarked that in the age that we currently live in, there is now such a thing as “BCT” (“Before Covid Time”) and “CT” (“Covid Time”). According to him, we are currently living in both the year 2021 AD (or CE) and the year 1 CT. Our life as we know it, in the eyes of my professor and Julius Ceaser, is measured and marked by the birth of Jesus Christ and the contagious disease known as Covid-19. And just as it was for the birth of Jesus Christ, it exceedingly easy to pinpoint the exact moment when such a shift in time, from BCT to CT (at least in the United States), had occurred.
It was the second week of March. Or, to be more exact, the 12th of March, the day when everything changed for a college student such as myself.
On March 8th, 2020 (both AD and BCT), I had awoken as an average American college student in my dorm room. I had just gotten back from a spring break study abroad trip to the country of Cuba, and I was excited for classes to start back up the following day (and continue for the rest of the semester). Nothing was out of the ordinary. Life was continuing as we knew it. Covid-19 was an intangible construct at that point in time, some unseen nightmare way off in the distance that could not reach us. Nothing we needed to worry about, especially as young college students. There were hardly any reported cases yet if any in the United States. Everyone used to say, “oh, that Covid thing? Yeah, it’s just in China. Or Spain. Or Italy,” and then they would go about their day, not giving it any more thought. It was hardly even anything newsworthy. When I was in Cuba that first week of March, the only news we ever received (when we got signal or wifi, which was not often) was about the election, nothing Covid related. People even made jokes about it. That was just how life was in BCT, even a week before everything changed. Hell, even a few days before.
On Monday that week, everything was normal, college life as I knew it continued—I saw my friends, got my meals in the ever so crowded dining hall, and went to classes with the max capacity of students. On Wednesday, the college Instagram meme page had posted a Covid update for the first time—there was a confirmed case not too far from campus—yet things continued as usual. However, on Friday, March 12th, 2020, almost a week after I had been partying it up in a packed club in Cuba with absolutely no awareness of the elusive plague that thrived halfway across the world, the shoe suddenly, and finally, dropped. I had shown up to my “Basics of Math” class to find that there were only five people (other than me) in attendance, and not even six hours later, we were given three hours to pack up and leave campus (pictured, me in the midst of packing up). I did not know it then, but we would not be allowed back on campus for another five months, almost 160 days in total.
It is no exaggeration when I say that from that moment on, I felt as if I were a Depression Era family, evicted from their home, with all their belonging out on their lawn, with no knowledge of where to go from there. Even though I had my childhood home to go to, I felt, for lack of a better term, “out on my butt.” It was as if I was displaced, uprooted, cut adrift, and lost. I had not even unpacked any of my belongings when I arrived back home. I lived out of my haphazardly packed—and it was haphazard; I had packed up my dorm room in a sweat-inducing and crazed rush—suitcase until it was time once more to pack up and go back to college five months later. And my physical being was not the only thing that felt disoriented.
Just as I imagine it was with most other college students during this time, the 2020 spring semester was one of my worst academically performing semesters to date. Although now, almost a full year later (entirely in Covid time), I am most adept at zoom life and the socially-distanced way classes are held, at the time, absolutely not. With every single one of my classes now on Zoom or some virtual variant, it became most difficult for me to adjust to the new way of things. Not even the professors knew what they were doing. Everyone was struggling. And it certainly did not help that my house had now taken on the most distracting nature ever to date. My sister, my mother, and my father were quarantined with me at home. That particular combination of people and location was about as conducive for my studies as it would be if I were studying amid an active circus. Not even when I was in class could I be completely unbothered. With no desk in my room, which I shared with my sister at the time, I was forced to partake in class and do my assignments while sitting next to my mother taking business calls, my sister playing on her Nintendo switch or watching a tv show, and my dad listening in on his own classes or playing the drums. It was a breeding ground for distraction. I would go as far as to say that I was lucky I even got the grades I ended up with that semester. It truly was an abysmal time. Although I certainly do not have to tell anyone that. Life as a college student during CT had proved most difficult. And it still has not entirely let up.
Although for the 2020 to 2021 academic year we have thankfully been allowed back on campus, student life has not yet reverted to how it once was (for better or worse). Classes now have a capacity limit (with socially distanced desks, six feet apart), the dining hall tables now only sit two, we have to make reservations for every meal (to limit how many people there are at a certain time), you are not able to frequent any dorms other than your own, masks must be worn at all times, some classes are held over zoom, or even outside, off-campus travel is prohibited, and there are only specific entrances and exits you can use for every college building. College life—a time which was always regarded as the free-est time of one’s whole life—is now the most massively regulated. And all I can say to that is, “c’est la vie.” Such is life in “Covid time.”

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This item was submitted on February 17, 2021 by Kaitlyn Anderson using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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