The Day the World Changed

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The Day the World Changed

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On March 12th, 2020, I found out the fate of the remainder of my first spring semester as a college student. I don’t remember much about days during quarantine, but I do remember specific details of this day. It was the week before Spring Break for UAB, and all students were preparing for a week off from school. That weekend, my family was planning a trip to New Orleans for the weekend as my mother’s employer offered her a free two-night stay at any hotel of her choosing. My dad and I were planning to finally visit the National World War Two Museum.

As my friend and I were walking to dinner at a local poke place in Five Points South, I received my first email that my English class would remain virtual for the remainder of the semester. My professor had Type 1 Diabetes and did not want to risk his health. Shortly after, the entire student body of UAB received an email that students would not return to campus until April 1st, 2020, at the earliest. While some students decided to pack up all of their belongings and take them home with them, others truly believed we would be coming back on April 1st. I decided not to take my belongings with me and traveled four hours to my hometown for the extended break.

I went home that Friday, March 13th, 2020, after taking my midterm for Biological Anthropology. Once I arrived home, my parents made the decision to cancel our trip as the spread of COVID-19 was unknown at this time, and they did not want to risk going to a public and crowded place like New Orleans. Instead, my father and I traveled four hours back to Birmingham to pack up my dorm room and bring my belongings home. At this time UAB had completely shut down and was limiting access to campus and the dorms. They only allowed me 15 minutes to get any belongings needed. After that trip, UAB officially closed for the remainder of the term and students belongings were moved out of the dorms by moving companies to make room for healthcare workers.

We did not get the chance to go on our New Orleans trip until over two years later, in 2022. I planned a big trip for my 21st birthday with my friends and family. While most restrictions have been lifted, people were still wearing masks, and businesses were still enforcing the three- to six-foot social distancing. I wasn’t surprised, as just earlier in the year, my employer required face masks for the spike in COVID cases in Birmingham. I remember going to restaurants and we were required to wait outside for our table. In the National World War Two museum, there were stickers on the floor that represented how far we should stand from each other. While many of the restrictions, including the social distancing and wearing a mask, had been lifted, it was nice to see that people were still making it a point to follow them for the safety of themselves and others.

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This item was submitted on March 15, 2024 by Megan Griffin using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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