I feel like the coronavirus was on my radar earlier than most people, at least in the US. I knew people who had been in Wuhan, China over the summer and I, personally, had gone to Vietnam during that time. I made friends there and I had seen some of their experiences before it occurred here in America. When I first heard about it, though, I was confused. My parents own a dog daycare and they have required shots that dogs need to have before coming in. One of them is for a version of the coronavirus, also known as kennel cough.
I can remember a phone call with my parents around the beginning of January. They mentioned the coronavirus and said they weren’t sure why, but they were more concerned about this disease than others they’ve heard on the news in the past. They weren’t necessarily worried, they were just more aware of it. I am a part of an organization called International Friendship Connection, so after this call, I talked to my friends in this group. There are a few people from China in that group and others from different Asian countries. I talked with them over the course of January and February about their families at home and how they’ve been affected. Most of their families have been safe, even up until now, so that has been good news.
I was also planning on going to China this summer for a research internship. That was the first thing to get canceled. This happened before the coronavirus really hit America. I was already missing out on experiences before people here really understood what was going on.
Then it came to America. It had seemed like we were going to be fine for a little bit and then all of a sudden we were not. I kept hearing about more and more cases in the US. Suddenly it was all anyone ever talked about. I got really tired of talking about it. I still hadn’t known anyone personally affected by the disease and I had seen a lot of different information on the low death rates. Even though I knew there was a high infection rate because of the incubation period, I thought the reaction was a little over the top. I didn’t understand the point of flattening the curve at first, but I soon learned its importance.
When I first heard the news of schools being cancelled, I was in disbelief. I wasn’t aware at the time that my Vietnamese friends had already had their schools cancelled for a month at that point. I thought it was crazy that our university would go online for two weeks. It blew my mind that other schools were already doing that for the rest of the semester. As I thought about it more, I realized it would probably happen with our school too.
I think it finally hit me when my spring break trip was cancelled. I was going on a roadtrip to CA with people who had been living in Ames (there were no confirmed cases in Ames at that point) and we would be camping outdoors for the trip. That was such a low-risk trip compared to how spring break could be. But it was through the school, and they made their decision. They really
held out on giving us that verdict, though. I didn’t find out until 2 days before it was cancelled. That’s when I started realizing how serious it might be. I decided to go to Indiana with some friends just to do something rather than nothing for the break. Every day on that trip, I was learning about more closures and developments. We even had tocome home early because we heard Illinois might be closing its borders.
I made the decision to bring my plants home from my college apartment when I went back to Minnesota for the rest of spring break. I also brought all of my clothes home and my more important items. I’m glad I did becauselater I found out school would be online for the rest of the semester. I haven’t been back to Ames since spring break. I still have a lot of things I left behind and will need to get at some point.
The things I miss the most are the clubs I’m a part of. I am very involved in campus life and it’s been hard not being able to do them, especially because I’ve been doing most of them since Freshman year. I choreographed a dance for Orchesis II and the show got cancelled. I can redo it next semester, but all of my dancers were graduating seniors except for 2. It won’t be the same. I have continued to keep contact with people on Zoom calls, but that’s still not the same.
Now, I’m finally adjusting to working at my parent’s home. I tend to have the “it’s just a break” attitude because I’m only ever home when I’m on a break. Classes haven’t been too terrible online, but it’s hard to concentrate when you have a dog jumping on your laptop and your family is having fun while you need to work.
It’s also hard to do labs. The best part of labs are putting theories into practice and now all I do is watch videos of it and do technical report write-ups. I chose mechanical engineering because it was more hands-on, so this has been a bit of a letdown. My professors and TAs are doing the best they can, however, and I am grateful for the chance to complete them this semester. I already am graduating a semester later due to a co-op. It would be such a bummer to have to push it back even farther. I never thought I would say this, but I am glad that I didn’t graduate this semester. I would’ve missed out on a lot of last moments as a college student and I wouldn’t be able to walk for my graduation ceremony.