Voices during Covid-19
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
This blog is about young adults' stories during these unprecedented times. I hope that if you're struggling you find comfort in knowing that you're not alone.
Pictures by my friend and artist Alexia Celia Peza https://www.facebook.com/AlexiaCeliaPezaArtist/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
First of all, a big thank you to all who contributed to this blog. If anyone wishes to be part of it, there is still time to message me your story; I'm happy to update the blog anytime.
A few words:
When I started this blog, I wanted to practice my writing and hopefully offer something valuable and fun to read as an escape from everyday life. I don't have a plan or a theme for the blog; it's a tiny glimpse of the stories and experiences I've recently had as a person and a journalist. Fun fact about me: since I was a kid I found joy in writing about life as it happens, so I've had many diaries.
This is my covid-19 story.
2020, a year filled with new goals and dreams, didn't start well for me. When I finally solved all my problems (that was around the end of Feb.), covid-19 hit us. My plans were turned upside down again. Not only school but my martial arts practices and my jobs were suspended. Thankfully, school and my internship continue online, but seeing people through a screen is not the same as some of you know. With covid-19, I found myself stuck at home with minimal supplies and away from my family. (Yep, I'm not a hoarder so I did run out of toilet paper. Luckily, someone helped me with that.) Everything felt like an apocalypse, empty supermarket aisles, panicked people, a million phone calls, etc.
Being international came with its own struggles. If I go to Greece, how do I deal with the 7-hour difference and my group projects? Do I wake up at night at 3:30 a.m. - 5:30 a.m. to be in class? (My lectures are not pre-recorded; I still need a participation grade.) What will happen to my internship? What will happen to my student status? Will I be able to return to the U.S. in August? And then if I don't go, what if I get stuck here in the States?
What if something happens to my loved ones back home? (A family member is actually sick; it's been hard...) She described that having the coronavirus is "unimaginable; you don't want this. Stay home and be happy that you're doing nothing because at least you're not sick."
Currently, Greece is on lockdown and people have to file papers to get out of the house even for a trip to the grocery store. The system has worked great for containing the virus in Greece, but it's also a smaller country so it's easier to enforce it.
As for me, I stayed here in Maryland, where I can go for a run without filing a paper. No matter how hard it is, I remain positive. I've adapted better to the situation and like everyone else stay patient. I hope to go home soon, but until then I find joy in little things like nature runs, writing stories, baking, talking to friends and family and reading. Huge shoutout to everyone keeping us safe!
Here are your covid-19 stories:
"Covid-19 has definitively changed my daily routine and my times! As a businessman leading a company from DC to Chile and with online classes at Georgetown University, I spend a lot of time working from my apt. Maintaining social distance has been a burden because all conference rooms and cafes that I usually use for working and studying are closed. Now my apt is my new "operation center." The problem? Well, like every father with a little child, your kid doesn't understand this situation so that his tantrums and energy within the apt complicated my studies and Zoom sessions. Now, I'm working at night; I sleep a couple of hours and try to be efficient with my time. The good news? My son is receiving the attention that every child wants and deserves from his father!" - Rodrigo Andrade
"Since March 17 I have been working from home. At my job, I control our social media platforms and have to come up with the copy for each post. It has been very difficult to continue the constant positivity on each post that I used to. I have noticed that people at my company start working later and continue sending emails late at night. Some even at 2 am! This is obviously a very stressful time for all so I am also thinking about how lucky I am to be still living at home with my parents and have that support system. My boyfriend lives in an apartment by himself in another state so I do believe our communication and relationship are growing stronger with daily FaceTimes and text messages. The hardest part of all of this is the distancing from my grandmother's. I usually see them every few weeks but now the distancing is the best thing I can do for them and everyone else’s grandmothers." - Margaret
"I'm studying in Germany and we are facing huge problems with the university system. All second try exams of this Semester are being moved to next summer. That means we are talking about an extreme increase in the number of exams during the summer. Meanwhile, we have yet to see how the whole situation with online schooling is working out. It’s very unfortunate because even though students should not be affected because of this crisis we are fearing the fact that it will put more pressure on us as students." Lazaros Tsetinis
"Right now, I have a little different experience then most I would say. I work for an IT consultant company. We still have to go onsite and help everyone get ready to work from home or set them up in their new location. It’s hard to stay home when you still have to work. But besides that, I live by myself in CT struggling to get some items from the store like everyone else. This whole pandemic is surely changing the way we all are going to be/do in the future." - Evan Schwartz
"It's unexpected that one day my daily routine flipped upside down. When Covid-19 was in China, I didn't think that it would spread worldwide. When it reached the USA, one of the challenges I faced was transferring to online classes. I don't like taking online classes because it really kills the curiosity and entertainment of education. I feel like studying on-campus helps me organize my time. Normally, I would work out every morning and go for a walk outside. Also, I would also gather with friends every weekend and relax. After covid-19 hit us, I couldn’t do this anymore; I'm stuck in my home. Being away from my family during this time is tough for me because I'm worried about them more than myself. The news makes it worse when I see the damage that this virus created to the world. One thing that drives me crazy is that we don't know when this will finish and we can't figure out our next steps." - Abud Binashikh
"I'm usually the type of person to adapt fast in new situations. During this very much unprecedented time for our generation, as soon as my college shut down and I lost my three jobs due to the virus, I started seeing borders shutting down. I knew I had to act fast, or I would be locked out of my country, so I immediately booked a plane ticket for two days later. I had to quickly find where to park the car indefinitely, ship the equipment that wouldn't fit in my luggage and resolve things with my apartment. Preparing for the airport, I had covered myself top to bottom as to avoid coming in contact with the virus. My initial flight with British Airways from Los Angeles to Athens, Greece, was canceled, but thankfully, I was put on the next one with Turkish Airways. During the flight, I was dumbfounded by the carelessness and irresponsibility of people coughing and sneezing all over the plane without using protective masks, knowing they could be putting people at risk. The same goes for the Turkish airport in which I had a layover. The problem was, my flight there was canceled as well, and I would have to wait 14 hours until the next flight. I did my best to keep everything around me sanitary and I avoided people as much as I could. Seeing all the people stuck in the British and Turkish airports mere days after my return, solidified that I had made the right decision at the right time. It is now the sixth day of quarantine since my arrival to Greece, with 8 remaining and I have yet to display any symptoms, so, here is hoping. I hope everyone is keeping safe these days!" - Alexander Manolides
"I study in Scotland. The university was supposed to close on the 14th of March for spring break and I had booked tickets to Greece. I was really worried about the situation even though we didn’t have any cases in the town where I study and I didn’t know if it was best to stay there or go back to Greece. After talking to my parents I decided that it would be best to go back. The university sent us an email on the day I was about to fly to Greece, warning us that we should take any equipment and material we would need in case we had to be taught remotely for some days after the break. I thus took what I would need with me. After two days of being in Greece, I received an email saying that all teaching would be continued remotely after the break, as well as exams. I thus decided to stay in Greece until September, since there was no other choice. Most of my things are still in my dorm and thankfully the university is going to sort things out concerning storage and package. I could say that the university has taken every measure so that our studies are not disrupted and people with time difference issues can follow the lectures and professors genuinely care about our wellbeing and support us as much as they can. Everyone is going through a tough time and I hope this ends soon." - Marina Anagnostopoulou
"I have to say that I am in a very fortunate position right now, with near-assured job security and the option to telework. In fact, I have the opportunity to rather significantly increase my income through overtime (up to 56 hours total a week), and now that all activities and venues have been shut down, there is little reason not to do so. Every crisis also brings with it unexpected opportunities; for example, now might be a good chance to buy stock or real estate while prices are low in anticipation of the future recovery, which if history is any guide, will eventually and inevitably come. For better or worse, human civilization has weathered greater challenges, and this too shall pass." - Royce
"I am not a university student, even so, COVID-19 has caused major changes to my career. I work for an international publisher, so my position is directly linked to global education. My organization's primary objective is to support students and teachers worldwide through their struggles to transfer learning into the virtual world. But what does that mean for us... the employees? Since the beginning of the quarantine, we have been facing long working hours in isolation. For an industry that depends on travel and interpersonal relations, remote work has been a major disturbance. This new way of working, combined with the business uncertainty of a global epidemic about which we know very little, has transformed each working day into a daunting mystery. Even so, the objective is clear. Each one of us can help contain the virus. We all have the responsibility to stay at home while doing our best to keep the economy going and to make knowledge and education available to every student" - Natalia Galanou
"COVID 19 has crazy effects on people in law schools. First off, like most other schools, law schools have gone remote, but law schools make that uniquely complicated. There are national accreditation guidelines that demand law school students participate live in classes to some extent, so zoom is the only real option/pre-recorded lectures are not good enough. This makes things a pain when people are currently living in different time-zones. In addition, law school grades are more important than grades in any other program imaginable and are completely career determinative. Additionally, grades in law school are typically graded on a curve, so your grade depends on how everyone else does in comparison. As a result, many top law schools have mandated forced P/F credits and essentially made sure no one receives grades in order to level the playing field. While a good measure, overall, things are complicated right now because these are drastic measures and stop anyone from raising their grades. Typically, the way law school works is with two price brackets, some people make 190k immediately (minority) after graduation and others make 60k with limited upward mobility. Employment is based almost 100% based on grades and interviews typically happen after the end of the 1st year of law school for a job 2nd summer that typically has a 95% chance of getting you a final job offer. Eliminating a full semester of grades essentially removed 1/2 a chance of grade control for some people and things are especially chaotic because there are talks to move interviews to January this year so employers have more grade info to work with. The fact that not every school has made the same grade change complicates things further. Grading aside, people are very worried about economic factors. Law typically doesn't do great during recessions. People with job offers planning to start next fall are worried firms will rescind or delay their offers. Even if they don't, the BAR exam may have to be canceled, which may prevent anyone from being a real attorney for many months (something that will obviously have horrible repercussions). Those that are meant to have 2nd-year summer jobs this semester are especially worried their summer job will be canceled or delayed because they still have another year of school left. Losing that job would be terrible because people in the 190k bracket will end up falling to 60k or unemployment (it is impossibly hard to get the higher-paying jobs if you do not start there and get the job through 2nd-year summer). They also worry that even if the program isn't canceled firms will be sparing with final post-graduation job offers when typically over 95% of summers end up with one. 1st-year students are worried because of the potential impact of grading changes and the fact that if firms honor commitments to the 2nd and 3rd years they already hired, they probably won't need many 1st years because of the sudden recession that made them overestimate their needs. In addition to all this is the risk of getting sick/high average debt loads/risk of familial unemployment, etc. Crazy times." - Greg Sefian
"As a student and an artist, I have also been affected like the rest of the world by the Covid-19 crisis in Greece. I would like to thank my high school friend Elena Kefalogianni for the invitation to express my thoughts about my experience during the Covid-19 crisis. In the beginning, many of us thought that this was not a big deal, that it was a joke. But when we started hearing about Italy, we knew that there was something serious going on. I had friends who would tell me that “it is only old people who are greatly affected” that it wouldn’t affect us the younger generations. Through the media, from what I have seen the facts are always changing. People are scared. The streets started to empty. Now, I am not sure if people actually went to the beach and to social gatherings as the media have said… because the empty streets I saw were a sign that Greeks listened, even before the extreme measures of the government. However, I also remember people from my university who were sharing on social media pictures and videos of themselves partying. When my university announced that it would close due to cases of Covid-19, I was in shock. The text message was sent at 4:39 am. It was kind of ironic because I had symptoms of the flu, a slight fever, and a running nose. I was not sure what it was. So, when I heard the advice from the news to stay at home if you're having symptoms of the flu, I stayed home. My fever lasted for two days and the running nose kept its course for about a week. When I was better, I only went out for certain necessities: groceries or walking the dog. I kept the social distance restriction and followed the health policy.
The most difficult part I think is staying away from loved ones. I know we have the technology, our computers, and our phones, but everyone knows that it is not the same as human interaction. This crisis has affected the entire system in which we live and depend on. No one knows where it will lead. Turns out it is serious because our health care system was not prepared due to the government’s lack of care. Turns out that the health care system is one of the most important things in our society. No one thought or expected that the government would put extreme social restrictions or the lockdown. I think this will be very difficult for everyone due to the emotional anxiety that it causes. I say this because I have been experiencing anxiety and other emotions since the day my university locked up on March 10th. I noticed that I have symptoms of grief and I know this because I have experienced grief before. It will not be easy with isolation. I don’t eat much or I don’t have an appetite at all times. I stay awake every day now until the morning. Sometimes I wake up at 8 am, other days I sleep until the afternoon. I'm always on alert. There is this constant desire of not wanting to think so I try to keep myself busy. Emotional health is really important and I think that people are going to have a hard time staying at home all the time. Human beings need human interactions. These circumstances might affect all our ways of living: jobs, economy, entertainment, businesses, etc. They already have in a minor way but if this takes longer, the more of a disastrous effect it will have in our economy which will then affect people. Now I have come to question everything, if they really cared about the sensitive groups of people who are more likely to die from Corona-virus 19, why are they locking us up like animals? Why are they not taking care and isolating the sensitive groups to protect them? If the people are locked up and the economy collapses everyone will suffer.. so why are leaders doing this? Also, the transition of the classroom experience to the online experience has been really strange. Most Universities have prepared their students with online assignments before, however, the experience of a lesson through a screen is way different. Staying at home perhaps gives us the flexibility to prepare, but, under the circumstances, there has been great discomfort and anxiety. I think that the educational system should take it easy on students because the amount of homework is way more now, due to the need for marking absences. I understand that the transition is hard for everyone and that teachers and professors have a lot of stress too. However, due to this crisis, I would like to remind people that emotional stress can make it very hard for some people to concentrate. Especially the younger children in schools. I'm not sure how successful online lessons will be. In most mediums, the need for human interaction is a necessity. As an art student, I know that in art courses there is a need for gatherings and human interaction for criticizing projects. Art students need to work in a studio with certain materials and during the process, they need the guidance of their professors. Now, it will be extremely difficult for courses that require artists to showcase their projects of installations, drawings, sculptures. Today March 28th, my university sent me an email with a letter. Turns out it is not known for sure when students will return on campus, they say perhaps after May 4th. We will be given a week for preparation before our exams for the semester. However, there is a possibility that this will last longer, we might have to wait until the summer. There is also the possibility for students to register for the summer even though classes might be given online depending on the government’s orders.. due to the virus... So, I wonder how will I take a course, a drawing class, online? How will this work without human interaction? I'm not sure it can work out.. also if this crisis lasts a long time and the economy is greatly affected in a disastrous way, what will happen to education? Are students and people going to be able to continue to build their futures? I'm worried that the virtual world cannot be a solution for education or employment, etc. We have to consider other issues occurring: people losing their jobs, the economy falling, which will also affect young people’s futures. I hope that none of these things happens and that this crisis ends soon." - Alexia Celia Peza
"Everyone keeps talking about the fact that this isn't something new and people get sick all the time, but I see it differently. I see people getting stuck not able to go back home or see family that lives out of state. I see people worried about not being able to make rent or if they'll have a job for much longer. I see people fighting with loved ones more. I see parents struggling to come to terms with this new way their child behaves at school. I see people like myself afraid that they'll never see elderly love ones again. But unlike other cold seasons, I also see hope. I see hope in neighbors checking in on one another. I see people sewing masks for medical personal while demanding equipment for those on the front line. I see people loving others and isolating themselves because of this love. And most of all I see the wisdom that we will have once this is done and the ways we will strive to make sure this never happens again." - Erika Spalin
"In these tough times, it is completely understandable and one can relate to the prevailing situation where depression, isolation, social distancing, and quarantine fall under the same bracket. Coping with it is an art we all are born to deal with by nature. There can be a number of ways to deal with it, but there’s no escape; it is part of our existence on this planet. When you go against nature, nature goes against you. Hence, this COVID -19 is an alarm clock for us to wake up to the call to connect back to nature, which we have not only used but also abused and mishandled as well as ignored completely by not responding to its calls. The giant of consumption has now consumed us. Being away from home and leaving in the USA although it seems hard to sustain my daily life, it is a time to lay back and consider myself as a global citizen and try to figure out the ways I can help my fellow human beings in crisis by understanding my duty as a civic good." - Sara Anwar
THANK YOU ALL!
Stay Strong - Stay Home!
Sending love to Italy, Spain, and NY <3
P.S. This blog is dedicated to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me this semester.