What The Pandemic Has Taught Us

Almost a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic started. It has been a period of changing routines, relationships and values. The pandemic has forced most people to slow down and reflect; The University News wanted to know how this experience has affected SLU students. We asked nine students: What has this pandemic taught you about yourself? 

San Kwon

During the pandemic, social interaction was limited. San Kwon says that this lack of interaction took an extreme toll on relationships, especially since he couldn’t see friends and family in person. However, this experience has been a learning experience, and when asked what the pandemic has taught him, Kwon says, This pandemic has taught me that a support group is really important to me. Talking to close friends and calling my parents or my twin brother to tell them what’s going on in my life has really helped my mental health. During the lockdown, I didn’t do that, and it made me really lonely and made me feel like I was suffocating inside in my room, just stuck there; same for my girlfriend. I realize there are a lot of things I took for granted, and there are things I’ve come to appreciate a lot more now.”

Alex Bigos

When the pandemic hit, Alex Bigos wondered how much damage the virus would do. She was extremely scared about the potential effects of COVID-19. Her high school initially told her that they would resume school in two weeks, but this did not happen. Here at SLU, Bigos says that she’s “able to connect with a lot more people” in an environment that’s conscientious of the rules but not so far apart that you’re unable to connect. Bigos says, when you’re at home, it can be easy to get into the mindset of not wanting to talk to anyone. At SLU, this attitude goes away because of how easy it is to see people; being at SLU has put a positive outlook on the situation for her. When asked what the pandemic has taught her, Bigos says it has shown her who her true friends are. She says, “during this pandemic, I’ve been able to really let go of false friendships and people that weren’t making me happier or benefitting my life. I’ve just been finding deeper friendships, deeper meaning, losing friendships, and making new ones.” Additionally, having in-person classes and living on campus is something Bigos is very appreciative of, saying that it is “amazing that we can still be here in person.”

Abby Edwards

When the country first went into lockdown, Abby Edwards thought that after a two-week mandatory lockdown, it could be a possibility for the virus to go away. However, she was disappointed with the public’s response to the virus; some people in the U.S. were not taking the pandemic seriously. As the pandemic went on, she began to question her major and future career. When asked about what she has learned through the pandemic, Edwards responded, “As a public health major, the pandemic has made me question a lot. Obviously, I love public health, and it’s something I’m passionate about, but when other people don’t take this pandemic seriously, it really makes me question what I want to do. I don’t know if my actions and my career will even be effective because people aren’t taking scientists seriously and listening to the facts.”

Kelly Angus

Around a year ago, when the country went into lockdown, Kelly Angus was in complete disbelief; this disbelief led her to believe that the virus could be “less serious than it actually is.” However, at SLU, Angus says it is easier to protect herself from the virus because everyone seems to be taking all of the necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing. In her hometown, people are not vigilant about COVID-19 precautions, so SLU feels very comfortable in comparison. Angus describes the pandemic as a time of extreme personal growth. The whole experience has given her time to stop and critically think about global issues, such as systemic racism. “Going through a major event like a pandemic shifts your perspective on life,” she says; “I think it made me more grateful for things, and also gave me time to acknowledge things that need to be changed in the world.” When asked about what the pandemic has taught her, she responded, It has taught me that I need to take my mental health more seriously. I feel like the pandemic can really exacerbate mental health issues. I’ve learned to prioritize self-care, especially taking care of my mental health.”

Carter Inion

Compared to his hometown, Carter Inion’s experience at SLU has been a lot easier during the pandemic. Inion describes typical pandemic life at home as “plans getting canceled, and friends back in their homes.” When asked about what the pandemic has taught him, Inion says that the situation hasn’t really changed much for him as a radiation therapy major: “Honestly, it hasn’t really taught me much. Given my major, I’m super mindful of where I go, and I try to avoid big crowds as much as possible. I’m always cautious of where I go, so it hasn’t taught me much.”

Lily Jiang

When the pandemic hit, Lily Jiang was in shock, but it only took about a week for the seriousness of the situation to sink in, and she put all of her efforts into being safe. Jiang is a freshman commuter student and comes to campus only for labs. As a freshman, she has been working on meeting new people, but since she has been at home for such a long time with little human interaction, she has been nervous about having the social skills to thrive this year. Despite this, she’s grateful for in-person labs and describes it as the “highlight of her week.” Jiang treats the pandemic as if the country were still in lockdown, and says that life has “not changed much” for her since lockdown around a year ago. During this extra time at home, she has been pursuing new hobbies and interests. For example, talking to friends online has allowed her to get to know people even better. When asked about what the pandemic has taught her, she says, “I think this pandemic has taught me two main things. The first is that I realized how much I was lacking in self-love and self-care. I think before this pandemic I was always occupied with various things; I just got out of high school, and I always had something going on since I was at school seven hours a day and was constantly having social interaction. I almost relied on this to make me feel content, and I was definitely neglecting being happy with who I am. It’s definitely still a work in progress, but I think the pandemic has taught me to focus more on that. The second thing is that I’ve had a lot of time to reflect by journaling and having really deep conversations with people I’m close to. Through that, I’ve learned a lot about my passions and my goals, and the things that fulfill me in life. In general, it’s taught me that I need to slow down in life and focus on these things instead of being immersed in distractions all the time.”

Antonio Donohue

When Antonio Donohue first heard about the COVID-19 lockdown, he was on a spring break trip with the wilderness adventure club. On this trip, there was no cell service. He had to quickly piece everything together with the limited information he had. When he finally got cell service, he was able to see the email from SLU that everything was getting shut down. He describes the whole experience as “very confusing.” For Donohue, life at SLU is very different from life at home. Donohue had just moved to a new state and felt as if he “didn’t have a support system in place.” However, at SLU, Donohue is surrounded by people he cares about and has a great support system, which has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Even so, the pandemic college experience still comes with its challenges, and he describes the college experience right now as “manageable.” When asked what the pandemic has taught him, he says, “It has taught me how much I need those in-person interactions with people; that hit me really really hard. Going all online and having my classes online, I didn’t get that in-person interaction as much I used to. I definitely had to find a way to take care of my mental health.”

Grace Mohr

“I would say just how social I am; I’ve always been very introverted, but this pandemic has made me realize how much I actually do need to interact with people face-to-face.”

Vishnu Rangachari

For Vishnu Rangachari, the pandemic has been an anxiety inducing experience. “There’s just so much uncertainty,” he says. However, after the recent vaccination rollout and COVID-19 precautions at SLU, Rangachari felt comfortable enough to do classes in person for the spring semester. Rangachari says that “It’s made me feel a lot more comfortable to see how everyone at SLU is managing COVID-19 well.” When asked what the pandemic has taught him, Rangachari responded, “I’d say it definitely has taught me that I value face-to-face interaction a lot more than I thought I did. Then the other thing is, as people we generally know how to adapt to situations well. Even if it extends past a certain amount of time, we can adjust, even if it’s drastically different than life usually is.”