Morgane Evans: The week before
Last March, when my friends and I went to the Risley Gala (the annual end-of-year event for Risley Hall residents), we didn’t know Dalhousie University would stop in-person classes days later. We didn’t know the next time we’d see each other we’d be smiling in relief that Nova Scotia had so few cases of COVID-19.
A week after getting ready together that night, the world changed. My friend was wearing a short black dress, and I was in a teal floor-length dress I bought on sale at H&M when I was at home during February break. It’s strange to think I didn’t have to quarantine then.
When we got to the Lord Nelson hotel, and ate and danced, we didn’t know we wouldn’t be able to go out for the rest of the year. We were so free then as we chatted with people who we barely knew without masks on and without social distancing. Now, the idea of a room full of 100 people makes me anxious.
My friends and I didn’t know when we got our photos taken at the photo booth, we wouldn’t have any pictures with each other again until mid-September. I wish I could go back to that very moment and take as many pictures as I could to remember everything while I was in lockdown.
If we did know, I think it would have been different. I probably would have worn another dress that fit me exactly right and would’ve had my makeup done somewhere instead of doing it myself. Maybe my friend and I would have brought our other friends as our dates so we could all be there together. It was truly our last week of freedom, and if we had known, we would have done everything we could to savour every second of it.
I miss that night.
Alex Affonso: Raising my (e)hand
One year ago, I loved participating in class discussions.
I remember how thrilling it was to devour page after page of course readings alone in my dorm room, coming up with thoughts to share in class. The readings themselves could be monotonous and somewhat tedious, but the ideas brewing in my mind lit a fire in my heart. I walked to class holding a Tim’s cup in my hand and countless comments in my head. Then, whenever I raised my hand — or simply considered doing it — my heart accelerated with excitement. There’s something magical about academic discussions, this coalition of beautiful brains. I was glad to be a part of it.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic started.
In the early days of online classes, it was terrifying to stare at the hand emoji on Zoom, hovering my cursor over it and biting my lip. It’s not that I didn’t have ideas brewing in my brain. I just lacked the fire in my heart. The comments were in my head, but I was unable to raise my e-hand. Whenever I considered doing it, my heart accelerated with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. There’s something strange about online discussions, this disconnected connection of beautiful brains. I was afraid to be a part of it.
But it’s gotten better. I do like participating in online class discussions now, even if they’ll never be the same as speaking in-person.
Mandy King: New goals, new beginnings
I cringe as another ad for Dalhousie University appears on my Facebook timeline. A blatant reminder of past failures. I first attended Dal in my early 20s, but left when I became pregnant with my son. Six years later, I keep telling myself, “I’ll finish one day.” But one day never comes.
Despite the tinge of shame flushing my cheeks, I click the ad. What harm can it do to look? I attempt to enter my login information and on my second try it works. I’m in! A rush of familiarity fills my screen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced courses online. This will impact many students negatively, but for me, it means I could potentially attend the university full-time despite having two children at home. Hope fills my chest as I stare at the blinking cursor waiting for me to type my letter for readmission.
Through Zoom meetings, Collaborate Ultra chats, Instagram study groups and more digitized reading than I’ve ever taken on, I have made it to the end of a school year.
The pandemic has created many obstacles, fueled fear and restructured the world we live in. Despite all the bad, I can’t help but focus on this one good point. I am here, and I will reach my goal if I keep trying.