by Michael Collura
“… these are confusing times. I was hoping to hit the ground running after this semester, but my game plan has been turned upside down.”
It is currently 9 o’clock on Friday night, May 15th, 2020. I am a student at the University of Delaware, majoring in biology with a minor in French, and I can proudly say that I am soon to be a graduating senior. Unfortunately, that makes this Friday one of my very last here in Newark — a couple more weekends, a few exams, and then on to the next chapter. Four amazing years flew by in a blindingly quick fashion, and the reality that it is over has yet to hit me.
Right around this time each year, seniors celebrate the culmination of this four-year roller coaster we call college. From what I have seen of previous graduating classes, these last few months are meant to be filled with laughter and memories. One last glorious hoorah with our friends before we enter the ever ominous real world.
So, how does a senior spend one of his last weekends in college, you might ask? Surely doing something exhilarating, right? Well, thanks to a little thing called the coronavirus, not really. I spent my Friday alone on the couch, reduced to binge-watching reality TV shows on Hulu. No music was playing, no friends were dancing, and no plans were made. There were no final hoorahs and no spring break trips; going to class now means staring at my friends through a laptop for hours each day. The last, and supposedly best, semester of the college experience was stripped away from seniors across the nation in an instant.
I apologize if I seem to be wallowing in self-pity — I’m really not. I just feel that I speak for seniors as a whole when I say the wind has been taken from our sails. Although I feel a bit cheated by fate, I know very well that this situation is much bigger than I. Many people are suffering greatly from this pandemic, and I’m lucky enough that my friends and family are healthy. Things could certainly be worse.
That said, the reality of the coronavirus pandemic seems nothing short of absurd to me. Look at it objectively. Through some sort of comically improbable snowball effect, a sick bat 8,000 miles away has somehow stolen half of my senior year from me. More importantly, it has rocked the entire world to its core. When my biology professor predicted in early February that there would be a massive outbreak and quarantine here in the states, I brushed her off. Now with over four million cases and 300,000 deaths worldwide, there is no denying the gravity of the situation. The economy is in shambles, millions are sick, people are out of work, and this disease is far from finished. Considering the magnitude of this whole scenario, I dare say we are living in a chapter from the history books of the future.
Personally, as a graduating senior in search of a job, these are confusing times. I was hoping to hit the ground running after this semester, but my game plan has been turned upside down. I had become a certified New York State emergency medical technician (EMT) over the winter, and I was looking forward to getting out there as a first responder. It would have let me make some money doing something I enjoyed while I searched for a more permanent job suited to my interests in biology. This sounded great, but the coronavirus had other plans. New York City — my home — currently has the most coronavirus infections worldwide. Being an EMT, I would be interacting with countless people in the most infected city in the world. This would be foolish and would only put myself and my family at risk, so I had to put a hold on the EMT plan. Although circumstances are far from ideal, there is nothing I can do except stay positive and keep pushing forward.
On a brighter note, I have used my extra free time during quarantine to focus more on my biology classes, and I may have found an interest in laboratory research because of it. It is a small step, but a step in the right direction none the less. With chin held high, the job search continues, and I wait to see what the future holds.
As far as how I’ve kept busy outside of school, I have taken on some new hobbies. I have been reading philosophy books, I have taken up cooking, and most of all, I am more devoted to my fitness than ever before. Almost every day I do some combination of running, biking, lifting, and playing soccer. If I could suggest two bits of advice in these stressful times, it would be to find a hobby and to exercise. It is a lot easier to keep touch with your sanity when you are not cooped up and sitting still all day. I seem to have turned into a proper Energizer Bunny recently, so perhaps there was an upside to this quarantine after all.
This quarantine is only as bad as we tell ourselves it is, so staying active and positive is what will get us all through this. I have no idea what the future holds in store, nor do I know when quarantine will be ending. Regardless, I intend to keep myself busy and to stay optimistic, and I hope everyone out there does too. Stay safe, stay strong, and wash your hands!
From Brooklyn, New York, Michael Collura is 21 years old and a 2020 graduate of the University of Delaware.