By Jessica R., Summer Student
As I am writing this post, I have been working at the Oshawa Museum for almost a month. Unsurprisingly, I have yet to enter the museum. The reason that this is unsurprising pertains to the issue of COVID-19. Its newfound changes have caused me and the rest of the world to continuously adapt to its decisions. Since this blog aids in archiving and documenting local Oshawa history, I believe adding my perspective on how a university student lives within a pandemic could potentially be useful for documenting the experiences for future historians. I won’t be stressing statistical data since that is heavily documented and shared by our government and media.
March 2020 was the last time I entered a school. Since then, I have been attending school virtually. COVID-19’s continuous variation and ability to spread has stopped most in-person experiences and businesses from opening. As someone who enjoys being around others, stopping suddenly and staying home was a learning curve. I’m lucky to say that my quarantine periods were spent quite uneventfully since many experiences by others can vary in levels of stress and negative moments. Finishing high school felt rushed, confusing, and bittersweet, but I still carried optimism for recovery.
Once I finished high school in June 2020, I was on my way to experience all of my first year of university online. The self-teaching moments of self-discipline and independence gave me an overwhelming wave of stress that I, and many other first-year university students, endured in our first semester. Never going on campus while having the difficulty of not participating in clubs, making friends, and maintaining a daily schedule continues to make me feel a detachment from my university after my first year. It took many months for me to learn how to follow a virtual way of studying instead of the 12 years of in-person studying I had been accustomed to. By trying dozens of different methods just to study, I can say that I have achieved a level of stability that kept me afloat during online schooling.
In the second semester, I was feeling my efforts finally being rewarded and had seen my livelihood and marks improve. As the weather started to warm up and vaccinations started to increase, Ontario’s government promised a brighter future by the end of 2021. As the year continues with these changes, as may be expected, I had to continue to keep up with its pace. The tiredness I once felt when I was in lockdown was fading and I began to see opportunities of being productive again. By the end of June 2021, I decided that I was going to find a job again.
I honestly had no expectations of gaining a job with major career experience or one that fit my interests so soon. I give credit to my mom for being able to see a job application for my current position at the Oshawa Museum. If I’m being frank, this was one of the highlights of my whole year. I am an individual greatly swayed by my passions. So, being able to learn and communicate with people who share the same energy and passion encourages me to work hard and aid in exploring my community in depth. The people I had the pleasure of meeting at the Oshawa Museum have already exceeded my expectations and gave me hope for my future. Although I have only met them online, I’m becoming accustomed to the familiarity of seeing them on Zoom (another part of my life that has become somewhat normalized for someone my age). It sounds cheesy but I consider it a landmark for helping me feel capable of achieving the long-term goals I thought were out of reach during COVID-19.
One thing that the pandemic taught me is that stability in daily schedules is not as promised as we wish them to be. Being someone who values stability in my life, specifically in work and in school, COVID-19 completely shifted my perspective on change. I did a lot of self-reflection and endured times of emotional stress and hard times. However, I can also say that it did teach me more about how I view life, while also helping me realize the priorities I value most. Hopefully this post aids in painting the picture of the experiences I had in COVID-19. No two people’s experiences are the same, but collectively as a community, we have grown stronger together. I hope all the stories from our community, from the good to the bad, continue to be documented as we move forward to help us to reminisce and reflect.