Amidst the uncertainties of the COVID-19 season, I have found solace in healing quarantine activities, and most importantly, connecting with my Vassar friends through video call.
It’s crazy how everything changed in the span of a couple of weeks in March. I still remember when midterm papers were my biggest concern in the first week of March, and how I hugged my friends goodbye saying “see you in two weeks!” Then all of a sudden in the second week, I was canceling my travel plans while Vassar decided to go online. I’ll be staying on campus, I had thought, hopefully, the situation will improve. Little did I know how much this was going to change. Within a week, I was making plans to return to Hong Kong amidst the escalation of the pandemic. And so the last week of March was spent social distancing, getting used to online classes in an empty campus, and traveling home.
In the first two weeks I returned home, I was quarantined in my room under Hong Kong law. I binge-watched TV shows, played music, and started a new workout routine amidst other things. I was glad to be home during this public health crisis, and I appreciated having time for myself to engage in healing activities, but very quickly, as I started attending my daily 10:30 pm Zoom class and the rest of my readings crept up on me, I realized that I miss Vassar.
I miss the feeling of accomplishment I get when I successfully grab a booth at the Deece during dinnertime, I miss seeing familiar faces at every corner of campus, and I miss being able to take a walk by Sunset Lake alone. While online classes have kept us occupied with a sense of structure, for the first time in a long while, my priority is no longer schoolwork. The routine I hope for has not been reconstructed by what college normally stands for, instead, I have found myself thinking about the small things that make up daily life on campus.
To make up for the void in my heart, I put up posters of the Vassar quad and Rocky from my admissions package, as well as pictures of my Vassar friends and I on my wall to imagine that I am still on campus. As I rewatch online lectures, and even while I’m writing this blog post at the moment, my wall decoration is a reminder of all the bits and pieces that made up my freshman year – it’s a sense of reassurance that everything is going to be fine soon.
Staying in touch with my Vassar friends has really grounded me in the past month and a half. It has been very comforting to connect with each other through regular videocalls, catching up with everyone’s lives, and simply being able to see and hear them. Though all of our lives have changed greatly within weeks, I’m glad to learn that everyone has been coping fairly well. Video calling my friends has been a source of encouragement and normalcy for me – it’s as if we’re chatting again once class is over and checking-in on one another, while at the same time acknowledging the gravity of the situation we’re in and keeping each other and the world in our thoughts and prayers.
Being fortunate enough to have arrived home safely and connect with my peers, I cannot imagine how it is like for people in other parts of the world where this sense of security cannot be found amidst the global pandemic. COVID-19 has restructured my perspective on the normalcy of daily life I have taken for granted, and it has served as a reminder that there are just so many plans one can make before you’re swept away by uncontrollable circumstances. Nowadays, knowing that my family and friends are doing well is enough for me. I wish for everyone to put their mental health first in this stressful time, and I look forward to the gradual healing of our souls, our relationships, and our world.
Janus Wong, Class of 2023