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I remember leaving for spring break in March 2020 all ready to move back into my own dorm room. I had had a “Halfmester” student for a roommate, so I was supposed to have the room to myself when I came back. I had also joined Rat Lab and was so excited to train mine, Lola, for the Rat Olympics. 

The Coronavirus was something that seemed far off. I barely gave it a thought and, if I did, I felt protected in rural Kansas and this felt like a problem for big cities.

And then we got an email from campus adding a week onto our spring break and moving the next couple weeks of classes to remote learning. I don’t think I truly understood how much life would change following that email. 

At first, I was mildly annoyed by the fact that most of my classes had been reduced to pre-recorded videos and Canvas assignments. I kept myself busy by taking up sidewalk chalk art and dyeing my hair purple for the first time. I even bought a ukulele that I haven’t touched in the last few months with my dorm refund money.

That summer didn’t feel all that different on the surface since I was used to being isolated when I wasn’t in school. I grew up ten minutes from the nearest town and didn’t get a driver’s license or car until I graduated high school. Not being able to see anyone was kind of normal.

However, I had grown since I left for college. I wasn’t the same person that I was when I graduated high school in 2019. Leaving the small town and small school that I had grown up in gave me the chance to really think about who I was outside of everyone’s expectations.

It was weird and confusing and more than a little suffocating being stuck back in my hometown. I felt like, after finally being free, I had to slip back into the mold that I was stuck in before. 

What was even weirder was going to therapy on my phone in my childhood bedroom. I had to ask my dad to leave the living room, which was right next to my bedroom, so I could have some privacy. He told me he “couldn’t hear anything,” so I would join the Zoom call from my car.

I watched the world through social media. I read about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Black Lives Matter. I was frustrated by the people who weren’t taking the simple precautions that would end this pandemic, but I felt like a hypocrite sharing posts about any of this because, in all honesty, I would have had a completely different stance just a year prior. I still did my best to speak out, though.

By the time we were able to come back to campus, with masks and social distancing, I chose the earliest move-in time I could get. I wanted out and I wanted to be free again.

It’s weird to think about how much has changed since I got that email on March 12, 2020– and how much hasn’t changed. My problems may be different, but I’m tired. 

I’m tired of worrying about socializing. Tired of worrying about how classes will look without masks. Tired of worrying about the state of the world. And, honestly, it’s hard to see an end to all this when we’re entering year three of a two-week quarantine.

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