Reflections on The COVID-19 Pandemic

A picture of an iPhone screen displaying the COVID-19 Symptom trackerWritten by: Various Western Students 

Photo by Cory Checketts on Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all differently; for some, it meant canceling summer plans, not being able to return home, missing convocation, struggling with online learning, engaging with new hobbies, and so much more. It certainly hasn't been easy, but we have to remain strong and follow health protocols in order to protect ourselves, our community, and our future. For students, this pandemic has been especially difficult as they start a new school year with online classes, and as the desire to socialize and re-connect with friends becomes ever-present. Read on to hear how Western students are coping with the pandemic, and why it's important to them that we follow health protocols like social and physical distancing, limiting your social circle, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often.  

Stay tuned to Thrive Online, and Student Experience social media channels, for more student reflections and advice on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life, and why should Western students care about the impact, and consequences, of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

“Being an international student in Canada during a pandemic was something I never thought I would have to experience. All the plans I had to go back home for the summer were gradually gone as covid-19 cases increased all around the world. My family back home started suffering not only economical loss, but also family loss. 

Although things started to look better here in Canada, in my country things seemed to just get worse. It was obviously hard to cope with everything going on, but I had to fix my perspective. I had to decide through what new lens I wanted to see and live life. I started being conscious about the little control we have over life. I became more aware that things in life can change in a matter of seconds. We cannot take anything for granted. I had to learn that change, not matter how it occurs, is good, because it opens the path for growth in so many ways.

Now, that things seem to be “better,” is time when us Western students have to be more aware of the impact our small actions have on us and others around us. Don’t allow short term pleasures to take away the privilege of enjoying long term ones from you and others. Let’s try and consider how in these times we can build and strengthen each other with our actions. This pandemic hasn’t been the easiest, nonetheless, I believe that hard times are an opportunity to be intentional in finding ways to support each other and building a better world around us."

- Mariela Magana, 2nd Year Linguistics 

Why should Western students care about the impact, and consequences, of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic?  

“Now that summer has ended, students are returning to London and the Western community for the start of the semester. Already, many students are choosing to not wear masks and not practice social distancing. It’s easy to forget why wearing masks and social distancing is essential when you are not considered at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. But our actions have a bigger effect than we realize. 

You may not know it but, students you share campus with may be immunocompromised or have chronic medical conditions that put them at a higher risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. The Western community is also not just limited to students, there are professors, researchers, and other university employees that are placed at risk when we ignore the safety precautions. An infection may be mild to you, but it could be deadly to someone else. 

At Western, we are part of the bigger London community and it’s important to remember that by ignoring the necessary precautions, we put the whole community at risk. Chances are that you are visiting grocery stores, restaurants, and shops outside of campus which means if you have the virus, everyone who visits these places are at risk too. Avoiding parties and other large gatherings is not just about keeping ourselves safe. It’s about keeping everyone around us in shops, restaurants and busses safe. 

We may think, as students, that we won’t get infected or that it wouldn’t matter because we won’t become very ill. You may think that attending a party or not wearing a mask isn’t really hurting anyone, but the truth is, it is hurting people. It can hurt other students, professors, friends, and members of the London community.” 

- Rowan El Mograhbi, 3rd Year Software Engineering 

Why is it important to you that you practise physical and social distancing, wear a mask, and follow health protocols? 

“I have many good reasons to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and follow public health protocols. Some of them are a little self-centred: for example, I don’t want to contract COVID-19 because the long-term health effects are unclear, and infection may lead to permanent lung damage. Also, the more that we all follow public health protocols, the sooner I can see my friends in person, walk indoors without a mask on, and touch my face whenever I feel like it. Rather than sitting through hours of boring, dry recorded lectures each week, I could finally sit through slightly less boring in-person lectures instead. I would no longer need to awkwardly back-track at the grocery store because I accidentally walked down the aisle the wrong way, or skipped the line to the till. It means I don’t need to squint my eyes to show that I’m smiling through my mask, and instead I can actually just smile. 

But, most importantly, it’s my responsibility as a member of the Western and London community. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy; many small businesses depend on a fast recovery. That means every family employed by these businesses depends on one as well. That’s not to mention the very real risk the virus poses to older and immunocompromised populations. I worry constantly for my parents, grandparents, teachers, and professors. I even think of my sister, who’s high school cohort is separated from her friends, and just wishes for a normal high school experience again. To prioritize social events and personal comfort over my community would be selfish and shortsighted; I have to do my part for the people I care about.” 

- Johann Cardenas, 2nd Year Bioinformatics 

Share a bit about your “new normal” routine. How has your life changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

“My daily routine changed substantially when the COVID-19 pandemic began. I would consider myself to be a fairly extroverted person, someone who thrives off of the energy of those around them. Before the pandemic hit, I was used to seeing my friends on a daily basis, and I relied on these daily interactions to help maintain my mental well-being.

Suddenly transitioning to what felt like a more secluded way of living when the pandemic hit was difficult at first. Naturally, I resorted to hours of lying in bed, Netflix-binging, and frequent napping – but it just wasn’t the same. Admittedly, I had a pretty pessimistic outlook on the whole ‘quarantining’ ordeal at first; like many, I had a fun summer planned and was disappointed that it wasn’t happening anymore. It wasn’t until I adopted a more optimistic outlook that I realized that I didn’t have to feel secluded in quarantine at all; there were other socially distanced, fun ways I could still interact with my friends.

My “new normal” routine now consists of keeping in touch with friends through Facebook Messenger Calls, where we play Jackbox, Codenames, or simply just rant to each other about what’s going on in our lives. Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has also allowed me to enjoy more quality time with my family, and has given us an excuse to try new recipes that we’ve been wanting to try for years.

As I leave home and return to London for the new school year, I’m grateful for the unique opportunity the pandemic has given me to appreciate my friends and family more (and for the matcha cheesecake bar recipe I was able to perfect!). I’m excited to move forward with a positive mindset, ready to tackle whatever this new school year throws at me.”

- Fiona Lee, 4th Year Medical Sciences


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