The pandemic was an abrupt comet that instantaneously altered all of our lives, some for better and some for worse. I can say for sure that I was somewhat excited to spend my days at home and attend classes online, since I spent most of my days indoors anyways. It wouldn't be such a drastic change. However, that feeling of optimism was short lived as people dropped like flies everywhere and the idea that this was to be my existence for an indefinite period of time was dreadful. It wasn't so much as feeling imprisoned in your own home, but more like being stripped of a lot of the choices we freely enjoyed prior to the pandemic. My life for the past year can be summarized by a few cyclical basic and monotonous actions, revolving week after week ; Sleep, Class, Eat and watch Television. Occasionally, the government would announce a lift to the lockdown but many inconsiderate people would not follow the safety guidelines and undermine the severity of COVID-19. I recall one week where the cases in the city of Famagusta rose from 2 to 80, all for the futile cause of going to the clubs and socializing. Eventually, the idea of freedom became a silly fantasy that no longer interested me and I had become set in my daily routine.
The pandemic has made me more socially anxious as I eventually found myself alone when all my friends returned home; however, the silver lining is that I found love like no other. I was quarantined with my boyfriend, and it only drew us closer, to the point of inseparability, and I have absolutely no idea how we aren't sick of each other. Meanwhile, back in my home country, Uganda, there were riots, rigged elections, and I was extremely scared for my family as the police was literally shooting people dead on the streets. During this period, our president Museveni, shut down the entire nation’s internet and I was unable to contact my family for weeks. Not knowing if your family is safe is the worst feeling as the pessimism and feeling of negligence slowly consume you. I wondered if all of us being connected online was actually disconnecting us in reality, and it's so disheartening that I haven't spoken to my dad for almost a month and couldn't even call him for his birthday.
The pandemic has tested our relationships with our families and friends, either strengthening and solidifying them or tearing them apart for perhaps they weren't meant to be. It forces us to fight for what is truly important to us and lose the deadweight because one thing this pandemic has given all of us is ‘Time’. This time certainly didn't go to waste as it gave me the opportunity to slow down in a way that I may reflect and reevaluate my situation and plans for life. I have learnt new skills such as stock trading as well as affiliate marketing. It has also fostered my creative side as I have more time available to work on my art and writing.In a sense, we are forced to really appreciate ourselves and define our identities, without external interferences, which is important for one’s mental health. As students, we gradually realize life isn't as black and white as we deemed it to be. None of us anticipated living through a global pandemic, but here we are. We all struggle with our sense of self amidst this chaotic world plagued by COVID , however we should all use this time to reflect, appreciate, and cultivate our relationships, identities, and futures. Let us keep hoping and fighting together!
— Mary-Joy Ramya Nsherura, 21
Famagusta, Turkish Republic of North Cyprus