The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Pandemic Living: Why I’ll never be the same after COVID

Reflections on living a year in a pandemic

Sophie Gable – Staff Writer

Almost every day I hear someone utter the words, “I can’t wait to get back to normal.” In the first couple months of the pandemic, I thought the same thing almost daily, but now I can’t see how our world will ever go back to a pre-pandemic state. History has shown that when the whole world experiences a tragedy, we adapt to it. We live in a post-September 11 world, a post-AIDS crisis society and have lived through many post-war eras. All of these events have altered our behaviors just like the COVID-19 pandemic has and will. 

There are simple things that have changed me because of the pandemic. I have never been so hyper-aware of the spread of germs and diseases before. Last week, I was feeling sick with a cough and before COVID-19 I could not imagine skipping class for something so small, but now I think, “well what if it’s COVID-19, what if I spread it to someone in my class?” This awareness of how our actions will affect the people around us — even strangers — is something the pandemic taught me that I will carry with me forever. 

On a deeper note, the last year taught me how much effort it takes to maintain relationships. When you’re seeing people every day, it’s easy to keep in touch and show your friends how much you value them, but when months go by and you have not seen them at all, it becomes a challenge. Stepping back and trying to find creative ways to show people how much you value them and waiting to see if they value you in return was a crucial learning curve for me during the pandemic. Although the vaccine is being distributed throughout the nation, the effects of COVID-19 will never leave those who have lived through it.

Priyanka Gera – Managing Editor

This past year was a break that I didn’t realize I needed. Although online learning and unemployment were struggles, I was forced to relax because the pandemic canceled all my extracurricular engagements. Before COVID-19 hit, my life was work-eat-sleep-repeat. Most of the time I didn’t even register the days going by; I was just living from to-do list to to-do list. My life is still just as busy, but now I know when I need to take a step back to recharge. It sounds easier said than done, but I have been making an effort to prioritize my mental wellbeing and dedicate some time to things I enjoy, especially spending time with my family. 

Since lockdown, my family and I have been able to enjoy our meals together. We go on walks around my neighborhood and spend quality time together. My favorite memory is our spontaneous trip to Montauk last July. The morning of, around 11 a.m., we decided to drive two hours to Montauk because “why not?” The weather was absolutely beautiful and at that point, we had run out of things to do. The sad truth is that I have lived on Long Island my entire life and not once have I been to Montauk, so I was genuinely excited when we finally decided to go. We sat in the shade near the water for what seemed like hours. The water splashing against the multicolored stones, the wind rustling through the bushes and the rocks glistening under the warm gaze of the sun were so peaceful and aesthetically-pleasing. We walked around the back of the lighthouse, on the rock wall to the beach on the other side. It was our little adventure of the summer that I’ll never forget. 

Mia Flores – Culture Editor 

The pandemic hit my freshman year of college. While my situation could have arguably been worse (the knowledge that many recent high school graduates wouldn’t step foot on campus for years) the foundation I built felt wasted. I had recently switched my major to English, a decision that lingered in the back of my mind for months, and was fully immersed in all of the classes I took. I had a close-knit network of people I could rely on. These experiences never ceased as I tore through books and kept checking-in with my friends, but the quality of these interactions was noticeably dimmer at the start of the pandemic. 

As I awaited the reopening of my most beloved libraries and cafés, something clicked. Freshman year escaped me like a flash of lighting and I was no longer present to take advantage of becoming involved in school, or so I thought. It became apparent that I could enjoy the hobbies that I once participated in high school, writing my way through isolation. I had never felt the urge to contribute as much as I could to anything until it was taken away from me. 

I’ve found a rhythm in my life that is natural to me now, balancing school with activities that bring me closer to pursuing my dreams after college. Somehow, I’ve managed to meet more people than pre-pandemic college days and find my place from the comfort of my own home. While this sudden change hasn’t been easy, it has certainly led me to opportunities that will impact me for the rest of my life. If I could go back to the night before the University shut down, I would tell myself that the loneliness of the upcoming year would not hold me from my true passions. 

Shaolin Barid – Business Manager

As we tread on past the one year anniversary of the pandemic, it has dawned on me how much has changed in my life since then. Firstly, I feel like I’ve aged a good ten years. For the past year, I was left to my own devices, my own neurotic thoughts about the world and my fear of missing out on opportunities. My biggest takeaway as a dweller of the many glossy months I’ve spent mulling over the lack of ability to do more was that I should’ve learned to be kinder to myself much sooner. I was never really one to shy away from integrating myself into a variety of communities that feed my interests and help me grow. This feat of mine often sabotaged my own mental health and forced me to donate my time and patience to more than what I could usually afford. I was at the end of my tether without even realizing it. 

Isolation put me in a state of panic and granted me an extraordinary bulk of time to think about myself and what I really wanted. My isolated time away from the crowds in New York City allowed for a great summer of self-reflection and sun in upstate New York. We left because we needed space away from our home in The Bronx, where we were surrounded by so many people. It was also great timing, too. The smell of manic and lifeless hysteria was already starting to creep in the streets of the Bronx as my family had endured an endless cycle of unpleasant news and constant worry. Our time shared in the open fields of Buffalo’s parks helped for a good breather. I’ve learned to listen to my needs and practice the art of generosity to my own devotions. To me, self-compassion consisted of indulging in activities that have made me feel at peace and finding comfort within my own fits of existentialism. Interestingly enough, spending time walking alone and doing absolutely nothing else is healing for someone like me, who is constantly working. Being kind to yourself is something I’ll never stop recommending to others. It’s essential and I believe that everyone can benefit from it. 

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About the Contributors
Shaolin Barid
Shaolin Barid, Business Manager Emerita
Shaolin is currently a senior majoring in Biology. She is serving as The Torch’s Business Manager this upcoming year. She has done a lot of things within this role last year that she intends to perfect this upcoming year. From having an organized system of managing advertisements to handling fundraising and merch, Shaolin hopes to celebrate her final year with The Torch with many financial successes. Shaolin is a Virgo who is obsessed with iced coffee and reality TV! You can reach Shaolin at [email protected].
Mia Flores
Mia Flores, Culture Editor
Mia is a junior English major who joined the Torch in her sophomore year. As this year’s Culture Editor, she hopes to encourage other creative writers at St. John’s to showcase the cultural events of their communities with the newspaper. Mia would also like to emphasize the artistic talent of the local Queens community in addition to the latest trending films, music and literary works of the world. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the drum set and reading fantasy series! You can reach Mia at [email protected].
Priyanka Gera
Priyanka Gera, Managing Editor
Priyanka is a senior Spanish and Environmental Science double major on the pre-medical track. She has been a part of the Torch since her freshman year and has held several positions starting as a Staff Writer, then Assistant Culture Editor, Culture Editor and Digital Editor last year. As a part of the 99th E-Board, her goal is to strengthen the Torch’s online presence and grow the newspaper’s staff and contributors. She hopes to continue writing interesting and important stories for the St. John’s community. A Harry Potter fan, Priyanka is a Slytherin and loves the fourth novel in the series, “Goblet of Fire.” You can reach Priyanka at [email protected].
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