April 4, 2020
Did you change your spring break plans because of the virus? From what to what?
Sadly, my spring break plans did change due to the virus. Originally my boyfriend and I were going to travel to Big Bend and go on a hiking trip making some stops along the way. However, that did not happen. Instead we came and stayed at his mother’s house in Tyler, Texas for the first part of the week. I am from Santa Fe, New Mexico, so when they told us to go home and stay home, that was not possible for me. Halfway through the week of spring break the student body received an email from the university stating that the remainder of the semester would be held online and informing seniors that commencement would be cancelled. Also, in this email we were informed that we had to move out of our on-campus apartments by the first week of April. All of this news was devastating and was not the spring break I originally hoped for. I then spent the rest of my spring break planning my move out, getting my parents to Texas, moving out, and trying to stay calm. During this time, I also started a petition that asked the university to consider rescheduling commencement and other graduation ceremonies when the world was healthy again. As of early last week, Dr. Andrew Prall the St. Edward’s University Provost, announced in a video message that there would be a commencement at a later date. He promised that when the world was healthy again, they would notify students of the rescheduling of events. The petition I started was successful and got well over 400 signatures and comments. That is one good thing Spring break brought this year.
How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?
I was upset at the news and was worried about how the rest of the semester would play out. I thrive when surrounded by likeminded people. I also dislike virtual connection, so I was worried. Also a lot of my classes don’t easily transition to online learning. I am a social work major and a lot of our classes are hands-on and experiential. Studying social work also requires students to participate in 430 hours of a field internship and that experience was quickly taken away by covid-19. I understand why all of the social distancing had to happen, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Starting classes online has been difficult, as I am confined to one space to work. It makes focusing harder and overall is less enjoyable. I miss seeing my friends and walking to classes. Simple things like walking to class, stopping at jo’s for an Arnold Palmer, seeing friends all across campus are the things I miss the most. I never truly got to say goodbye to anyone, no one really did. This sequence of events all happened so fast; it is still hard to process. I never thought I would miss sitting through classes the way I am now. This is a hard adjustment, but I know we will get through it, I just hope that is soon.
Where will you be living while courses are held online? Is this a change from usual?
I will be staying in Texas for the remainder of the semester. I am currently living in Tyler Texas with my boyfriend and his family until May. This is a change from usual, because I would have been in Austin. I decided not to go home, because I don’t believe I would have been able to be as successful being so far away, and given the time change, staying motivated and classes would have been difficult. I also wanted to be around someone going through a similar situation as me to feel a little bit more understood.
What has been your experience with moving classes online? What’s good? What’s not so good?
I like in person human interaction, so I do not like the change. I like having places to be and people to see, so the online zoom classes have been tough. It is still good to see and hear other people’s voices, but it is not the same. It also seems like in an effort to make classes equivalent to in person classes, professors are assigning more work. Some of my classes have now become more work that I was doing before, and that is not helpful during this already stressful time.
How has the virus (and the precautions taken to prevent it spreading) impacted your daily life?
As a social work student I have not been able to partake in my normal in person field internship. That has been rough for me as well as for my clients. I work with girls ages 3rd-12th grade at the Girls Empowerment Network and I lead what are called Girl Connect groups. In these groups I teach young girls coping skills, self-efficacy, critical thinking and many other valuable skills young girls are in need of these days. I was unable to end groups properly with these girls as none of us knew that this would be what would come of the covid-19 situation. In relation to mental health and emotional health, the stress from this pandemic has caused me a lot of added stress in my last year of undergrad. However, given the implementation of social distancing I have become more aware and intentional with the way I spend my time. I have also been able to practice gratitude in ways it would seem I was too busy before. Although my life has taken a complete 360 turn, I am still trying to find the good in everything.
How worried are you about getting the virus?
I am worried, but I can’t let that affect me too much or I would be unable to focus on everyday tasks. I am more worried about the vulnerable people in my life getting the virus. I am scared that if that were to happen, that they would be alone in the situation, and that more than anything scares me.
Do you know anyone who has gotten COVID-19?
Are you staying in? What are you doing to pass the time?
Yes, I am staying in, except for having to travel back and forth to move out from my on-campus apartment in Austin. It was hard having to travel so much to move myself out as well as my boyfriend. We had to make two separate weekend trips to Austin to make the moves. It seems almost counterproductive that the university asked us to leave for spring break and not return to campus for what was at the time a two-week break. Only for them to ask us to venture back to campus to collect our belongings. I understand the decision may have been out of their control, but it would have been nice to social distance on campus and still remain living on campus. I am currently painting, writing, going on walks and cooking to pass the time. I believe this is a time to prioritize self-care, so that is what I am aiming to do. I have also tried to maintain staying in touch with family. We are thankful enough to live in a time where facetime is available. I love being able to call friends and family to have that support during this time.
What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?
My family and friends, as well as my boyfriend and his family have all been giving me hope and strength during this time. The people who have recovered from this virus are also giving me hope that if people listen to the medical professionals and stay home that this will all be over sooner.
Scenes from around Austin: