Over the past five months, all our lives have drastically changed thanks to COVID-19. Suddenly, classes were moved online for the rest of the 2020 spring semester, and it’s uncertain when life will go back to how it was before as we have all begun to accept this “new normal.” As we return to UM’s beautiful campus this fall, we can only hope all goes forward from here as UM students, staff and health professionals work together to keep our school and ourselves safe.
Although our summer plans were limited due to the pandemic, I talked to a handful of UM students who took up this extra free time to sharpen some handy skills. To start off, I made the most of this time through cleaning up my resume and LinkedIn and Handshake profiles. I also applied to various internships and attended virtual workshops. I usually never have the time to enhance my personal brand, but during quarantine there were no excuses, and it became more important than ever to remain focused on our goals.
Christopher Salomon, a senior at UM majoring in creative advertising, remarks that he used this time to hone in his artistic skills, including design and photography: “My hobbies have turned into what I learned from classes, and I wanted to make something out of them.” Salomon also said he downloaded coloring book apps to help pass the hours and ease his anxiety.
Mental health has been another massive recurring topic throughout this pandemic. With casual everyday activities and routines stripped away from us, our sanity has taken a toll. Many UM students have taken care of themselves mentally during such trying times through lots of inventive outlets.
At the beginning of quarantine, my mental health was not severely impacted because it almost felt like the universe was giving us a breather. It presented an opportunity to step back from our chaotic lives and absorb the present moment. However, once quarantine lasted longer than expected, my mind started to plummet. I took on a plethora of activities to sustain my well-being, but the ones that worked best for me were simple: going for a walk outside to take in some fresh air, tapping into my creative side through photography, meditating before going to bed and building a daily routine for myself. All of these tasks helped me keep my cool and be focused, calm and happy during an era of great unknown.
Salomon expressed to me that his mental health has honestly been exceptional: “For the longest time, I’ve always had this cycle of class, work, study, sleep. Never really got to do anything I wanted and now I did everything, in spite of what is happening.” Plenty more students provided me with thrilling responses as to what they’ve been doing to help mentally sooth — painting, taking long walks, yoga, exercising, online shopping, podcast sprees and more.
As we return to hybrid learning this fall semester, make sure to stay updated on all the university policies and rules by checking your email regularly! And remember to be strong fellow ‘Canes, for this strange time too shall pass.
words_camila munera illustration_abby pak