The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Year in Review
While the world may not have known it at the time, it is now certainly clear that COVID-19 has been around for well over a year. The first cases appeared in Wuhan, China in early January 2020, and slowly spread across the world over the course of the following months.
The past year has been a rollercoaster of lockdowns, policy change and fear. That fear stemmed from a general lack of knowledge about the disease and the loneliness that came with lockdown. Being ripped from life as we knew it and locked behind doors and screens was jarring, foreign and scary, but most of all it was lonely.
The stats as we now know them tell us that there have been 122 million cases of COVID-19 since January of 2020. While many of those cases ultimately resulted in recoveries, the world has witnessed the deaths of 2.69 million people due to the virus. The United States alone has seen over 500,000 deaths, and those numbers climb daily.
On top of the many health concerns, 15% of American adults report having lost their jobs due to the outbreak, and half of those people still remain unemployed. 53% of adults report the pandemic having negative effects on their mental health.
For college students, especially the ones at Boston University, the past year has been anything but what was expected. Students who were abroad in the spring were removed from their programs and sent home to have their “abroad” experiences from their beds. Students who were abroad in the fall came home to their friends, only to be sent away from school again. Other students never got the opportunity to go abroad, and some students are still waiting to find out if they ever will.
College students went from traveling the world, walking around campus with friends and being independent adults, to living in the childhood bedrooms that they thought they’d never have to go back to in a matter of days. Everything we expected, all of the plans we made for ourselves, went from promising to hopeless.
Athletes lost valuable time on the field. Students lost valuable time in the classroom. The ability to connect with others in-person as opposed to through screens has become a luxury. Life as we knew it and hoped it to be is no longer a possibility.
Students are angry and sad. Something feels like it was taken from them, but it is hard to know exactly what. Was it their futures? As athletes? As valedictorians? Members of clubs? Workers? Internship holders? Or was it something else?
It has been so easy to feel angry and upset about what this year has done. But those feelings are unsustainable. Our priorities have changed, along with our goals and aspirations.
Before lockdown, the simple benefits of a walk outside in the fresh air often went unnoticed. Many people got to spend time with their families that they never would have if the pandemic had not forced everyone back home. We learned how to bake, play instruments and do yoga. We learned how important hugs are.
The pandemic has touched everyone’s lives. It is one thing that the entire world has in common, that the entire world has suffered through together. It has taken so much from so many people.
A year later, we see a glimmer of light at the end of this long, long tunnel. A year ago, the journey from the living room to the kitchen was the longest walk of the day. As time has gone on, our journeys have gotten longer, our hugs less few and far between, and our screens less of a necessity to daily life.
It is high time we start looking forward instead of looking back. Our futures are waiting for us.