Apr 1st, 2020, 04:22 AM

Students Face Corona's Collateral Damage

By Chloe Gavalas
Sheltering in place. Image Credit: Unsplash
COVID-19 has engulfed our lives and forced us into situations that we have never experienced before.

As the world entered the new decade, we promised to make this year one for the books. And it certainly has been — just not in the way we expected. Only three months into the new year, the viral COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus, has spread across the globe and taken the lives of thousands. Businesses and schools have been shut down to promote “social distancing,” and people have been sent into panic and distress. 

As if it is not stressful enough for most AUP students to live between two countries, this pandemic has only added further strain on their lives as well as their schoolwork. President Trump announced his decision to implement a new travel band on March 13, which triggered many of my American classmates and me to begin frantically planning our retreat back to our homeland. After numerous pressing calls to my parents at 3:00 a.m. Paris time, I had booked my flight home for the next day and began to strategize how I was supposed to pack up my apartment and inform my school that I was leaving the country in a matter of hours. This stress was escalated by the reality that I had a microeconomics midterm at 9:00 a.m. that same morning.

In a matter of 48 hours, most of AUP's students were on their way home, classes had been switched over to remote learning and France had entered Stage 3 of its response plan. “Getting home was integral for me, as the Paris borders would soon be on lockdown,” commented freshman Ryan Lambright. No one wanted to be stuck in a foreign country without the company of their loved ones. Many nations including the U.S. and most European countries have been placed under a quarantine state in an attempt to hinder the spread of the virus.

An empty airport in the midst of the pandemic. Image Credit: Unsplash

In place of the way we expected our semesters to end, we are in unknown territory, just trying to navigate a way out. Students have been forced to face the fact that they will not get to have normal proms or graduations this year. My older sister Gabriella was in her last semester of college and my younger brother Artemi, his senior year of high school. After working so hard, they will not get to walk across a stage alongside their peers and accept their diplomas honoring all that they have accomplished. They will not get to participate in their final year events, or get to say goodbye in person to the institutions that have helped to shape their lives. “It was devastating not getting to complete my last season of track before I have to go into the real world,” my older sister relayed to me. In her last semester of college track, she will not be able to run her last race or get to bid farewell to the team that she has come so far with.

We pray to keep the lives of ourselves and others safe during this uncertain time. However, being quarantined in one place for so long does not make things easier. It has not even been two weeks and let me tell you, living in a house with six other people can drive one to insanity (and certainly to drink). Others, like our very own Peacock Plume Editor in Chief Lauren Williams, have been left to quarantine in solitude. “I never thought I would want a roommate until now,” she noted. 

We are trapped in one space with nowhere to escape, and on top of that, we are forced to figure out how to keep up with our studies. “I’ve been very stressed and it feels like I’m living in some sort of simulation where time has slowed. Both of my parents are health professionals so they’re getting the worst of it all, besides those facing the disease first hand, but I absolutely don’t love online courses and don’t feel too motivated,” said Lambright. 

That said, technology has helped us to make the best out of a bad situation, allowing us to remain connected regardless of our living situations. Students from all over the world have taken to their computers in hopes of resuming their required studies. We adapt our current reality by logging on to services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to try and connect with our professors. It did take many students, professors and faculty time to figure out the works of our new online learning system, but we have now gotten used to a semi-normal way of completing our school terms. FaceTime has also allowed us to stay in touch with friends and family in a time of limited contact, and we are able to stay entertained by the wide array of amusing content on social media. 

COVID-19 is a true nightmare, but in the midst of these dark times, it is important to hold onto any shred of positivity we come by. We are coming together and connecting with one another, all the while slowly but surely learning how to handle this devastating global pandemic.