Lessons learned being a college freshman during the pandemic:

  1. Blessings are found in even the darkest of times. Since coming to college it feels like everything I have been excited for or looked forward to has been taken away. I can’t have guests in my room or friends from other residence halls enter my building. Every time I want to eat a meal, I have to reserve my spot before they fill up.

    This was the line for the dining hall waiting for them to open for the 12:00 reservation. Once they finished cleaning for the last 15 min of the hour, they let students in and scanned their reservation details and let them eat. The dining hall was only be open for 45 min reservation slots so they had time to clean between groups of students.

    All my classes moved to online so I stayed in my room for 6+ hours on my computer. All of these changes just intensify the feeling of isolation and loneliness for not only me, but the majority of people. Through all of these negatives, however, many times we gloss over the positives that have come from this virus. For me, because of the pandemic I was able to meet my best friends who were complete strangers to me just 2 months ago but now I spend everyday with them. With all the restrictions put into place I have been able to grow closer to these friends and I consider them my family here. Because of my online classes I am able to go outside on a nice day and enjoy nature while in a lecture. Because I have to make reservations to go eat, I plan out when I eat and go out with my friends for my meals. Don’t get me wrong, everything still sucks because of the virus, but I wouldn’t change all of the good that I have gotten out of it. When it seems like everything is pushing against us, that’s when its important to take every moment as it comes and look for the blessings.

    Above is my group of friends who have become like family to me. We took a weekend trip to Max Patch one day to get out of the college campus life and just enjoy each other’s company and the beauty of nature.

  2. Plans change and that’s okay. I have to tell myself this all the time and it’s still hard to grasp but it’s especially important now. For me, I am a hardcore planner for everything and I always want to have structure to what I am doing but I’ve had to change all of this because of the pandemic. It’s hard to not plan everything around expectations but it’s harder when those expectations don’t work out time after time. Over the past 2 months being a college student I have shifted to not planning my life around expectations and taking everyday as it comes. Coming here to UTK all I had were high expectations but those quickly changed to disappointing changes and it was exhausting always being sad about those. Some days are good and some are just plain bad but without expectations I set for myself then I am not as disappointed when something doesn’t work out and this has been the hardest for me to learn. Change is hard but being able to go with the flow has made all the changes bearable.
  3. Life will go on. The pandemic will be over. All the time I find myself wondering when the pandemic will be over and when I can have a normal college experience but then I stop myself. If I was always wishing for things to be over then I can never really enjoy the time in between.

    My friends and I participate in different events the university puts on through the Vol Life app. We have done yoga, succulent planting, t-shirt pickup, and many more.

    Everyday I try to cherish the little moments before they pass. One day the pandemic will be over, but so will all the moments that came with it. The advice I give myself is: enjoy this time because everything is simple. Life will get busy and full again and you’ll wish you could go back to the simple times so cherish today, tomorrow, and all the days after that because everything could change in an instant.

    Audrey Blackburn
    Spanish Major