By Mia Foster

 As we are constantly inundated with news about imminent climate change, Greenhouse Gas emissions, and waste, it is often easy to feel hopeless in aiding the fight against climate change. While it can feel like we are the victims of the corruption of corporations and government inaction on the climate crisis, we each have the opportunity everyday to reclaim the story and put forward our own efforts towards leading more sustainable lives and lessening our impact on the environment. 

     The purpose of this thread is not to convince you of the reality of climate change. If you do not believe in it, I suggest doing an independent study. Make sure to consume information on the issue from many different sources so you may form your own opinion after getting a comprehensive overview of the science and arguments made by all. Reading the opinions of those you don’t agree with can never harm you! There will be a list of links at the bottom to begin your reading.

     Sustainability Saturdays is a weekly publication that will include small tips on how to make your everyday life more sustainable along with the occasional recommendation of books or studies to read. Who knows, I might even do a weekly challenge every once in a while! By making small changes in your lifestyle, your impact on the environment can significantly decrease over time. To chip away at climate change, we must collectively change our way of living; but collectivism must start with the individual. Join me as I learn new ways to make my life more sustainable! 

Climate Change Information Station:

Climate Change: How Do We Know?

The UN on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

EPA: Climate Action Benefits Report

By the Numbers: How the U.S. Economy Can Benefit from Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainability Sector Provides 4.5 Million Jobs in US

How fortunate is it that I am still allowed to go to work during this pandemic? I am deemed an ‘essential employee’ – laughs – in this time of crisis, though I am nothing more than a barista at my local drive-thru only coffee shop. Fortunately, my risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. I get to come to work and see my friends, talk with my favorite customers, share a cup of joe with those who need it most, and fill my day with smiles, laughs and, most importantly, caffeine.  

If I am so fortunate, though, why do I feel so cheated by the CERB?  

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is absolutely necessary during COVID-19. $2000 every four weeks will help Canadians pay for the necessities of life and will lead to a faster economic recovery once the pandemic settles down. The importance of this plan cannot be understated, and the speed and efficiency that the CERB has been implemented is remarkable. However, for essential employees who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, the lack of benefits received is truly unfortunate. 

                       

Take grocery store workers. The tireless work of these employees has been a sight to behold since the pandemic started, and how important they are to the community has been exposed in full. Heaps of praise for their hard work has been rightfully given, but the fact remains that they are overworked and overexposed to COVID-19. They are in desperate need of more help, as ads plastered over social media social-media saying “Join Our Team” indicate, but ask yourself this: would you really want to work for $2500 a month while risking serious exposure to a terrible disease when you could stay home and earn $2000 a month? Countless Canadians are currently at home, able to work, but the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can hardly justify earning an extra $500 a month. There may be those who disagree, and that is entirely their judgement call to make, but I know personally that such an offer would not entice me towards applying.

These are essential employees, among countless others, who are facing the pandemic head-on and providing the best services they can at the time when we need them the most. And while praise and thanks are absolutely necessary (and thankfully being given out by millions of gracious Canadians), these people deserve more. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has proposed that the eligibility criteria be dropped for those applying to the CERB so that everyone who needs help will get access to the CERB (Campbell, 2020). His proposal included recently-graduated students, previously unemployed Canadians and people who earned less than the $5000 application minimum over the previous 12 months (Campbell, 2020). While I agree with all these above, I also believe that the CERB should be available to those who are still working. I think it is safe to say that those who are putting themselves on the frontlines of this pandemic everyday deserve more than just heartfelt thanks from Canadians; they deserve financial support during this time. Allowing a universal application for the CERB would provide every Canadian a hand up in this trying time while providing a financial incentive for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue being employed. Every Canadian would stay financially afloat, and those who can work would be incentivized to do so. While unquestionably costly to the Canadian government, it is a cost that would keep the economy going, help to build a stronger foundation for the post-COVID recovery and, most importantly, would help those who deserve it the most. 

Reference: 

Campbell, C. (April 11, 2020). Burnaby’s Jagmeet Singh demands Trudeau ‘scrap’ CERB criteria. Burnabynow. https://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-s-jagmeet-singh-demands-trudeau-scrap-cerb-criteria-1.24116538

P.C: kc0uvb

COVID-19 has had disastrous impacts on college students’ mental health. Students now must figure out the next five months of their lives as colleges have forced people to return home or stay in one place. For many people, just being isolated can exacerbate anxiety and depression. For myself, I handle my anxiety by talking to and helping other people with their own mental health struggles. One of my favorite things to do to help people is, simply, to hug them. Whenever I hug someone, I imagine hugging out the negativity and self-doubt of my friends and absorbing those emotions into myself. Like kidneys filtering out blood, I like to think I can filter out my friend’s negative emotions without weighing myself down. Sadly, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to isolate, hugs are impossible. Now, whenever I see a post from a friend who is having a bad day, my heart aches for them as I want to hug the sadness out of them. All I can do is message them and let them know I am here for them. Texting them, unfortunately, only does so much. Words help, but the act of hugging goes so much further, especially when it takes days for people to answer. Without being with my friends in person, I feel powerless to help my friends, and through that my anxiety is slowly edging back to my periphery. While I feel this, I have found a new way to help other people through text.

One thing that I found to be helpful during this time is to reach out to those who are younger than us. I have reached out to people I know who are still in high school who are probably just as terrified of their future as we are. High school seniors who have worked for three and a half years and have made it to the fabled Senior Spring, only to have it ripped away from them two and a half months before they would be finished. At my high school, the seniors would perform a show during senior spring, all run and produced by the students themselves. As of now, the show is postponed until late May, but at this point, it is a major possibility that students will not go back to school this year. The implications of that are massive. No walking across the stage at graduation, no saying goodbye to your teachers, no smoking cigars with friends after graduating, nothing. To come all this way and not being able to be rewarded for your success is nothing short of heartbreaking. While we are mourning the loss of our spring semesters and time that we could be spending with our friends, seniors have lost their final hurrah of high school (I’m not forgetting college seniors either, you guys deserve everything too), and they need someone who will comfort them in their time of need.

-My friend and I during a highlight of senior spring: The Senior Cruise

By being a figure in these people’s lives, either older or younger, it provides meaning in our lives despite us not being there in person. For myself, in addition to staying in touch with my college friends, I had a long talk with a camp co-worker until five in the morning. While I did not interact with her as much in high school or at camp, it felt good to be able to talk and be hopeful towards the future. While COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of how friends can help friends, you can always get in touch with those who are younger than you. If you do, you might find yourself making a difference in their lives! 

By Colleen Boken:

If you have ever traveled on the train between Boston and New York, chances are you have stopped briefly in the small city of New London, Connecticut. Located on the glistening shores of Long Island Sound, New London is home to the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut College, Mitchell College, and a whole host of small-town businesses. It is a town rich in nautical history, and is the kind of place that would seem right at home in a Stephen King novel.

I have been serving here as an Americorps member with the New England Science and Sailing Foundation, serving in the schools and getting an understanding of the integral structure that makes up the city of the sea. Therefore, when the coronavirus came, it forced us all to reexamine what it was about living in a small town that made it so much more different from other places around. 

It is important to note that I love everything that makes up a great, small town.  Walking down Bank Street, the main commercial hub, the variety of businesses making it their own is undoubtedly what makes it a town like no other. The two-story buildings that line the river and the railway tracks are usually bustling, with all sorts of emporiums plying their wares. There is a gay bar, a cute little coffee shop with memories of times once past, a few barbershops, a museum in the oldest operating customs house, and even a number of tattoo parlors.  On a usual Saturday, from nighttime to daytime, these places are bustling. Students, locals, people who came in on the train, and the occasional submariner from the nearby base turn bank street into a party alley.

It was right before Saint Patrick’s Day when the coronavirus pandemic became serious enough to the point that the governor of the state had no choice but to order all businesses closed.  It was a day that the town had been anxiously preparing for, with parades and all sorts of events planned, only for it to suddenly come to naught. I live downtown, not far from Bank Street, and with a view that tells a story of its own

I took time to walk down Bank Street that night, and what I found summed up many of the feelings that are being reflected in towns across the nation. Bars and restaurants that should have been bustling with people eating corned beef and listening to Irish pub music were instead graced with only the sound of the sea breeze and the occasional “toot toot” of the train. No lights were on, and a few places were doing take-out, but not many. In many ways, it felt like the town had become a ghost of itself, and it was quite easy to wonder if it was the end of the small town as we knew it.

Yet there is something to small towns that many people do not realize. When things like this happen, towns like New London do not just disappear. Instead, the people that make up a place like this find ways to remain positive. They bring forth a reminder of the good we can do if we just remember that we as a whole are a community–a community that needs to stand tall together.

I have had the great fortune of becoming friends with the local event planner extraordinaire. She is one amazing lady, and she embodies so much of what makes a small town wonderful. She recently began posting signs around New London: little reminders to thank the first responders who were helping everyone get through these unpredictable times. 

In addition, a firefighter who was back in New London decided to share some happy music with the good people on the street he was on by playing his bagpipes loud enough so that everyone could hear: a welcome surprise it was, and a needed one at a time when the sound of happy music was a welcomed addition.  

I have spent many years in small towns: growing up in one, going to college in another, and now serving for a year here. The small town is more than just a small gathering of people. Rather, it is a solid community that is built so strong that even when something like the coronavirus threatens the fabric of the town as a whole, it fights back even stronger. It may not be the biggest town in the world, but what is critical about the whole endeavor is that like many small towns, New London is built in such a way so as to thrive in the good times and show its strength when the going gets rough. 

On a personal note, I did not know what this town would be like. I had never even been to Connecticut before I took this position. What I have found is a place that does not care who you are, but instead on what you can do. It is a town full of pride and filled with hope. As you go on with your day today, think about your community–and how every place, big or small, has a chance to thrive even on its darkest days. 

Because when this whole thing is over, and when everything returns to some sort of normal, the communities we built will show us just what we can become. 

By Madison Kirkpatrick

When you’re a young kid in grade or middle school, you probably don’t realize the value of a dollar. My parents weren’t rich, but they were comfortable enough so that I didn’t have to work to get most of what I wanted. Even when my mom lost her job, she was able to bounce back into another completely different field. She ended up quitting that and now works in sales and makes more than we ever have before. I watched her struggle but didn’t really have to experience it. I felt bad at times when I’d watch my stepsisters juggle school and work because their mom is a teacher and couldn’t really afford to give them a lot of money. If they wanted money, they earned it. I never realized that my life wasn’t really like that when I was younger. 

When I got to college, things changed a bit. I finally decided I wanted to work because I had the schedule and I felt like I was ready for the next step. I’d wanted to work in high school but hadn’t had a lot of luck, which ironically was like a trend for my older brother and I. We were both interested in working but it just didn’t work out due to a lack of time, and my brother never heard back from the job he applied to. I applied for a job at a grocery store and got it. I didn’t really know how to start; I wasn’t used to working or a constant discipline. I was horrible back then and sometimes I hated myself for not getting work right away. There was some pressure to be good at the job, and even though I tried to give myself credit for being new, it didn’t get better for a while. However, I got better over time and eventually decided to work for my friends’ parents’ yogurt shop in the same plaza. This is where I feel like I started learning the value of a dollar. I saw my money slipping away because I didn’t know how to work with my money. After I left the grocery job, I stayed with the yogurt shop for a few more months. I was able to keep my routine of trying to save money, and though it wasn’t perfect, I stopped wasting a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. I was able to save my money and prepare for an emergency, almost like I finally knew how to deal with the economy.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I had planned to start at UCSB, thyroid cancer caused me to go into treatment and defer a quarter. I didn’t work during that time or during my first UCSB quarter. To be honest, I hated it. I was bored and hated asking my parents for money. When I got a new job as a cashier I became happier; I craved the independence of working, as making my own money is so rewarding to me. I worked two jobs again for a while until I left the cashier job to focus on school and other commitments. Recently, I found out they were laying off my department at my job at the mall because the mall closed. I was already home but fully expecting to go back and it threw a wrench in my plans, making coming back to SB almost unnecessary. 

I didn’t know what to do. I was back home and had no money coming in. I only had school to look forward to. I’m glad I don’t work now because I wouldn’t have the time, but a few weeks ago it was a hard adjustment. I was used to working. I filed for unemployment and was luckily approved, and although I was grateful for the government help, I miss the independence that comes with leaving the house and going to work, talking with people, making friends you wouldn’t know otherwise, and being able to learn new things about the workforce. For me, the ability to work equals the ability to have independence. You can make new friends and people rely on you for something, but you can decide what sort of job you do. Also, when you make your own money, people can’t tell you how to spend it.

One thing I noticed, though, is that I’ve actually been pretty good with my money. Ironically, I’m trying to be careful because I don’t get a stimulus check and I want to prepare for an emergency. I have a lot saved and am trying to not spend too much, save what I spent for my laptop which was a necessity. I’m shocked at how well I’m doing. When I least expect it, I’m dealing with the economy pretty well and I’m as ready as I can be if an emergency arises. I hope I can keep going when this is all over. 

This is just part of my perspective regarding the COVID outbreak and its impact on the economy. I realize, though, that plenty of people, including students, will be in my position. I can offer three tips to people based off my experience. The first is to save. People are concerned with buying the newest items and not thinking about the future, but in times like this, savings can go a long way. The second tip I can give is to prepare for the worst; that is, prepare for not working. I didn’t think about not working and it was a huge change; I could’ve had a backup in case something fell through. Having something to do during this time can keep your sanity and make you think less about working. The last tip I can offer is to be patient. It’s hard right now and these times are unprecedented, but don’t stress! Everything will be okay, and you too can find relief during this time if you remain optimistic. It seems like a tall order but it’s possible!

Remember being 12 years old? Yeah, I try not to either. But what I do remember is being the kid who read all the time. I would tear through book after book – for fun! How long has it been since you’ve read for fun? In the last few years I’ve found it nearly impossible, what with all the reading I already have to do for my university courses, not to mention how busy my part-time job and homework keeps me. Pleasure reading is for breaks only. 

Well, we’ve just been hit with the biggest break the world has ever seen. If you’re not a front-line worker you’ve likely got more free time than ever before. Why not pick up a book? Lucky for you, I’m one step ahead. Here is a list of seven books that will make you read with the fervor of a 12-year-old who hasn’t been burdened with unemployment or calculus.  

The Long Walk – Richard Bachman (a.k.a Stephen King)

Before the Hunger Games, there was The Long Walk. 

The Long Walk takes place in the not-so-distant future. Every year on the first of May, 100 teenage boys enroll in the Long Walk. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, you’re out – for good. The walk goes on until only one boy remains, and he will win everything he could ever want – but at what price?

I’ve read dozens of King books, but this is the one I always recommend to a newcomer. I physically couldn’t put it down. The Long Walk is brilliantly existential, surprisingly emotional, with each page more harrowing than the last. Not the sunniest of reads, but trust me, you’ll be thinking about this one for days.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas 

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

I have never read a book that has made me so angry. There were several moments where the only thing that prevented me from screaming with frustration was the fact that I didn’t want to freak out my roommates. I read the last 150 pages in one sitting because I simply couldn’t put it down. I will never experience Starr’s plight. But thanks to the eloquent work of Angie Thomas, I can at least begin to understand. This is a book I think every person can benefit from reading. 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood 

Listen, I did not want a sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale, nor did I think the world needed one. But did I pre-order my copy and pay to see Margaret Atwood do a live reading at my university? You bet your ass I did. No, we did not need this book, but I loved every page of it.

The Testaments picks up roughly 15 years after Offred disappears into the van at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale. There are three perspectives; a young woman who grows up in Gilead, a teenage girl who is free in Canada, and a notorious villain whose motives may not be as heinous as we once thought. 

There are two downsides to this book: the first is that Margaret Atwood is a little bit out of touch with being a teenage girl, so some of those chapters didn’t sit quite right. The second is that you’ll probably have to read The Handmaid’s Tale first, and while it is a brilliant book, it is deeply depressing and very slow at times. You could always just google the synopsis – I won’t tell. 

The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson: A True Story of Love and Murder – Lois Simmie

I had to read this book in my grade 12 English class, and let me just say, it was WILD. Picture a classroom full of 17-year-old gremlins with various ranges of literacy, all of whom are absolutely engrossed with this novel. 

Secret Lives follows the true story of a Scottish man, John Wilson, who disgraced his name and moved to Canada, leaving his wife and children behind. In 1914 he joined the Mounties, and while stationed in Saskatchewan he caught tuberculosis and fell in love with the much younger woman who nursed him through it. But it isn’t long before his wife back in Scotland sets out to find him, and what happens from then on is nothing short of tragic. 

It has been over three years since I read this book, and I’ll never forget where I was when the big plot twist happened. If you like true crime or Canadian history, do yourself a favour and pick this one up. 

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis 

This is a contemporary young adult book that deals with rape culture in a way I have not read in any other book. 

After Alex’s sister is murdered and the killer walks free, she takes justice into her own hands. Living with what she’s done is easy but opening up to those around her – new friend Peekay and budding romance Jack – is not. As the trio navigates their senior year, tensions boil as Alex’s darker nature unfolds. 

Tragic as it may be, I think you could hand this book to any young woman and she will find a character with whom she deeply relates to. It is an authentic portrayal of young-adulthood and the horrors that come along with it, while finding love in unexpected places. 

Educated – Tara Westover 

Educated is the true story of Tara Westover, the seventh child of survivalists in the mountains of Idaho. She never received a birth certificate and never attended school, spending her childhood working in the family junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so head injuries, burns, and gashes were treated with herbalism. In her teens, she bought the textbooks needed to learn the content for the ACT’s. To her shock, she passed with a mark high enough to enroll in Bringham Young University. At 17 years old, Tara Westover stepped into a classroom for the first time. 

This woman is absolutely astounding. I could barely handle trigonometry after a decade of math lessons, I cannot fathom having to teach it to myself. But her journey was so traumatic, and her self-discovery is just as admirable as her brilliant mind. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket 

Perhaps you read this series when you were actually 12. Well, I can confirm that the series is just as entertaining to read as an adult. 

The series follows Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, whose parents die in a mysterious fire, leaving behind an enormous fortune for Violet to inherit when she comes of age. The siblings are sent to live with their villainous distant relative, Count Olaf, and from there, nothing but misery ensues. 

Of course, the hijinks and mystery are fun for the kiddos, but there’s so much more to the series than that. The series looks at how adults are often complicit in the abuse of children, whether it’s been too scared to help, too dismissive to believe, or too proud to listen. Another overarching theme of the series is that people are not inherently good or evil, and that morality is a choice that needs to be made every day. 

There are also man-eating leeches and a cult. Enough said. 

Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments!

By Rebecca Goldfarb

Growing up, I felt so trapped socially. I went to school with the same 150 people since kindergarten and was always looked at as “quiet, shy, and boring” by high school classmates, no matter how much I tried to lose that image. Day after day, I felt like I was constantly living in a bubble. Being socially contained like this for 13 years urged my drive to get out of Orange, Ohio. While I was in high school, I went on two school trips to Europe. I made so many meaningful friendships on these trips with people from all over the place. These experiences were life changing and from those moments, I knew I wanted to study abroad for a whole semester in college, as the best experiences are the international ones. 

In college, I was finally able to shave my whole high school image off and create a new identity. Going to college in Boston certainly helped, and I was also able to build a solid foundation of so many different friend groups, that I left high school completely behind. I worked so hard for the past two and half years to become an extrovert, to build this social circle, and to finally live life and enjoy being young. 

Junior year was the year of the unexpected. Both semesters turned into something completely different than I thought it was going to be, especially my semester abroad. It has been a few weeks since getting sent back from the United Kingdom due to the coronavirus. Even now, it is still so complicated to process the idea of having been abroad during a pandemic; the time where no one is allowed to travel. Yet, I still did managed to travel all over Europe during the time COVID-19 was slowly emerging. 

I still was able to get a solid two months abroad while traveling all over Europe, even with this crisis on the rise. These were the few months I set aside to do significant traveling and a once-every-one hundred year pandemic just had to come about during the three months I had selected to embark on this adventure. That being said, there are both upsides and downsides for having been abroad during this pandemic, mostly downsides obviously, but let me explain the true overall impact coronavirus left on my study abroad experience. 

Being abroad during this crisis allowed me to understand the situation in multiple international perspectives, especially in the way various European businesses and governments were reacting to the crisis. Had I just been in the United States, I would have only stuck to the knowledge of what my home state and the state that I went to college in was doing. Being abroad during an international pandemic allowed me to really integrate myself in seeing how these countries dealt with an international crisis. Having been abroad in London, I now follow updates in the U.K. and all over Europe to see what they’re doing to handle all of this, even when I’m no longer there. I probably would not have done that otherwise. 

Overall, my knowledge and interest in international politics has increased immensely due to the fact that I was abroad during this pandemic. I got to be experiencing the action, and compare the way the citizens of both the United Kingdom and the United States took precautions. Even when my program got cancelled, I still had to embark on an international flight home. Traveling internationally itself during this pandemic allowed me to brave it out, which enhanced the intensity of my journey home, as I embraced myself for the six hour customs line at the United States border. 

I still had other international trips within Europe planned for the remainder of my abroad semester that I knew I couldn’t go on. The European airline companies canceled these booked flights due to COVID-19. This was not only a relief, as it guaranteed I could get my money back, but it also provided me more with an international perspective of this crisis. It is unbelievable that I traveled to Italy on the last possible weekend I could have done it, right before coronavirus exploded there. It all sucks right now, but years from now when we look back at this pandemic, I can talk about how I was studying abroad during this crisis, I took risks in international travel and got to be in multiple different countries and see their perspectives on the issue. I can share this cool and unique story to others about the pandemic that many people wonder about. If I had to find any benefit of being abroad during coronavirus, this is what I can pinpoint. 

I was in Italy from February 20-23, the last calm weekend in the country before the virus took over. 

Granted, I still got two months in England and got to travel to five other countries, for which I am extremely grateful. I still feel as though I got the full study abroad experience despite being sent home a month early. I am also grateful that I was able to get home in time before travel restrictions were made, that I could be home with my family during quarantine, and that they’re healthy. 

I’m so thankful for what I did get to do while I was abroad. I absolutely loved living in South Kensington. From seeing 7 shows on the West End to watching the BAFTAs red carpet across the street from where I have class, it already feels like I have been living here for months already. While traveling, I was able to meet so many new people from all over the world in the most unexpected circumstances. From being stuck in the Budapest airport for two extra days to a random person coming up to my friends and I at a pub, asking us to guess a riddle about expired yogurt, these random situations turned into the most memorable ones. I went from being scared of staying in a hostel, to absolutely loving it. I loved meeting people my age and learning about why they were travelling and where they were coming from. I’m so thankful that I was able to travel to these places and get these experiences before the CV situation got bad in Europe.

That being said, I hate the fact that I had to get sent home from abroad and that this crisis had to happen right now. I went from living my best life to living no life at all. I came about many frustrations during my quarantine because I looked back at how amazing these experiences were and I was craving more. I wanted more experiences like these in my upcoming trips. I wanted to travel to the other places I was supposed to go to, so I could meet more new people from all over the world and see more new places. The more I started thinking about what I could have done if there was no pandemic, the more I wanted the original full amount of abroad time I was anticipating. I think what bothers me the most is the feeling that the universe just wants me stuck and isolated in Ohio forever.

Being sent home and into social isolation, I feel as though I am back at square one. Back to feeling stuck and trapped like I was in high school. Except this time, if I try to get out and be social and live life and have fun, I risk getting myself and my family sick, which is the most messed up part about this whole situation. This isn’t just my early 20’s, this is OUR early 20’s. We’re supposed to be traveling, going out for drinks, going to concerts and clubs, and making crucial social connections and friends that are supposed to last a lifetime. We’re supposed to be getting critical, career defining internships. We’re being deprived of precious college moments, some of the best moments of our lives so far. We’re only in college for so long, so who knows when we will have the opportunity to have experiences like these again? 

Tea and Scones at Wimbledon Tennis Stadium 

Everyone in the world is being screwed over in some sort of way or from some type of experience, from unemployment to a high school prom. It sucks for everyone. However, the pandemic has shown us the various ways things can be made up for. Soon, we’ll be out of quarantine and we will be able to get back the experiences that coronavirus ripped away from us. I will get out of Ohio and I will get the chance to see the rest of the world. And that’s what’s getting me through, to know that I can get back and finish what I started. I now have a greater motivation to make this a reality. Who knows how motivated I would have been to go back to Europe immediately if I was able to get a full semester. The idea of my travels getting cancelled increases my itch to get back into the world as soon as possible (and also my hostel vouchers expire in a year, so I have to go back anyways). 

This pandemic has also taught me to take advantage of any opportunities that interest you while you can, because you never know when another obstacle will sneak up on you and stop you from being able to do something. Be grateful for every moment you get to experience. 

Soon enough, the world will be operational again. If we want to make this a reality, it is crucial that we continue to stay at home and do our part to get life back running, so we can go back to living our early 20’s sooner than we think. A couple months on pause won’t seem like a big deal in the long run.

By Carmiya Baskin

It’s springtime in Florence, Italy. Rays of sunlight peek out from behind the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Arno River sways peacefully in the light breeze, and the typically bustling Piazza Signoria is void of human activity. This year, the atmosphere is charged not with the serenity that comes before the inevitable flocking of summer crowds but with the anxiety about a highly contagious virus that is rapidly traversing borders.

In the safety of her apartment, Danielle Cohen, a UCSB alum who moved to Florence in January to begin her new job, reveals how her life has changed since the virus took hold. She has just finished recording an episode of “Quarantine in the Kitchen,” a series she invented in which she documents what she is cooking that day and posts it on her Instagram story to keep both herself and her followers entertained — and sane.

“I feel more safe in my apartment here than back home in the States,” Cohen says, gesturing to her surroundings that fill the screen on Zoom. As of three weeks ago, private hospitals in Italy have begun offering free medical care to people who have contracted COVID-19. Cohen notes that returning to California would pose a greater risk as, throughout the whole nation, testing kits and proper treatment are scarce and safety measures are not being enforced. 

While rules for quarantining have been announced in the U.S., there are no centralized regulations. As Cohen states, “it’s all happening state by state, city by city, beach by beach.” She feels that the U.S. should initiate a full lockdown immediately and learn from Italy’s initial mistakes; at first, people in Italy were not taking the quarantine seriously, much like many folks in the U.S. aren’t now.


Further, Cohen claims that social distancing does not work. “It’s frustrating to watch the U.S. follow in Italy’s footsteps because we didn’t know what was going on a few weeks ago. Now, America has a country to look to for guidance — which Italy didn’t have — and it’s not encouraging a countrywide shutdown.” Although she admits she is lonely in her apartment at times, she feels that staying inside and away from people is the best way to protect herself and those around her.

“Italy’s numbers are finally going down and it’s because we’ve been on lockdown for a month,” Cohen declares. According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough and a fever. Coronavirus spreads mainly through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze or when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

“Italian people care about their communities and appreciate the safety measures that are in place,” Cohen says. Venturing outside one’s home in Italy is strictly prohibited and accompanied by a hefty fine of €3,000 if one gets caught. When asked what tactics she uses to cope with mental health issues (as fresh air is no longer an option), she describes her daily routine which involves dancing along to online Zumba videos, piecing together puzzles featuring Italian art, and video chatting with friends and family from home.

She has two white boards on the fridge in which she writes her daily to-do list on one and her overall goals on another. She adds, “allowing yourself to have bad days is important. It’s asking too much of yourself to assume that everyday is going to be productive. The first week was really hard — I went from working a full-time job and having housemates to not having any of that.”

Despite the hardships, Cohen notes that there are positive aspects to this pandemic that is quickly making its way around the world. “We’re letting our world heal and we’re letting ourselves grow.” As everyone is staying inside, the air pollution has decreased, the amount of fish in the Venice canals has increased, and wildlife has begun to thrive again. While it’s unrealistic to remain in quarantine forever, Cohen reminds people that they must be more aware of their footprint. This is especially important as the Environmental Protection Agency has suspended the enforcement of environmental rules due to the coronavirus outbreak.

She encourages people to take this time to learn a new hobby, rekindle old skills, and connect with loved ones. She says, “I’ve never been alone or inside for this long in my life… it’s kind of freeing. Going home would’ve been the easy way out but this [situation] is a new challenge for me and I’m learning a lot about myself.”

Cohen sums it up by saying, “I hope the rest of the world starts listening so this quarantine can end soon.”

Citations

Cohen, Danielle. Personal interview. 2 April 2020.

Kraft, Ariana. “EPA Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Laws in Response to COVID-19.” WNCT, 30 Mar. 2020.

Parodi, Emilio. “Special Report: ‘All Is Well’. In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 16 Mar. 2020.

“Here Are Italy’s New Quarantine Rules on Jogging, Walking and Taking Kids Outside.” Thelocal.it, 1 Apr. 2020.

“Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization.

We come together in creative ways.  At the beginning of this pandemic, I had no perspective.  The only image I was ever able to create in my mind was this broken unrecognizable reality.  Globally, nothing was the way it was, and there was a major shift in everyday reality for everyday people.  Simultaneously, all of our lives were disrupted. As a community, we lost a lot. There was a period of time when we all started to pay attention to all the things we were going to miss out on.  Proms were canceled, graduations were destroyed, and people were physically getting kicked out of dorm rooms. Times were really dark for a while. As we began to settle in, our new profound realities scattered.  It got worse. Society was shutting down and the world was turning really dark.

It goes without saying that most of us took to social media—pain was felt and noticed on all platforms.  Frustrated by the lack of stability, we all fell into a vast global grieving process.  Anger from the lack of toilet paper. Anxiety by not being able to go outside. Fear from catching COVID-19.  It was terrifying. 

But something I noticed was that we didn’t stay there for very long.  Once we allowed ourselves to have an adjustment period for our new worlds of self-isolation, most of us got creative.  With the new and sudden boost of content on the internet, we tried to make the most out of it.

We came together in creative ways.  All across the planet, everyone was trying to help with this pandemic in every way possible.  We got fashion designers making masks and Shakira making hand sanitizer. My new favorite notification on my phone shows when people throw dance parties in their front yard.  The world is pretty cool. We’re doing some pretty cool things. I’m actively prioritizing my time to be here with all of you. 

I’m a 2nd-year college student from UCSB, so I live in Isla Vista—the most compassionate and united community I’ve ever had the chance to live in.  It astonishes me how other places aren’t like it. There is a standard of respect in the community.  We understand that everyone has their difficulties that life throws at them, meaning there’s no reason for why we can’t help them out.  They need to only ask, and usually they’ll find a helping hand. It’s a pretty cool place to live. 

I hope we continue to care for one another after all of this.  I don’t want the immediate response after COVID-19 to be a reversion to the hateful world that we were.  I want to see lasting change in the function of our societies. I want us to notice each other’s presence and respect them without question. That is what society should look like.  We have to get there. We have to use this to our advantage and plan and promote the societies we want to live in.  The only way through this all is together.  We got this. I love you guys.  – OG

by Mia Foster

As of April 10th, 19 states have extended school closures through the end of the school year, and all 50 states have currently mandated school closures, but not all have been extended through the spring (Nagel). These closures are imperative to efforts to flatten the curve, but the impacts on students’ academic progress and emotional wellbeing must be addressed. As a senior in high school, I have experienced this loss quite acutely. I can only speak to my experience, so I intend to inform you on how the closure affects the typical American coming-of-age experiences, how to support high school seniors around you, and ways to best replicate these quintessential experiences at home. 

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What is Lost

I remember watching High School Musical 3 on repeat as a kid, imagining my own prom dance and graduation. I knew it wouldn’t be exactly as it was portrayed in the movies, but I didn’t care; I just knew that a similar experience was waiting for me. Growing up in America, those experiences are universal and anticipated. I used to try on my mom’s prom dress. I was so little that the heavy, peach-colored fabric drowned me. I put on her too-large heels and she curled my hair. I was a princess. My mom looked at me through the mirror and smiled. I always assumed I would have a dress in my closet that my daughter could try on one day, dreaming of her prom and feeling like a princess. 

Maybe it was presumptuous, but I just assumed I would get ready with my friends, put on my own princess dress, and dance. I assumed I would experience Senior Assassins and the All-Night Grad Party, which are traditions at my school. I assumed I would walk across the stage to receive my diploma as I saw at my brother’s graduation two years prior. And, mainly, I assumed I would live these experiences with my friends at my side. The losses experienced by the senior class are not insignificant. I know that I am not alone in my loss because many others are experiencing extremely debilitating losses during the pandemic, such as the loss of a job or a loved one. However, through some reflection on this tendency of mine, I realized that comparing my loss to others did not help my emotional state or that of others suffering. Seniors, your loss is significant. You have every right to grieve; it wasn’t just a loss of these ceremonies, but also a loss of their symbolic significance in the journey to adulthood in America. It is OK to be upset.

How to Support Graduating Seniors

  • Listen. Even if you don’t understand why this is so upsetting for the high school senior you are talking to, recognize that they did experience a loss and often want an outlet to vent their grief. 
  • Remind them that you are proud of the accomplishments they have made in high school. Often, a graduation ceremony is a way of congratulating and celebrating the hard work of students. Without that, students may feel a lack of closure and genuine accomplishment. Kind words can make a huge difference.
  • Validate their experiences. I personally have felt guilty for feeling this loss, and many of my friends have expressed the same feeling. Giving the person space and permission to feel what they feel can be very liberating.

Coming-of-Age: Quarantine Edition

The events that have been canceled cannot be perfectly replicated, but I believe that we should do our best to have our own ceremonies and celebrations to help fill that hole and provide some closure. My school has scheduled a virtual commencement ceremony, and when my family told me they wanted to make a party out of it (with just our family), I started to cry. They plan to make my favorite foods and spend the evening together. This is a simple, powerful, and attainable way of celebrating graduation. It obviously isn’t the same, but by treating it as a unique event instead of dreading it because of how different it will be, it feels a bit better. Some schools or private organizations are also trying to plan prom dances for summertime, should large gatherings be permitted. Another idea is to make graduation parties prom-themed, assuming that smaller gatherings are permitted before the fall. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I was mainly sad about not getting my own prom dress and the experience of getting ready with my friends. This option fulfills that desire!

Graduation, prom, and other senior-year events are part of the quintessential high school experience in America. While we cannot fix the loss entirely, by respecting the emotions of graduating seniors and doing what we can to replicate these experiences, we can hopefully provide some of the closure and encouragement most of us yearn for. 

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Works Cited

Nagel, David. “Updated List of Statewide School Closures with Closure Dates.” THE Journal, 10 Apr. 2020, thejournal.com/articles/2020/03/17/list-of-states-shutting-down-all-their-schools-grows-to-36.aspx?m=1.