Tim Ghianni, journalist-in-residence and a Lumination adviser, asked his 21st Century Media students to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.   Faith, loneliness and worries about infecting their parents are among their tales of studying in the middle of a pandemic. Here are their stories:

Never thought freshman year would be covered by masks

COVID-19 has caused many changes and problems in our world. Many people have died or experienced serious health complications because, so I always hesitate to share my frustrations with COVID. I realize that other people are dealing with worse than me. But as a college freshman, so many things are changing in my life just because of the transition from high school to college. Then if you add COVID on top of all that, that is a lot of change.

My senior year of high school was drastically cut short. I missed out on a lot of things that seniors should be able to do. The biggest being graduation. I was never a person who loved high school, but not getting to walk across the stage in my cap and gown was pretty disappointing. I was able to have a virtual graduation but that just is not the same. Now that I have transitioned into college, I don’t really still feel anger or disappointment about that time, but I do wish I had that memory to look back on.

Another major problem that has come with COVID-19 is my freshman experience at Lipscomb. Lipscomb has done an amazing job with keeping us healthy and involved on campus, but there are still some things that they can’t control. I am the kind of person who has been looking forward to college since elementary school. I had all these expectations about how my freshman year was going to go. And then college finally comes, and I have to wear a mask everywhere I go, I have to stay socially distanced from people and on-campus events aren’t happening. It is hard to deal with all of that, especially when I am eight hours away from home. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Lipscomb and I am so glad that I chose to go here. But I think all freshmen can agree that this year has not been how we had hoped our first year of college would go.

I am thankful that I, along with my close family and friends, have not had any serious health concerns with COVID, but I still feel that COVID has taken away things from my life that I should have experienced. – Emma Clark

Commuter worries about infecting parents

Each person has their own set of problems when it comes to going about daily life during a pandemic. Adults must figure out how to maintain a safe work environment, while students must maintain a safe learning environment. Some students have had to learn at home through ZOOM, but others, like me, have had the opportunity to go to classes in person.

One of the hardest challenges for me during a pandemic is to keep my hands and belongings clean throughout the day. I am a commuter student, which means I go home each day after class. One of my biggest concerns is making sure the rest of my family is safe. My parents have health risks, and I do not want to risk the chance of them getting COVID-19 because of me. I clean my hands before and after each class, and before I go home each day. I also wear a mask at home when I can’t maintain six feet distance between me and my family members. Going to school during a pandemic is hard, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn in person. – Jayme Foltz

Trusting in Jesus in the time of COVID

The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make during the pandemic is learning how to pursue the Lord in a place of isolation. As people who were created for community, it’s been difficult being filled like I once was. But at the same time, I think it’s made me grow me in ways I couldn’t have otherwise. I’m learning there are blessings in every season, no matter how hard the season may be.

Alongside that, my job has shifted a lot with working at a daycare. It’s hard to tell 5-year-olds they can’t be that close to a friend, reminding them to always have a mask over their face and always sit six feet apart at snack time. I can’t imagine how confusing it must be. This has put me in a position to grow in patience, which is hard but needed.

Lastly, I think the hardest part is wondering when it will be over. Some days it feels like it may never end. But what an opportunity to have our faith stretched to a place where we are truly living in the fact that God is in control. There’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to believe it and in this time, I’m learning even more of what it is to have hope in Jesus even when my eyes cannot see it. – Emily Lloyd

Yoga enthusiast finds it difficult without group

When I was 12-years-old, my aunt taught me how to meditate and practice yoga. Since then, yoga has always been a big part of my life. I am a 22-year-old senior in college now, and I cannot count the times that yoga has saved my sanity in times of stress and worry. To improve your practice, as we call it, in yoga, you need community. That purpose is accomplished through classes. Group classes.

I am currently in my last semester as an undergraduate and having my last semester in the midst of a pandemic has been challenging. I still practice yoga by myself, for my own sanity, but I truly miss the group of people that I would practice yoga with. I miss being in a quiet space filled with other people who share the same passion.

There are other physical activities that I miss. Pound Fit class, Zumba class and even running on the treadmill with my headphones on; next to other people who are (on their own physical bubble) doing the same.  – Kendra Lozano

COVID makes it virtually impossible to make new friends

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I think the most difficult part of being in college during a pandemic is how hard it is to meet and get to know people. I am about as introverted as they come, but I was looking forward to the opportunity to surround myself with different kinds of exciting people in college. I come from a small town and I graduated in a class of only 49 people, so I was eager to diversify my friendships and make connections with people who had similar interests. However, the pandemic has made this nearly impossible.

Even though I have been here for a few months, there are only two people I have been able to see regularly enough to solidify friendships with: my roommate and my neighbor from across the hall. During each week, at least half of my classes are virtual, and due to the current system, I only ever see half of the people that are actually in my class. There are some people in my classes that I have never seen. When I do get to go to class in person, it is difficult to get to know people since I can only see half of their faces. Even worse, no one really talks before or after class due to social distancing protocols and having to clean up their workspaces.

While I am glad to have made the friends that I have, this is not at all what I thought my freshman year would look like. I was really looking forward to meeting lots of interesting new people, but given the current circumstances, it doesn’t seem like that is possible. I am really glad that Lipscomb is being so careful to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it has made for a pretty isolating college experience thus far. Hopefully, by next year, a vaccine will be available, and life will return to something resembling “normal,” and I can break out of my current bubble a little bit more.

( I also am really missing live music, but that’s a story for another time.)  — Hannah Cron

Basketball player dreads weekly COVID tests, trusts in God

The world we live in today is a little hectic. Life as we know it has changed drastically. A pandemic has swept over us, and it has brought about many problems for lives all around the world, including mine.

Many people have different lifestyles, so we all have different challenges facing this horrific obstacle.

I am an athlete during this time, so I have had to make many sacrifices and changes in my life in order to keep my teammates and myself healthy. It is more than just me now; I have a lot more people to think about. I get COVID tested every Tuesday,  and if somebody on the team has it we all have to quarantine for two weeks. That is probably the most stressful thing about this whole situation. We wait and wait for calls every week to let us know if we are positive or negative.

It often brings about so much anxiety for all of us.

We do not want to be the reason for not practicing and falling behind for two weeks. We have to give up doing normal things that we have always been allowed to do, and that is extremely hard.

This way of life is something we did not ask for, but it is our reality now. There are people in much worse positions than me with this pandemic, and that is something I always have to remind myself. God has kept my family free from the sickness so far, and that is the biggest blessing.

Throughout our lives, we are going to face hardships and obstacles. It’s a hidden blessing that we can all go through it together and help each other out. Even in the midst of chaos, God’s love can be felt. He will never leave us. That is the main thing that helps me keep a positive perspective.

We will get through this together and come out stronger than ever. – Jalyn Holcomb

COVID’s impact on structured life includes remote learning woes

The biggest adjustment I had to make because of the pandemic was that I had to change my routines.

 I like to make my life extremely structured, and with the pandemic, I had to reevaluate a plethora of things within my own life. I have less work, school is now partially remote, and I have to be cognizant of where I go and how I go about certain activities. I have plenty weighing on my mind on a daily basis, and the pandemic added more fuel to the fire.

Another problem that I face is that I’m the type of learner that prefers to be in a classroom setting, the fact that classes are now partially remote creates a different dynamic for me. I’m unable to retain information as easily as I normally am, and I have to put a much more significant amount of time toward studying.

This may seem like an issue that isn’t too problematic; however, it disrupts the order that I keep in my daily life. The pandemic is constantly being blasted through the news as well as many other important issues in this current time, and I can’t help but stress this as well.

Making an attempt to keep everything going on packaged in my mind is a difficult thing to do. — Ishmail A. Kayyam

Lonesome butterfly wannabe wings clipped by COVID

I would not consider myself a social butterfly; however, this pandemic has made it very clear to me that I do value communal interaction much more than I would have assumed. When you spend the majority of your days alone, the isolation could make even the biggest introvert feel lonely.

I wish more than anything that I could go on dinner dates with my friends, travel, and attend concerts, but for the well-being of others, I must push those desires aside and learn to move forward.

Yet, it is hard to rise each morning with a cheerful disposition when I know today will be just as mundane as the rest. Oh, how I cannot wait for a scientific breakthrough and the eradication of the coronavirus all together.

When the glorious day comes where a vaccine is available and the virus is dead and gone, I will practically be dancing in the streets. But for now, I must learn how to live on my lonesome. Each day I must try to manifest joy. A positive outlook on this dreary scenario is the only way we will make it out of this hellish reality. – Madison Schomer

 Seclusion, loneliness result after COVID separates friends

As the pandemic began I was shocked how quickly everything changed. It took the world by surprise and soon I found myself sitting alone in my room, taken away from my college and friends.

Quarantine affected me in the form of seclusion and loneliness. I had made my closest friends through my freshman year of college and when we were told to pack up and go home, I did not just leave my dorm behind, but the people I previously spent every hour with. I had never had a friend group like my college friends and we all lived in different places of the country, so we could not see each other even if we would want to.

During quarantine, I lost motivation to do the activities that I loved and the things that helped me be my best, healthiest self. As a goal-oriented person, I saw no close goals to reach when I knew I would be stuck in my hometown for the next months. It hurt to lose my drive and my love for activities such as painting and working out. Those activities are what made me enjoy my weeks. Losing my friends and losing my passion for the things I love turned me into a person I did not recognize. I never realized how much I thrived in a social atmosphere, even being more introverted, I still looked forward to laughing with my friends and meeting new people.

I believe the situation hit me so hard because before quarantine I was the happiest I had ever been: College allowed me to completely be myself and have fun. When quarantine started, I was pushed back to my hometown and though I loved seeing my family, I spent most of my days wishing I was back in Nashville. I cut myself off from all social media and had trouble keeping in contact over the phone with my closest friends because I always related it to real interaction and it never came close. Quarantine treated me and everyone in the world horribly, and I know we are all waiting for the day we stop using that word. – Maggie Nester

International student can’t go home and is feeling lonesome challenge

I’m an international student. I believe that the biggest problem in my life during this global pandemic is: I am stuck here. Of course, because of the borders being closed but also because Brazil is the second-worst country in cases, only behind the United States. This year has not been good, I have to say it.

It mainly started around my birthday. The country decided to shut down on the weekend when I turned 20 years old. I was stuck in Indiana, with not even a third of my closet, and the school would not let us come back. I, fortunately, had a place to stay, but it was definitely not the ideal place. The host parents I had when I was an exchange student in 2017 offered me shelter. However, I mind that I was 17 when I stayed with them.

It was just not good. We had a big fight in my second week there, and I was done. Tired because I was carrying college online. Tired because I couldn’t go home. Tired because I was missing part of my freshman year. Tired because the world was chaos. People kept telling me that everyone is struggling, but every struggle is unique. I didn’t want to compare myself to anyone, I just felt it so hard that it truly changed me.

 I’m not as happy of a person as I used to be. I feel like I can’t trust the people around me. I believe that no one is able to understand me.

I’m trying to be more open and trying to observe the good things in life. I’m not quite there yet.

It’s going to be a whole year soon since I last saw my family in person. It hurts, it truly does. The future is so unknown and I’m alone. It’s hard to talk about it, but I know people have many stories like this. Life is not easy for anyone and this year has definitely been a challenge for me and for all. – Julia Correa

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