None of us could have predicted that the past three months would see all of our lives change drastically forever. There are things that many of us probably wish we had done, said or appreciated before the pandemic took hold. Three writers reflect on what they wish they had known before the pandemic.
“There are still a few months left before I have to say goodbye, and I’ll strive to make the most of that time. While it makes me well up a little thinking about the moment I’ll walk out of Warwick for the last time as an undergraduate, I take forward with me memories and friends that will live long beyond campus and I think that thought is what I’ll keep in mind to try and stop me from crying at every ‘last’ moment I have in my final few months here. It may be wishful thinking; sentimental mess that I am, I imagine there will be a few tears to shed yet.”
These are the words I wrote in an article a few months ago, where I thought about how much my last Term Three at Warwick would mean to me. Like other finalists who are coming to terms with not ending the university experience as hoped, the past couple of weeks, in particular, have been bittersweet. I’m writing this having submitted my dissertation just a few days ago, my last assignment for Warwick. Far from having celebrations with friends ahead, the monotony of lockdown persists.
I would have said my goodbyes to friends properly
It’s easy to let that sadness quickly drown you, which I have done a few times. However, it’s also made me realise how much I had pinned on these last few months. Had I known I wouldn’t see them again for a while, I would have said my goodbyes to friends properly and made the most of the opportunities to see them in Term Two.
That’s what I’d tell my pre-pandemic self – tell people what they mean to you now, instead of waiting for some significant moment yet to come. That, and also – start your dissertation, because writing it in a panic of four weeks is not fun.
When I left campus on Friday 13 March, I never expected that I wouldn’t be returning for Term Three. I only packed with me a few belongings to get me through the Easter holidays. There was so much to look forward to in Term 3 – saying goodbye to my third-year friends who are graduating, nights out once assignments were complete, brunch plans, coffee meetups and sitting on the Warwick grass in the summer sun.
In the last few weeks of Term 2, I was so overwhelmed with assignments that nights out with friends were turned down and I stayed in to do work instead. I wish I’d enjoyed a very sweaty Neon or POP! instead of worrying over how productive I had been that day.
I dream of a return to ‘normal’ in my third-year
Lockdown has taught me that it’s okay not to be productive every single day and I’d tell my pre-lockdown self to stop stressing over that essay. I dream of a return to ‘normal’ in my third-year at Warwick, where I really will appreciate physically attending lectures, seminars and late-night library sessions, but also taking my time away from work to focus on myself – something I did not do as much before the pandemic hit.
Looking back, three months on since I left campus, I wish I’d said yes to that night out, bought that cup of tea on campus that I really didn’t need and spent more time cherishing the face-to-face conversations with people I don’t get to see every day. It is the little moments and opportunities that you only get while being at university, that I wish I’d treasured even more.
I had absolutely no idea, like many other people, of the extent by which the pandemic would change every aspect of our lives. I couldn’t physically imagine not being able to come back for Term Three, not having to sit physical exams, saying goodbye to my second-year house and my friends who were supposed to be going on a year abroad. Even as the pandemic began to take its grip, I was truly in denial that I wouldn’t get the third term of my second year.
Life has changed dramatically in the past few months. I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and the way that I tend to use being busy as a coping mechanism. Being confronted with a lot of time and not much to occupy it apart from assignments and deadlines has challenged me to address a lot of things that have built up over the years.
I would tell my pre-pandemic self to use this time to reflect and grow
The past few months have been difficult, and I’m aware that so many other people have had it much harder. Society has changed and is changing. With the global consciousness surrounding issues of race and protests happening around the world to make society a more just and equal place, people have taken to lockdown as a period of reflection and to be brutally honest, I can’t imagine what the past few months or the next few would have been like if everything hadn’t come to ahead and we weren’t forced to change our lives.
So, while I am, of course, mourning for the time lost with those I love at university – I would tell my pre-pandemic self to use this time to reflect and grow in many ways and to learn to embrace what life throws at me.