(This is the first in a series of articles from students about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
- Were you in college or high school when the pandemic hit the country? What was the biggest impact on your life during the first few months of the pandemic? I was in the second semester of my first year of college when the pandemic hit the country. The biggest impact the pandemic made on my life at the beginning involved housing. I had to move out of my on-campus residence hall and was unsure where I would stay. I ultimately stayed with friends in Springfield until I moved to St. Louis to stay with other friends. I was eventually able to move back to Missouri State to work as SOAR Leader and was provided housing for this.
- What were the challenges of transitioning from seated classes (either high school or college) to online learning? Online learning has been more difficult for me than seated courses. This semester I am taking 15 credit hours all online, and it can be frustrating just reading the textbooks by myself, taking a quiz, writing a discussion board, and repeating it for all my courses every week. Several of my courses have similar content so sometimes it can get difficult to keep them all straight.
- What is the greatest lesson you took away from the pandemic (from the beginning to the point we are currently at with social distancing, masking)? I think I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible in situations that you have no control over. Life never has, and near will be fair. I didn’t ask to be a 20-year-old in the middle of a global pandemic, but I can’t change that, so I do my best to make the most of it.
- How did you practice Self-Care-As-A-Bear in dealing with the stress of online classes, isolation from friends and activities, general stress of dealing with the unknown? I try my best to enjoy the little things these days. Going to get lunch with a friend or just sitting on campus doing my online courses make me feel a sense of normality. I also try to take life day by day and try not to plan too far ahead since the uncertainty surrounding this situation tends to get my hopes up. Overall, I have been able to keep my mental health balanced and I kept my stress levels down as much as possible by working out, listening to music, thrift shopping, and spending time with friends.
- What did you learn about yourself as you went through/continue to go through the pandemic? I think I have learned to become a more confident person and leader throughout this pandemic. I was honestly unhappy in a lot of aspects right before the pandemic hit. I used the lock-down as a mental reset and completely changed my outlook on life for the better. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am grateful to have been able to find my own identity in the past year.
(Katherine Ruch is a sophomore, a Board of Governors Scholar, majoring in Sociology | Communication Studies, Student Affairs Office | Student Assistant, member of the Student Government Association, member of Alpha Omicron Pi | Vice President of Administration, a member of the Student Advisory Board and a SOAR Leader in 2020.)