Despite COVID-19

Efrend Majdoubeh (Photo: Jordan News)
Efrend Majdoubeh (Photo: Jordan News)
With the Coronavirus’ unpredictable nature and fluctuating impact, it is hard for one to be at peace with themselves and the environment they settle in, be it a compact home, or even a university residence, such as in my case.اضافة اعلان

Travelling from Jordan nearly toward the end of the first pandemic wave, I now reside as a second-year student, going into the third year, at the Carleton University campus in Canada, a campus which opened its arms fully to me and offered me all the support needed, even though we were and are still studying online.

Sitting at home and learning from afar, without being on this beautiful, caring campus, was no option for me and for many university-age students.

When the pandemic took the globe by surprise in March 2020, I was rushed home, amidst fear and uncertainty and upon the summons of my parents, on the last Royal Jordanian plane took off from Montreal.

I was quarantined for 14 days in a comfortable hotel in Amman and another two weeks at home. I had a great time with my family, but by July I was ready to defy COVID-19 and head back to my campus, in spite of the anxiety and the risk. 

We need campus life, even if there were no face-to-face classes, and we need some campus facilities, some friends, and some support offices. Even a small walk or excursion on this beautiful campus means a lot to me and, I am sure, to the few students who “roughed it” like me.

Certainly, my journey here was not without challenges and difficulties relating to adapting and confining to a familiar, yet very different setting.

As I took my first steps outside of the Ottawa International Airport and made my way towards the residence, I could not help but notice the nearly empty streets that were once filled with life. I stumbled upon a couple of squirrels roaming freely, extremely happy to have all this space.

And yet, I saw no sight of any students, such as myself. I made my way into the dormitory only to realize I was the first student on my entire floor. The same hallway I passed by to enter my room was once filled with many enthusiastic and excited students who were ready to interact with one another in hopes of creating new friendships and acquaintances.

However, it would be hard to say that with such a change new opportunities were not available. Online learning to me was a challenge in and of itself. However, it was a challenge that I gladly took on as I went through lectures and assignments in the comfort of my room. Not being able to attend classes physically, led me to find ways to be productive with minimal distractions and minimal resources. 

I was able to find productivity in activities I had not experimented with before COVID-19; I went jogging by the canal, I started writing short stories in my free time, and I decided to enjoy the process of taking pictures of the beautiful outdoors of Ottawa.

After finally taking the vaccine, and the unfamiliarity and unexpectedness of the pandemic gradually diminished, I started to enjoy meeting with the friends and students who started showing up in bigger numbers to campus, and student residences especially. Not exactly a full campus life, but still very fulfilling.

As an international student, I would say COVID-19 was a shock at first, to say the least, especially when I realized the social freedom that drives my university was practically taken away by a force we cannot see, but certainly can feel its negative impact worldwide.

However, hope is maintained through the unexpected ways in which such an event can create new means of coping and filling in our precious time.

I know that till now, since COVID-19 has not come to an end, many students worldwide are hesitant to leave the comfort of home and head back to campuses which — like mine — open their arms fully to them. The choice is a difficult one, of course: online at home, or online on campus — almost alone! 

However, despite COVID-19, and may be because of it, I feel lucky I took the risk, took my chances, and made it.

“Where there is a will, there is a way.” How true and how profound this saying is!

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