One year later: a pandemic retrospective

Members of the Dal Student Life Street Team looks back at what we’ve learned over the past year.

These smiling faces had no idea about what was to come!

It’s been a year since Dalhousie officially shut down all in-person operations. For most people, life has become unrecognizable over the past year, so we thought it was a good idea to take stock of how far we’ve come. Hopefully, in a few years, this will seem like a relic from the dark ages!


 

Samantha Howard, 4th year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

New Zealand; Toronto; Halifax; Ingonish, NS
 

What was the most surprising part of the pandemic?

For me, it was all the uncertainty around the beginning. Although this all feels normal now, I remember being very stressed out and worried that I would be stuck in New Zealand forever (panic brain thinking for sure). I also thought that the whole thing would end up being much worse than it was. (Read Sam's article about trying to get out of New Zealand in those early days of the pandemic.)
 

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

The biggest lesson I learned was to be easy on myself and be flexible. I found this year to be really challenging on my mental health. It has been difficult finding the motivation to keep going through days on days of sitting inside staring at my laptop screen, but I can't beat myself up too much for not being my most productive or best self.
 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to "normal"?

I'm really looking forward to being able to go where I want, when I want! I'm really bad at booking things and keeping to a strict schedule, so I’m excited to be able to just waltz into the Killam again. I'm also looking forward to meeting new people again, but I've definitely lost lots of social skills over the past year so I'm a little worried about how that's going to go...
 

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

Stay in New Zealand!! In retrospect, it would have probably been the best place to ride this whole thing out.

 

 

Drue Mitra, 3rd year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

Halifax; Guelph, ON

What was the most surprising part of the pandemic?

Honestly, I got into new habits and hobbies that I would have never ever have imagined myself being interested in a year ago.

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

I learned that self-development, growth, and peace of mind should outweigh every other priority in your life.

What are you most looking forward to when things return to "normal"?

I would probably say planning outings again. Having things to do on weekends that aren't choosing from a small list of open places. I look forward to seeing how our definitions of fun change in the coming year.

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

I would tell myself to keep looking ahead, because the work I was doing is what kept me motivated through the past year. I would also tell myself to have more faith in myself, be more adaptable, and rely less on the interactions and opinions of other people.

 

 

Catherine Armour, 4th year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

Halifax; Kemptville, ON; Kingston, ON
 

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

One day at a time. My mom has used this phrase for years now to remind me to stay present, but it definitely came in handy this past year. Thinking too far ahead can be overwhelming and as humans, we panic when things are beyond our control. Recognizing that we can never truly decide our future and sitting with the discomfort of that feeling has allowed me to accept it and enjoy the moments that we exist in.
 

Did you learn anything new about yourself this year, or try something you never thought you would do?

This year I started taking the lessons I learned from my eating disorder and putting them to use. The pandemic gave me time to emotionally come to terms with my experience and gain the strength to share it and help others.
 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to "normal"?

Being able to travel in and out of the province easily. In my first three years, I was lucky enough to get visits from a number of my Ontarian family and friends. I really enjoyed having them in Halifax and getting to show them around the place I love! Oh, and I'm excited for weekends at the market again.
 

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that maaaany plans for the next year will fall through all at once, but new, unpredicted opportunities will take their place.

 

 

Leeanne Richardson, 4th year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

Halifax; Bridgewater, NS
 

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

The biggest lesson I learned was to reach out for help and to connect with others (even when you have to stay six feet apart and/or quarantine).
 

Did you learn anything new about yourself this year, or try something you never thought you would do?

I learned how much I needed to step back from my hectic life and rest. I hadn’t realized how far I had pushed myself. This prompted me actually do something about my mental health.
 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to "normal"?

Being able to go out with friends again and returning to campus.
 

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

Even though things are going to go downhill for a while, you will come back stronger and better for it. Also, keep a steady sleep schedule!

 

 

Phoebe Knight, 4th year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

Toronto; Halifax

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

The biggest lesson I've learned is that everything can change in the blink of an eye. It has encouraged me to live more presently and express gratitude for whatever I have in the current moment, because we've witnessed firsthand that we can lose all the things we take for granted without warning.

Were there any bright spots or upsides?

I went home to Toronto as soon as Dal shut down in March 2020 and stayed there until August. It was surprisingly very nice to get to spend all of that time with my family. It was the first time in eight years that we've all lived under the same roof for more than three weeks!

Did you learn anything new about yourself this year, or try something you never thought you would do?

I struggled more severely with my mental health over the summer than I ever had before in my life. While that was a terrible experience and I very much would have preferred that it didn't happen, it led me to finding a great therapist, getting the help I needed, and now I can honestly say I'm the happiest I can ever remember being.

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

I would try to reassure myself that everything is going to be fine. It feels like the world is ending and, yes, Covid-19 is a massive tragedy, but we are resilient beings who are able to adapt to change no matter how big.

 

 

Ariel McDonald, 4th year



Where have you been located during the pandemic?

Toronto; Halifax
 

What was the most surprising part of the pandemic?

I'm still surprised by how long we've been at this. What was supposed to be two weeks at home turned into a year so quickly.
 

Did you learn anything new about yourself this year, or try something you never thought you would do?

I'm a lot more resilient than I thought I was. That and planning a virtual dance showcase, which was never something I thought I'd be doing.
 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to "normal"?

Facial expressions. Masks are so important right now, but I really miss seeing people's smiles.
 

If you could go back to your past self a year ago, what would you tell them?

It's OK if you feel more burnt out than usual, uninspired or low. Don't compare yourself to others and just do the best you can. That is more than enough.