Reporter Column: This year has been different

Reporter Column

Nicole Hansen, Intern

This year has been different. That’s an understatement, isn’t it? For me, it started at a party in Milwaukee. Not to be dramatic, or premonitive, but after the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, it seemed as though everything that could’ve gone wrong, did go wrong. This trend, of course, has continued throughout the year. 

I am a Senior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the introduction of Covid-19 had a pretty immediate effect on my classes. About halfway through the second semester of my Junior year, everything went online. For some classes, this meant professors decided that they could give more work, while others eliminated a lot of what they were going to have us do, likely for the benefit of everyone’s mental health. To my surprise, I found this change to be much easier than expected. However, it was actually this semester that has thrown me off the most, as there was no normalcy to start off the beginning of classes. You know that shift from winter break or summer, where you have to start getting up, getting ready, and actually walk to classes? That no longer exists. And we did not have that shift to get used to classes this semester, which has affected my sense of motivation and tested my time-management skills more than I had ever expected. It is also frustrating to be attending college at this time, as it feels as though you are paying to teach yourself and you can’t help but feel like you got cheated out of many college experiences that you will never have the opportunity to make up for in the future. It also does not help that we are still paying for these hypothetical experiences, as tuition and segregated fees are still being paid in full, despite the fact that we are doing everything online.

Once Covid-19 hit Wisconsin, I also lost the Human Resources Internship that I had. Apart from my mourning of the loss of free tea provided by this company, this was incredibly stressful as a college student since internships are so important for getting hired after graduation. Ever since then, finding an internship or job has been a seemingly impossible task. There are few available positions posted online and some employers seem to no longer be providing the nicety of a rejection, instead opting for radio static. I was lucky enough to find this internship position, for which I am very grateful. 

As Covid-19 has caused so many changes throughout this year, the issues of racism and police brutality have proven to be unaffected. Therefore, as a result of the racist attitudes that still inflict our nation, this summer was filled with clashes between protestors fighting for equality and the police. While I stayed inside due to the nature of the pandemic, I could see and hear these protests from my apartment windows. Looking around downtown Madison, you can still see many of the artifacts as a result of these demonstrations, such as murals painted on boarded windows. 

Gloom and doom aside, I think there are also some good things that we have gotten out of this pandemic. I have learned how to actively make time for people, including myself. Before, this seemed to happen naturally, but now it is more difficult to find times that work for you and everyone else, and you miss a lot of what happens in other people’s lives by not being able to be around them in person. However, this has made me appreciate talking to loved ones even more. It seems as though the conversations that I have with people have gotten deeper and more meaningful. Instead of asking someone how they are and them just replying “good”, they actually talk about what is going on in their lives. 

Going outside has also been something that I have come to appreciate a lot more. While I am pretty cautious about taking risks during the pandemic, a walk down State Street is always refreshing and grounding. It seems strange that this is a thing that I need to actively make time to do, as this occurred daily before. 

Innovation and adaptation seem to have become the main themes of this year. Covid-19 requiring us to work from home means that technology had to become an even larger part of our lives. While this has been great for the production of new and better technologies, there is already this expectation of always being available that comes with technology. This can cause more stress now that it is the main, and sometimes, only way to communicate with loved ones. With this in mind, take it easy on yourself and others. Try to be understanding of people who are not able to adapt as easily.

On a side note, has anyone else had their sleep schedule thrown off once or twice by this quarantine? I’ve always been a night owl, so maybe that’s just me, but it seems as though not having to physically go to work, classes, or be able to go out and see people has messed with my circadian rhythms. Also, what is an outfit these days? I often find it difficult to get out of my pajamas and put on what my uncle calls, “civilian clothes”, when I am just getting up to attend an online lecture that we do not need our cameras on for. I think that this lack of routine has contributed to a lot of the stress, frustration, and time-management issues many people have been dealing with.