December 9, 2020

DELGADO | Quarantine Chronicles: Five Takeaways from a Remote Semester

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A new era of social isolation has brought with it a plethora of alterations to society and individuals’ way of life. People have coped with these challenges in various ways, surmounting unimaginable obstacles. Here’s five lessons I have learned from my home-bound semester during the pandemic. 

  1. Camaraderie is mankind’s gateway to survival

During my academic career, I have found my most memorable and exciting moments to be when working within a team. At these moments, my effort and my share of the work no longer affects only me, but a group greater than myself. Each member upholds a different role, and each of our contributions matters, and is imperative to, our ultimate  goal. To realize our aims, my team and I have had to band together, trusting  and empathizing with one another. 

This year, rife with numerous challenges, has only proved camaraderie and teamwork to be all the more important. Whether for a team of health professionals in an ICU wing, store workers on Thanksgiving weekend or our society at large, togetherness is indispensable.Our capacity to forge bonds — albeit socially distant, masked, and behind plexi-glass — still prevails: When I walk into Wegmans, I can’t help but wonder about the lives of those who pass me by. Do they have families at home? Have they been laid off this year? Has someone they know died from COVID? I am encouraged to take their safety all the more seriously and feel a sense of shared responsibility for my hometown’s wellbeing.

  1. Cornell is home 

Sweaty 7:15 a.m. journeys up the 480 foot long, steep monster known as Libe Slope. Trillium’s famously prepared quesadillas with two scoops of guacamole. Happy Dave’s unforgettable smile, brightening any Cornellian’s day. The beauty of Cornell’s nature-filled campus. I truly miss it all. And it seems I’m not alone: A group of 1,000 Cornellians formed their own Minecraft community — CornellCraft — bringing Cornell home with them.

It’s a bittersweet moment for me: my time on Cornell’s campus may have been cut short, but the memories are everlasting. Long after I graduate, Cornell will still be a part of me, a community that extends beyond the campus itself; likewise, for those studying remotely this fall and/or next spring, I hope they too can tap into Cornell’s community in their own unique way.

  1. Engaging in enjoyable habitual activities supports mental health

Sometimes being at home can be monotonous and dull. But I’ve found myself growing accustomed to life at home, finding pleasure in and falling into the rhythm of my daily tasks. Time at home has also afforded me a chance to renew old habits and develop new ones.

I’ve rekindled my love for meditation and yoga, two mainstays of my highschool career, which have taught me to slow down and reflect. I’ve dedicated more time to caring for my childhood pets (as my previous columns can attest). Although these may not seem significant, they’ve given me both the stability and space to think about myself outside of academics. They’ve allowed me to develop a sense of individuality, hobbies and interests that define me beyond my GPA. 

Similarly, I’ve cultivated some new hobbies. I’ve spent more time practicing my photography, creating opportunities to look at my surroundings through a new lens and capture the present. I’ve made a point to regularly cook dinner for my parents, often exhausted from long days at work. As a result, I’ve developed, what feels like a more authentic form of self-confidence through which I can both take time for myself and help others. It’s been energizing, and I’ve gained greater appreciation for the mundaneness of ‘at home’.

  1. Parenting is brutal

Caring for two rambunctious three-year-old twins and a baby sister that exposes mommy’s favoritism has truly been exhausting. It’s hard enough taking care of myself, but three loving, yet tireless, siblings are all the more demanding. Aside from the fact that I definitely don’t want kids right now, it has taught me to value these fleeting, temporary moments with my family. 

To my mother and stepfather, and all other parents around the globe who took in their college-aged kids after the nest was empty, thank you for everything you continue to provide for us. 

  1. Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are 

Although this quote, popularly attributed to President Teddy Roosevelt, dates back to the early 20th century, its meaning remains relevant today. Limited travel, social interactions, indoor restaurant shutdowns, lockdowns: We’ve had to abruptly overhaul much of our lives, from new norms to new social standards, this year. With that comes the challenge of adapting and adjusting when we can, with what we’ve got, where we are. However, battling through an unprecedented era truly demonstrates our resilience to proceed when times are tough. 

Each of us has been plunged into a new “normal.” The financial difficulties and societal struggles consequent of COVID-19’s spread have changed how people operate on a daily basis. It has been — and will continue to be — mentally draining to complete the daily tasks at hand. Believe in your abilities and self-worth, for these will get you and your community through whatever obstacles lay in wait.

Canaan Delgado is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at cdelgado@cornellsun.com. ¿Que pasa? runs alternate Wednesdays this semester.