The Coronavirus Pandemic: Emily’s Story:
About the Author:
“My name is Emily and I am from Coral Springs, Florida. I just recently graduated from Florida State University with my bachelors in psychology and a minor in biology. I’m currently in the process of applying to medical school and I have an extreme desire to help others which is shown through my research, volunteer work, and clinical experience.”
College & Jobs:
Q: Describe your everyday life before the pandemic hit. Include social aspects such as school, work, extracurricular activities, and other things.
A: Before the pandemic, I was a senior at Florida State University, I lived in an apartment with my three best friends, I went to school full-time, and I worked two jobs. The first job was for a law firm called, “Panza Maurer”, and that was two days a week, eight-hour days, and I was in office all day due to doing anything they needed… my title was a “Runner”. My second job was a waitress/bartender at a beer and wine bar called, “McGowan’s Hops and Grapes”. [It was] a great place. I loved it, and I worked there around 20 hours a week too. My school life is extremely hectic. I am a pre-med student and I ended up graduating with my bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in biology. I basically have a minimum of 20 hours of schoolwork a week and I’m interning and shadowing at different places, trying to get my resume filled so that I can apply to medical school, and I’m actually doing that this summer.
Reaction to the Coronavirus & a Cancelled Trip:
Q: Describe how you initially reacted to COVID-19 and the social distancing.
A: My initial reaction… I honestly didn’t understand the extent of the actions that were being put in place. I didn’t understand why everything was being cancelled and I’m supposed to be on my senior year of spring break trip. I was extremely angry about the situation, to be honest. But, after hearing everything that everyone’s saying, between the TV and the government, I now understand the severity of the situation and the necessary precautions that are being taken place.
Q: What is the senior year of spring break trip that you mentioned?
A: So I have a group of about fifteen girls from my sorority and we were all planning on going to Key West for spring break, for our senior year trip. We booked it in January. We had all the hotels booked, we were all meeting in our one friend’s house that lives in Key Largo, and we were all gonna drive down for four days and have a good time, but the day before I got down there, they actually had to cancel our hotel room and everything in Key West ended up shutting down… it stinks… And I was literally getting in the car, ready to go, then it was cancelled.
Q: And what about the social distancing? How did you react to that?
A: Again, I was initially like, “What is this?”. I was anxious and not at all understanding what was going on, and kind of thought it was a joke at first, until I was in a restaurant and half the tables were closed and I was like, “This is actually happening… this is real”. And then, I ended up hearing everything on the news, listening to the things the government is saying, and now I understand the precautions that are currently taking place, and why… Seeing everyone with masks on at the grocery store was the weirdest thing for me at first, and now it’s scary, because this is the new normal.
A Complete 360 & Culture Shock:
Q: In what ways did your life and schedule change as a result of the coronavirus?
A: As a result of the coronavirus, my life did like a complete 360. Like I said, I was a senior at Florida State University, living in my own apartment… living my entire life across the state of Florida, and when all this happened, I had to move home. I ended up having a virtual graduation… that was actually really sad, and it wasn’t even remotely an option. I understand why, but after four years of hard work, it was really upsetting. I also have different places I go to when I’m shadowing and intern—those places I’m not able to go to at the moment, and that’s some of the stuff that I really enjoy doing. I know people normally say they have a hobby, but I would have to say that my shadowing and my interning were kind of my hobbies and the in-person aspect of them was taken away. I do enjoy that, at Different Brains now, we are doing the virtual interaction, but I do miss the in-person interaction. Lastly, I was supposed to begin a new position, working, in order to build my resume work in the medical community, and that has come to a pause as well.
Q: What have you had to do in order to adapt to these circumstances?
A: I had to basically learn how to do school completely online because it was in the middle of my spring semester and I ended up back home. I felt like I had to teach myself the information, which was a little frustrating. That was one of the main things that was the hardest for me. Also, I’m very independent. I try not to take any money from my parent, which is why I worked so many jobs at FSU. Not having any money of my own or working for my own money, that kind of was a big culture shock for me too, because that’s one thing I really pride myself on. Living at home was kind of weird too, after not living there for a very long time, and now my parents are guardians to a two-year-old baby. I’ve never lived with a baby before and now I am, so that’s very different as well.
Q: What coping mechanisms are you using to deal with these strange times?
A: I think my main coping mechanism is, 1) I’ve been trying to take all of my extra free time and turn it into something positive. I’ve been trying to do a lot of studying for my upcoming MCAT, which is the standardized test required for medical school admission and one of the criteria that you are assessed on. I’ve been trying to do a lot of research and positive things as well so I can work my brain while I’m at home. Also, I’ve been doing a lot of exercise because I do get a little bit of anxiety when I’m in the house at all times. I like going for runs outside, my new favorite thing is rollerblading, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, and stuff like that.
Life Lessons & Advice:
Q: What have you learned about yourself and the world around you as a result of these circumstances?
A: These circumstances have actually helped me… I feel like they brought back the basics such as not being so consumed with all the things I was doing before and being more focused on my family and on my close friends, and the things that are more important in life. For the world around me, I feel like the environment itself, just by everyone not being out, has taken a turn for the best. I also think that people need to really respect what we’re being told and not be selfish about the situation.
Q: What advice would you give to someone like yourself that’s dealing with these same situations?
A: My best advice would be to just take this extra time you do have and always remember you’re doing something to better yourself and better others. Personally, with my situation, I’ve been trying to give things to keep my brain exercised and refreshed, and to put me in a better position when this is all over. I also think there’s other things that you can do for other people, like if you’re someone who is like me, who really likes helping others, there’s a whole bunch of different places where volunteers are still being accepted, like food shelters, clothing shelters,… all these different things you can do to help other people and ultimately, make this situation a little bit better.
Story by: Emily
Transcribed by: Julia Futo
Interviewed on: May 17th, 2020
Julia Futo was born on August 5th, 1999, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She faced difficulties early on in life with trying to perform everyday tasks. Before she was five years old, she was diagnosed with two learning disabilities: Encephalopathy and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). She struggled in school for a long time, but that changed when she took journalism in high school and learned how to become an advocate. She is currently in college and hopes to help others find their voices.