It was the day of 17 March 2020 when we all received the e-mail that the university would be shutting down classes immediately and everyone would have to leave within a couple of days for their home. I am a very optimistic person and try to see the positive side of things in every situation. So, I instantly started to think that I finally had time to finish reading some books and experiment with some new recipes. This is all I could think of, without really anticipating that Covid-19-related restrictions could last months. Thanks to my friends, I did not feel any anxiety during all these months. It was during this time of Covid-19-related restrictions that we all celebrated my 20th birthday. I also changed my outlook and grew a beard (my mom still thinks I look like a demon).
We were lucky to be in Atlantic Canada, where the impact of the pandemic was not that harsh compared to some other parts of the world. After finishing our exams, I worked full-time and travelled the iconic Cabot Trail with our bubble family. I will never forget the island’s iconic beauty and me sleeping in the car and sometimes missing to see a spot (rumor was that my caffeine levels were too low). I also went jet skiing in Halifax for the first time in my life. Viewing Halifax from the water on a jet ski is certainly a pleasant experience that I will never forget in my entire lifetime. We also traveled to Prince Edward Island in September which has given me unforgettable memories for life.
It was during this time when I was elected as the International Students Representative at the U – StFX Students Union. We had our virtual meetings because of the physical distancing restrictions during summer. We discussed students' issues and the waiver as well. I bet those three-hour long meetings never felt like they were that long. The council is very friendly and a great team to work with. I feel extremely lucky that I got a chance to serve the community in such difficult times, and that is unique by itself. Understanding the importance of health care, I led the campaign for international students to get their Health Card. Additionally, we also successfully celebrated Diwali (the Indian festival of lights) with a dinner in Morrison Hall. I thank everyone who came. My goals for the upcoming year are to be a better person. I am starting the year with great enthusiasm. One big goal is to be a good listener and feminist.
I worked at McDonalds Antigonish during the summer, where I received a scholarship of $350 for my work and academic achievements, and the management also promoted me to team leader.
However, unlike many of our friends who went back at the start of the pandemic, we were thousands of miles away from our family during the pandemic and worried about them. But our parents were strong, and that gave us hope. I too had some weak moments, but it was hope and a positive outlook that kept me going.
[Dhruv Patel, a second year BaSc (Health) student, is the International Students Representative at the U – StFX Students Union]