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College Life in the Pandemic's New Normal: Holding on to Gratitude

Alex Gray is a journalism student at Kent State University.

Ohio college students just finished their spring semester that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, schools stopped in-person classes and switched to remote learning, upending campus life.

A Kent State University journalism class spent the week after spring break recording diaries about their experience. Alex Gray discovered two things that helped her cope: Quality time with her mom, and taking quiet drives. 

Cleaning and a nice drive
Coming back from what I guess we can call spring break was much different than I thought it would be. In short, everything is a mess. But we'll see what happens.

I woke up from a week of waking up at 3 p.m. every day and going to bed at 6 o'clock every morning. I got up around 10 a.m. because my mom wanted me to clean around the house. My mom is a very big neat freak. And since it was my first week back in school, I was going to help her clean.

Then I went to go get pizza. My mom ordered pizza earlier today from MOD pizza. It's like what Pizza Fire used to be in Kent but in Illinois. I got to go and just leave the house for the first time in a couple of days, and I got to drive which was nice. Driving may be my favorite thing in the world sometimes, especially now that it's probably the safest thing for me to do if I want to go outside and get some fresh air. So, I blasted the music on the radio, and I just lost myself in it. 

I think that's going be the hardest thing about this: losing myself within different activities and not doing things that I would usually be very much on top of while I was at school.

"I need to hold on to the things that I'm very grateful for, or else I'm really going to just lose myself in this. I'm really grateful for my mom."

Class and group projects
Today was filled with boring, boring and boring.

I still have to get up for class and I live in a different state, so I'm an hour behind. I have to get up earlier than I would have usually, especially now that I'm used to my Central Time Zone. So, everyone's waking up at 9 a.m., and I'm waking up at 8 a.m. But other than that, class was okay. And we have a group project, so I was talking with a bunch of people in my group, which was fun. Thankfully, I'm actually friends with my group members, so it's not the worst thing. We trust each other to get stuff done and get stuff done early. And it's nice.

Hope in the middle of a crisis
I don't really like the fact that everything has been uprooted. Again, I love being home. But I think no matter how much I give myself a routine or do other things that I'm supposed to do, there is still something in the back of my head that just weighs really heavy. And I don't know what that means, but I don't really have time to figure that out. The world's still going. I still have classes. I’ve been hanging out with my mom, listening to the news getting more and more depressed. But I'm always trying to be hopeful. My mom really does help with that. 

An obstacle course to conquer
Today is Thursday and my mom and I finally built an obstacle course, which was really fun and kind of what I think both of us needed. It's kind of just us right now, trying to keep each other afloat.

I think today reminded me that I'm glad I'm not alone in this. I'm glad I decided to go home. I just know that I need to hold on to the things that I'm very grateful for, or else I'm really going to just lose myself in this. I'm really grateful for my mom.

Tomorrow will be better
We finally got the courage to come out of the house and go grocery shopping. We just kind of walked around and hoped no one tried to cough on us, and then we came home. I think closing out on all of this, I can truly say that this is going to be hard for me. But I'm hopeful. And I hope that somehow everything will kind of find its right place. But only time will tell. So, I just have to keep moving and hopefully not just sit in an abyss waiting for this to be over.