Introduction and interview by Caroline Skou, Holy Cross '20
As the COVID-19 has developed over the course of the past months, weeks, and days, many of our plans have changed. We have found ourselves moving back into our childhood bedrooms, dusting off the webcam on our laptops, and beginning to accept our new normal. For this installment of our Class of MMXX series, I interviewed Carrie, a senior from the University of Virginia who’s new normal comes with a 12-hour time difference, and growing uncertainty about her future.
"I interviewed Carrie, a senior from the University of Virginia who’s new normal comes with a 12-hour time difference, and growing uncertainty about her future."
Carrie, could you walk us through how you found out about your school closing, where you were, what the first thing you thought?
Since I'm from Singapore, I believe I have been aware about what the corona virus was already doing back in January more so than most Americans; for my family was going through everything 3 months prior to what people are going through in the US now. So my family had warned me and I had suspected that it would reach Europe and then the Americas, therefore I was sort of prepared. I knew the chances of UVA closing and cancelling classes was very high, I just assumed it would happen a lot later than it did, and also with more warning. UVA told us about cancelling classes and moving those classes online during what was our Spring Break. I had personally not even gone on Spring Break because I knew the risks and suspected it months before and therefore chose not to buy tickets nor make plans.
The first thing I thought was that this was the smart thing to do. However, the first thing I felt was sadness and worry - I didn't want them to cancel graduation, nor did I want to lose the chance of my last two months at the university.
So when I found out about school closing I was in Charlottesville at my apartment. The first thing I thought was that this was the smart thing to do. However, the first thing I felt was sadness and worry - I didn't want them to cancel graduation, nor did I want to lose the chance of my last two months at the university. I wanted to be able to make the most of my time before I graduated and to treasure my friends and experience at the university. And I feared losing all of that. And we did, when they cancelled the rest of the semester and postponed graduation. I didn't get to say goodbye to the majority of my friends, and my parents made me come back to Singapore immediately for fear that flights and borders would become even more unpredictable and I would end up stuck in the US.
By moving home, I can imagine you have been affecting you both academically and socially. Could you elaborate on how so?
Well, socially, obviously, I haven't seen anyone outside of my household since I've gotten back to Singapore. Academically is another question, especially because of the 12 hour time difference. It is hard for me to zoom call into class, for my classes would have me awake from 12:30 to 3am and 3am to 6am every Tuesday through Thursday. So my participation grade will suffer if I do not manage to wake up or stay up; and being nocturnal is incredibly inconvenient.
UVA did provide an option to have classes graded pass/fail; however I want my grades especially since they've been in the A's so far, for it would benefit my GPA which would benefit chances for grad school. Unfortunately, and I think I am not the only student feeling this, motivation is incredibly low. It's hard to work as we would work in university in our home environments; for our brains and bodies are not adjusted to that routine. Also, it's a pandemic! We've got enough to worry about being safe and staying afloat in this trying time with health and the economy. Having to worry about grades as well makes the situation a lot tougher.
And are you worried about how the virus is going to affect the beginning of your career? Have you changed any of your future plans since college has ended early?
This, selfishly enough, is what I am most worried about. I had hopes to work in London or even DC, but now that is not possible. For the economy is hard hit and no company will be looking to sponsor visas at this point in time; in fact, most of them are letting go of their employees. I think it'll be a lot harder for the Class of 2020 and anyone else looking for a job and to start their career in this time to find a job, well paying or not. This is why I am really hoping to get into grad school at this point. Because even finding a job in Singapore might be hard - but it isn't as hard hit with unemployment as the US for the Singaporean government, society and economy is a lot more efficiently run than those of the US so we aren't as hard hit with lack of jobs and unemployment rates.
I think it'll be a lot harder for the Class of 2020 and anyone else looking for a job and to start their career in this time to find a job, well paying or not.
What's the first thing you're going to do when quarantine is over?
I am going to go to the beach with my friends, go clubbing and dancing, go to restaurants and enjoy all my favourite meals, and, if I have enough money, I am going to travel! Never again will I take the outdoors, the sun or travelling for granted. Safe to say that I recognise my privilege, to be in a safe environment and with family, and to be financially stable enough not to worry, and I hope this all passes soon; and that when it does, society sees the flaws in its system and strives to help those most hard hit.
Safe to say that I recognise my privilege, to be in a safe environment and with family, and to be financially stable enough not to worry, and I hope this all passes soon