By Amy Stephenson

As a 2020 grad of Sir Oliver Mowat, Aline is one of many who didn’t get a classic send-off from high school and is now having a unique experience entering university. Aline is a first-year Accounting & Finance Management student at the University of Waterloo.

While remaining very positive, she admits there have been a lot of struggles and disappointments due to the COVID-19 pandemic response. Hearing her story gives us an eye into how the pandemic has impacted life milestones for a young adult during a time of transition.

What was it like to graduate without prom or a convocation?

“It was a bit upsetting to have worked hard for four years and not have the fun send-off you were hoping for. I loved Mowat and being involved in clubs and teams. I do regret not saying goodbye to my teachers before the never-ending March Break. If I had known that was the end, I may not have gone out for lunch on all my spares. I did feel like I missed out on part of the high school experience without prom or convocation.

“While an online prom was organized to be as fun as it could, it was still upsetting to have missed it. There may be hope for redemption in a reunion.”

How does the transition to first year feel compared to what you had expected?

“I was really hoping to move into residence and start gaining some independence and enjoy Frosh Week. I hope that next year we can join in with next year’s Frosh Week so we can experience going to classes and meeting our peers. They tried to adapt it to online and make things fun but we couldn’t meet new people and make friends. Even my friends that did move in on campus said the experience wasn’t what they had hoped for because of the restrictions.

“I don’t think I would go to residence but am looking forward to moving out at some point.”   

What have you missed because of the pandemic?

“I was looking forward to Frosh Week and while they tried to adapt it to virtual and make it fun it didn’t live up to what I would expect from an in-person experience. I mostly wish I could have met new people and made friends over staying home.”

What opportunities have you gained because of the pandemic?

“In a way, it’s a great opportunity to gain new skills. With asynchronous learning I have a lot more flexibility, which has helped me develop my time management and organization skills. I have gained independence in that way by being accountable for education. I also have a lot of free time on my hands as I’m not commuting or going to clubs. I am taking advantage of the free time to do more things I enjoy: I am learning to play the guitar, walking my dog and going longboarding.

“It’s been fun to connect with other people though Zoom and Team Meetings. I have been able to meet a lot of people and attend events that I might not otherwise have been able to.”

How have you adapted? Is this different than those around you?

“Everyone is going through this in their own way. International students have their own issues. We have a class where we talk about how we are coping. We hear about the strategies others are using. We’re all struggling but coping in our own way. It has been really great to connect and bond with others through these common struggles.

“My own strategy is every Sunday I set up my study schedule. I put in a max of 90 minutes per subject, which helps me keep a schedule so that I don’t end up spending all my time on one subject.”