Boston-area students reflect on pandemic

A BU student exits the Rafik B. Hariri building. Photo by Matteo Venieri/BU News Service

By Jenny Kornreich, Kaitlyn Riggio and Anoushka Shah
BU News Service

Students at colleges and universities around the world have lived with their new normal for the last pandemic-dominated year. From online classes, to campus activities that incorporate social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing and COVID-19 testing, college life has been transformed. 

Here’s a look at how three students in the Boston area faced the unexpected challenges.

Vrithik Mehta, 21 
Junior at Babson College, from Mumbai, India 

Vrithik Mehta, a junior at Babson College originally from Mumbai, India, said that everything changed when he was forced to leave the United States in the middle of spring semester last year. 

Mehta found remote learning to be challenging for many reasons. The 10-and a-half-hour time difference between Boston and Mumbai was affecting his lifestyle and health. As a result, Mehta returned to Boston at the beginning of the 2021 spring semester.

Although the pandemic persists in the United States, Mehta said his daily life and activity have not been gravely affected. However, Mehta realizes that even small life changes have had major impacts on his college experience. Most notably, Mehta says he misses socializing with his peers.

However, in the past year, he learned to value his experiences and wants to make the most of his time  studying and living in the U.S. He will complete his degree in the upcoming fall semester. 

Darby Tevlin, 20 
Freshman at Tufts University, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

Darby Tevlin, a first-year student at Tufts University, spent the past year with her family in the Wisconsin suburbs, then on the Tufts campus and now again with her parents. She says that even before she faced personal loss due to the pandemic, the death toll was a looming and ever-present concept in her life.

In April 2020, Tevlin lost her paternal grandmother due to Alzheimer’s. Last month, Tevlin’s paternal grandfather also died, leaving the family to grieve under unprecedented circumstances. 

Despite the ups and downs of life during the pandemic, Tevlin says that COVID-19 has given her time to improve her mental health.

Breanne Frank, 21 
Senior at Boston University from Parker, Colorado

Boston University senior Breanne Frank was planning on spending her 2020 spring break with her partner and her partner’s family. But when lockdown hit in the middle of the break, Frank made the decision to remain with her partner’s family rather than fly back to her home state of Colorado and risk exposing her family to the virus. 

Frank said losing many of the experiences that she was looking forward to for her senior year is “heartbreaking.” 

As the weight of the past year begins to lift and the vaccine distribution effort unfurls, students are wondering how their future schooling and careers will be impacted by the pandemic. Many schools hope to completely reopen for the Fall semester.

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