Sharing our stories

One year after the Covid-19 lockdown

One year ago today, many of us said goodbye to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) for what we thought would only be two weeks. Now we are a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and are still unsure when we will make a full return to campus.

Everyone has had a unique experience with Covid-19 and it had a major impact on all of our lives. The Lutrinae reached out to the CSUMB community to hear their thoughts and experiences from the past year. 

Sydney Brown

The Lutrinae editor-in-chief, 4th-year HCOM 

“Living through a pandemic makes time feel extremely slow and nonexistent at the same time. When we were first sent home, the days would drag on, but before I knew it, it was Fall 2020. 

“Sitting at home in virtual classes has been awfully difficult. I’m an avid conversator in class and I miss the easygoing, fluid discussions my classmates and I would have in person. I miss having my own space living in the dorms, I miss my friends and most of all, I miss the beach! It was a big struggle to be sent back to my parents house as a newly jobless individual. (I worked on campus at Monte’s, so there was no work left for me.)

“Before quarantine, most days I was only in my dorm when getting dressed, sleeping or doing homework – I was always on the go, whether I was in class, at work or hanging out with friends. When I sheltered-in-place at home, I wasn’t used to being inside and being alone. It left me with a broken heart. I could no longer distract myself from my own negative thoughts by going out. So I would think and think, and criticize myself and long to be back on campus. I became stuck in this state of mind for months, which was excruciating. But, quarantine offered me a lot of time to focus on healing, too. 

“After a certain period of time, I decided to try my best to get out of my head. Because I had so much new time on my hands, I started new, fun hobbies and learned a lot about what I like to do, not just what classes I like to take. I was able to read new books, learn how to do yoga, bake new goodies and start journaling, which helped me stop thinking negatively. 

“It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since the pandemic began. It feels like it’s been decades. Every day is different, and every day I have to focus on keeping afloat. But all in all, I am so grateful to be alive in this time of panic and pain, and I’m glad of all the lessons I’ve learned over this year.” 

Arianna Nalbach

The Lutrinae production manager, 2nd-year communication design

“A year ago today I left my dorm at CSUMB and went home to Southern California for the two week break before our return to campus. Only a few days later, on my birthday, I received an email from the school that we would be going online for the rest of the semester and if we wanted to get a partial refund for housing, we had to have everything moved out by the 23rd. 

“I was so excited for the Spring 2020 semester, I had just become the president of Design Studio and was loving all of my classes so far. I was beyond disappointed when I discovered the remainder of the semester was going to be online. I had an easy enough time adjusting to being fully online, but I missed my friends, boyfriend and being in Monterey. 

“Going into Fall 2020, I struggled to find the motivation for school. My grades slipped and I heavily considered dropping out of college. I made it through the semester okay, but I continue to face the same problems in the current semester. 

“I have managed to keep myself on track overall and have found new hobbies and interests during this past year. I built a computer and I’ve started drawing again. I still keep in touch with my friends through Discord and we’ve found ways to still spend time together even if we can’t see each other.

“Things have been difficult, but I am continuing to remain hopeful for when the pandemic is finally over and we can return to campus. I have found a new appreciation for things I used to take for granted before the start of the pandemic, like seeing my friends and going out places.”

Cassidy Ulery 

The Lutrinae assistant editor, 3rd-year HCOM

“Experiencing life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has been emotionally draining. In January 2020 before the shutdown, I was on cloud nine. Having recently moved into the promontory apartments at CSUMB, I was about to embark into my junior year of college and my hard work at community college paid off, transferring into one of my dream schools. 

“Fast forward two months and the world seemingly stops. Classes move into a virtual format, dining services are suspended and students have a matter of days to move out. Once home, sheltering-in-place is mandatory, visits with friends cease to exist, routinely acts of shopping, running errands or eating out become punishable and reality grasps a chokehold of depression.  

“The inner-battle of feeling cheated from a college experience looms, while I fight off those negative thoughts and continue to do my part in helping slow the spread. Slowly, as restrictions loosened, I began utilizing the outdoors as an escape from the four walls of my room. I would walk or ride my bike to a local rose garden – making sure to keep my distance from others – and I would sit and read for hours. Soaking up the sun rays felt majestic and allowed my skin to flourish in vitamin D. 

“Ultimately, the sun rays only revitalize so much. The longing to return to ‘normal,’ still presents itself, however, I have started to see glimmers of hope in society once more. I can’t express enough gratitude for the healthcare workers, the essential businesses who stayed open and the community members who proactively protect each other by wearing masks.”

Anna Stubler

The Lutrinae webmaster, 4th year communication design 

“Last year at this time I was probably the happiest I had been in awhile. I had great friends, was living in a beautiful place, and was taking classes I really enjoyed with passionate teachers that inspired me. On March 13, 2020, I drove home from my dorm and my life at CSUMB.

“One year later I drove through a deserted campus after a trip to get a vaccine for the virus that had shuttered the school a year earlier. The empty school brought back memories of things we still won’t be able to do for a while now. Jenga with friends during welcome back week, swimming in the pool on the weekends,and studying with friends between classes in their dorms.

“Throughout the pandemic I have experienced a range of emotions. From despair to anger to unexpected joys. I have become closer to people and more distant from others. Each day, week and month has been a rollercoaster.

“I cannot truly say if I have grown from the experience in some way. I would like to think I have learned something, but mainly I think I learned how much my home in Monterey and the community there meant to me.”

Breanna Peterson

The Lutrinae staff writer, 3rd year HCOM

“There’s no other way to describe 2020 than heartbreaking. The year started out with me losing my hard-earned community college graduation. Then I learned that after six years of long, hard work before I transferred, I would be online for the 2020-2021 school year. 

“I lost time with my grandmother who has dementia. When it’s safe to see her again she likely won’t remember who I am. I lost three members of my family to COVID-19 and also struggled with it myself. However, I also spent a lot of quality time with my family and I had food to eat and a roof over my head, so for that I am grateful. My parents are fully vaccinated and for that I am grateful as well. 

“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I hope that people continue to take this illness seriously, continue safety protocols, and get vaccinated when possible. I also hope that we can collectively grieve the time, milestones, and many lives lost during this horrible time. I hope that we can all heal.”

Nikki Dodd

The Lutrinae staff writer, 3rd-year HCOM

“The last year has been a blur to say the least. Experiencing my first full-fledged pandemic and shutdown was a culture shock to not only myself, but everyone around me. It has changed me. 

“Spring 2020 was my first semester at CSUMB after transferring in from Hartnell. I was so excited to be going to a university. I went in ready to open myself up to a whole new world, make new friends and finally get that college experience I longed for. Then everything changed, not only was my new school shut down but the hotel I worked for did too. I was at a stand still completely lost. It was then I realized the world was being paused. 

“I am fortunate that I did not have to pack up and travel home since I am a local, but my heart ached for my fellow Otters and students around California who were scrambling. I kept telling myself, ‘it’s just two weeks.’ Now a year later I have had a lot of time to reflect while being confined to my house and slowly accepting the new ‘normal.’ 

“I am saddened my last semester is more than likely to be online, but I would much rather know everyone is safe and vaccinated before we all enter a classroom together. I hold hope for a day we are all able to gather again with our friends and family. We are all deserving of one big party after this and to remember to never take advantage of life.” 

Sara Gobets

The Lutrinae advisor, HCOM professor

“Roughly a year ago I was opening my community journalism class with our usual discussion about current events. Since the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, mention of a new virus had permeated this section of the course. First it was a troubling new illness affecting a region in China, then developing into a pandemic spreading rapidly through a few more countries causing a disease with a name seemingly plucked out of a dystopian sci-fi novel (COVID-19), and finally as a plague knocking at our doorstep.

“I took a poll within the class to gauge the comfort level of everyone continuing to show up on campus. The majority no longer felt it was a safe environment so we decided that would be our last in-person meeting and I began to plot how I would transition the course to run completely on iLearn. When we left the classroom I noticed some within the next wave of students for the subsequent class wiping down the desks before they sat down. Little did I realize what a familiar sight constant sanitation would be in my daily life.

“It quickly became apparent what was initially conceived as a few-week break would stretch on longer. I marked the end of August as my earliest predicted date for life to return to normal – let it never be suggested I’m a pessimist.

“For many people, the trauma of 2020 seems to have easily eclipsed all tough years that preceded it. The loss we’ve all faced is too immeasurable to convey in a few words. It is my sincerest hope we all emerge from this time wearing the scars of this pandemic like a badge of honor and as a reminder to never again take for granted shaking a stranger’s hand, visiting a loved one’s home, or hugging a friend.”

While it will still be a long time before society truly returns to ‘normal,’ we have adapted to this unprecedented time and banded together through one of the hardest years any of us have lived through. The future remains uncertain, but with the vaccines coming out, we will find a new sense of normality. 

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