I like many others stepped into university, all prepped and geared for my second year as an international student. “This semester will be loaded”, I distinctly remember saying those words to myself; with more interesting units, new friends, and the inclusion in university events, I was excited to make many memories. And right now as I sit on my bed in my house, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over my failed plans, for coronavirus clearly had other plans for Earth’s whopping 7.8 billion humans.

initially, the spread of coronavirus didn’t give me a cause to panic, why should I panic? I’m young, I drink my cup of milk every day, my immunity is not compromised with, I’m ok! But as my university closed its gates, nobody in my vicinity was seen without a mask, and the grocery stores were stripped of all essentials, that is when it hit me, this was not a joke. I packed my bags and ran off to my relatives’ home, for a sense of security, it was either this or staying alone in a home with absolutely no human interaction.

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to rise and affect countries all around the world, it is both horrifying and fascinating to see everything slow down, for this is something many millennials are not used to. Empty streets, ‘jail-like’ conditions, no more clubbing and beach visits, life has taken a dramatic change. Initially, I was not the happiest person when it came to social distancing and self-isolation; I mean that is what I do on a daily basis but not when I’m instructed to! After an extent even Netflix seemed boring, the coronavirus memes became repetitive and I had called up long-lost friends already. It was depressing to be in the confines of a house on a sunny day, and watching the deplorable state of countries like Italy made it worse; what did we do to receive this punishment?

It began to change when I watched a news special on the condition of medical workers in Lombardy, Italy, and how they were battling the virus at the risk of their own lives for inhuman hours. Their faces were tired, some looked like they were on the verge of a breakdown, but nobody was ready to give up. It may have been a sign or an epiphany, but I thought about myself, sitting on a sofa in a big house, having just eaten dinner, with people around me. I could not help but wonder what made me so negative when I should have considered myself lucky. It was then when I decided that positivity is the one thing that I will keep in my mind throughout this. Here are a few things I learnt in these few days:

-Mother Earth takes over; it was humbling to see how years and years of human destruction slowly began to cease once we were shut indoors. Decreased pollution levels, wildlife strolling about the land that was snatched away by us, oceans being frequented by marine life, Covid showed us that nothing can withstand the power of Mother Nature.

-Health over wealth; I read somewhere on social media that people are taking coronavirus seriously because it doesn’t discriminate between rich or poor, nobody is immune to it. And it is partially true, people dying of hunger, poverty and such issues have never received so much focus as compared to coronavirus. It makes us realise that the money in your bank account may not always save you from circumstances, a healthy body and mind should be everyone’s priority.

-After a point when technology also saturated me, I found solace in my books, paintings and pictures. Being a bookworm since childhood, I had carried some of my favourite books to university only to leave them on a dusty bookshelf. In these few days, I have devoured the books and reclaimed my long lost love for reading, writing, and things that gave me happiness in childhood. I also found time to do a super-tough 1000-pieces puzzle. Stepping away from Instagram and Netflix helped me rediscover hobbies that I loved as a kid, and I hope to never let go of them again!

-Messages from old school friends and long-lost acquaintances filled my inboxes and for the first time in ages, there were no excuses about time differences, other commitments or meetings. We had hour-long conversations about the good, the bad, old memories and catchups on each others’ lives. Promising to keep more in touch, I realised the value of relationships, even ones I thought wouldn’t matter much to me. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, certain relationships take the backseat in our list of priorities, but once they are refreshed it’s a feeling like no others!

-Humans, as well as the Earth, got a chance to slow down and breathe. I started appreciating the skies in the evening, time spent with my family, and much-needed me-time! I agree, there are a lot of things to worry about at this point, one cannot be blindly positive. But in a time when ninety percent of news channels give us negative news, it takes a toll on our mental health. When we slow down and start appreciating life, staying at home is no more confinement.

It’s hard to say how the world will be once this passes, will this current lifestyle become our new ‘normal’, will we go back to our old ways in a matter of time, nobody knows. And even though Covid-19 has given us many reasons to be unhappy about, there will always be at least one reason to be happy about, let’s cling on to those rays of hope in a time of darkness!