Growing up, many people look forward to going to college and exploring life to the fullest. For me, I was always eager for those traditional college experiences. Going out to hit the most interesting spots around campus or in the city. Seeing all my pals. Going to sporting events. Partying. Going to class. Honestly, going to the city is a major reason I chose Temple University in Philadelphia. Thankfully, I got to have these experiences for a year and a half before COVID-19 shocked everybody’s system.
As a Temple student, living in the city of Philadelphia with that many people, it became especially scary to leave our apartments. I went from seeing my friends multiple times a week to hardly seeing them at all for fear of somebody having COVID. We all went from going to class five days a week, to sitting in our dark rooms, on our laptops, barely paying attention in virtual class. We went from going to parties and having fun every week to never really leaving the house. Restaurants were pretty much off limits. Concerts were gone. Sporting events were cancelled. Everything that you look forward to in college was taken away from us in what seemed like a millisecond. Honestly, it really sucked.
At first, we did not even want to leave the house. I was thankful to be best friends with my roommates so we didn’t go crazy being stuck inside for so long. Eventually, a select few of our closest friends would come over just to watch movies or hang out. Once people figured out more about this pandemic, we would leave the house with masks just to grab food but that was pretty much the only outside time we really had. Going anywhere became a scary or an anxious experience because of COVID-19. Philly was a ghost-town. It meant a lot of time spent doing work on our laptops or in front of screens with really no escape to the beautiful world outside our door.
From an educational perspective, I missed out on in-person classes and hands-on experience for half of my sophomore year and my entire junior year of college. I also lost the chance for a valuable internship last summer. While Temple did the best that they could, our education during COVID was not what we signed up for. There was no motivation to do anything because we didn’t have enough structure or engagement. If I would leave my room, I’d just go to the living room for a change of scenery. Like many people who have discovered the challenges working remotely, it is hard for me to pay attention to something with so many distractions at home. It is especially difficult to pay attention to something that is the watered-down educational experience that came from having to suddenly move to a remote environment. I’m not trying to rag on Temple University because a lot of my friends from other schools had the same experience, however it needs to be mentioned. It’s maddening that I am going to have to pay school loans for full tuition to a university that I attended on a computer for half of my time at college.
If you bottle all of this up over the course of a year and a half, it equals my motivation to go out and get vaccinated. I really didn’t think twice about getting the vaccine. I wanted my life back. As a family-oriented person, I see my grandparents and great aunts and uncles all the time. I see my little cousins a lot, too. Living as a freshly-turned 21-year-old, I enjoy going out with my friends. Being vaccinated protects me against giving them a potentially deadly virus and makes me feel better about going to see them. It makes me feel better about living my life and being around people again. On top of that, I have a semester of college left so I would really enjoy being able to live a normal college life before I leave Temple for good. Everybody should want to get back to normal, and that is not going to happen if people stay unvaccinated.
The Delta Variant is just making that more clear. I am vaccinated and things are looking pretty good. But for people who aren’t vaccinated, even us young people, this variant means more wrecked weeks and months stretching ahead of them. Delta is more dangerous for all ages, too. Who wants to risk getting long COVID for the rest of their life? No one wants that! Time to get vaccinated!
Let’s do this. I don’t want to waste another year and a half of my life.
Max Troutman is a senior at Temple University. His home is in Mifflinburg, PA