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Nathalie Oei

student

Dear Covid-19, You took so many lives and brought panic across the world and just when we thought the best year of our lives was about to begin. It didn’t take long before you were on everyone’s mind and caused us to worry, but we’ve slowly become desensitised to the severity of this situation. Some nights I’d pray for a perfect miracle solution to all these, but you’re not so easy to escape. Though I wish we never met, I’m more grateful that you didn’t hurt anyone I loved and I hope you’ll stop doing so to the millions out there soon. I heard the words “you can do anything you want after A levels are over” a million times as I was studying, and that was perhaps my only motivation to keep going. For a good month after all the gruelling papers, I was really living my best life- travelling with people I love, meeting all my friends to shop and eat and getting an internship in a travel company to fulfil my wanderlust. My anticipated research and planning internship turned into simply helping dejected travellers postpone and cancel their plans, and my unexpected retrenchment gave me an extra 3 months without income as I remained cooped up at home. Suddenly I had all the time in the world in my hands as a blanket of uncertainty wrapped the economy and around many families. It didn’t help that there was a constant online pressure to remain productive despite me having no actual responsibility. As shallow as it sounds while there are people out there struggling to survive, there was an overwhelming amount of disappointment my friends and I could all relate to, after seeing our seniors having so much fun this time of year. We couldn’t wait for our turn in orientation camps, travelling with friends and enjoying the time off studying. We’ve never had 9 full months of holidays before in the last 18 years of school but because of you, everything had to go virtual and so many exciting opportunities were lost so quickly. You turned our cafe dates, outings and house parties into Skype and Zoom calls, home deliveries that cost additional money and now we spend our time together looking at screens instead of each others’ faces. On the flip side, the time spent in isolation has taught me to value things I had taken for granted like real-life interaction, hot food served fresh from restaurant kitchens, spending more time with family, and even sitting on buses and trains without being overly-cautious of someone who coughed (and also, bubble tea). 2020 may have proved to be one of the most difficult years because of your arrival, but I have to constantly remind myself of just how blessed I am to be comfortable in my own home at a time like this. You gave me a much-needed break from the hectic life I was used to, taught me to cope with the thought of being alone after constantly surrounding myself with people, as well as the time to pick up a few new skills I would never have the time to commit to if you hadn’t existed. Although life would be so much better if you just vanished, a part of me believes you were planned by something greater and that you have some sort of purpose for disrupting our lives. A new normal sounds daunting and so much might change from here on, but I hope you’ll leave the world and its people in a better state than before when this all ends.