It has been a little more than a year since the pandemic started, and the world has been deeply affected by this experience. Many of us have experienced unemployment, paying masks and sanitizers in bulk at ridiculously high prices and shortages of everyday materials across the board. In other words, this year has been hard on all of us. Though this year has been difficult for many people, times have been especially turbulent for the graduating class of 2020. 

I was a senior in high school, and just like every senior, I thought my last year of high school would be enjoyable and memorable. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I vividly remember the sky being gloomy, and my best friend and I had decided to skip our last period to go to the popular boba spot, Omomo. We had said our goodbyes to our friends during lunch, only to later realize that it would be our last time seeing them. 

Being part of the class of 2020 was rough. I was unable to experience prom, Senior Week or even a proper graduation ceremony. And although I was unable to enjoy my final days of high school, I thought my first year in college would make up for the loss of my senior year. I was under the impression that everything would be in person 一 however, I was wrong. It was later announced that the entire academic school year would be held online.  

As a first year, I was always told that being a freshman in college would be one of the best experiences of my young adult life. I would get to meet new people, live with complete strangers in a small dorm and experience college parties. However, this traditional, first-year experience was taken away from me. 

Although classes and on-campus events were held online, I tried my best to make the most out of it. As a result, I came up with three goals I wanted to accomplish by the end of my first year. 

My first goal was to make new connections. If I wanted to have a decent freshman year, I had to convince myself to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people through different types of on-campus activities and organizations in order to salvage my freshman year. Luckily, I was able to find my group of friends and make new connections through these on campus organizations. 

My second goal was to achieve a 4.0 GPA. Throughout high school, I was never really academically driven. I would always surround myself with academically-driven people thinking that it would help improve my grades. Ultimately, I was wrong, as I ended up being judged whenever I got a bad grade or a low GPA. This was damaging to my mental health, and I felt that school was not for me.But going into college meant having a clean slate, and I wanted to try again. I signed up for challenging classes and worked hard on getting those A’s. By the end of my first year, I achieved that 4.0. 

Finally, my third goal was to spend more time with my family. I have always been close with my family, but for the past year, we have been so busy with our work and school lives that there was an obvious disconnect that had developed. Quarantine was the perfect opportunity for us to spend quality time with each other. Every weekend, we would go on long walks, get coffee and go on San Diego trips to try different food places. Through this, our family bond was stronger than ever before. 

After going through a year-long pandemic and re-evaluating my senior year actions, the one thing I regret is leaving school early. I wish I had enjoyed my last moments with my classmates before we moved on to the next chapter of our lives. After experiencing such a rough year, I realized that I should cherish every moment. I should appreciate the people around me even if we barely talk to each other. This year has been hard on all of us, however, I sincerely hope that this upcoming school year will be better for everyone.