From Our Scholar Blogs:

Nich’s Adjustment to Summer in a COVID-19 World

Nich Vunn, a rising junior at Gettysburg College, shares her experience with transitioning to a new way of life due to COVID-19. 

I am reflecting on my experience with COVID-19 after my final exams at Gettysburg College. Just like everyone else, I’m having a hard time coping with these strange and scary times. No one anticipated that a global pandemic was going to happen, but here we are trying our best to adjust to this new reality that we’re all sharing right now. Transitioning to this new way of life certainly wasn’t easy. However, I am doing my very best to come out of this stronger than ever!

At the beginning of the spring semester, news of COVID-19 started to emerge in Cambodia. My family and friends were talking about how concerned they were about the spread of the disease. My father, an English-speaking tour guide, informed me that my home town was experiencing a downturn in tourism. I was worried about my family’s safety and well-being and expressed my concerns to friends and colleagues at school. After a few weeks went by, the virus started to spread in the United States. It was in the middle of spring break when we found out that Gettysburg was transitioning to virtual classes for the rest of the semester. I felt lost, confused and overwhelmed.
Thankfully, my SHE-CAN mentor team, the SHE-CAN staff, and my family were there for me every step of the way. They checked in with me to see how I was doing and replied to my emails and messages instantly. I felt loved and supported by each of the individuals I mentioned above. Shortly after, my mentor Anne invited me to stay with her in New York state. My mentor team and I came to the conclusion that returning home to Cambodia was the best decision for me. 

Gaining insight and inspiration from my mentor, Anne.

We then booked a flight for me to Phnom Penh and I was feeling ready to return home to my family in Cambodia. However, I woke up to the terrible news that my flight was cancelled. Many Asian countries began to lock down and put restrictions on travel. We tried our best to get me home but it seemed like the decision had been made for me. ​​

Learning new hobbies in the midst of chaos

Soon, I began transitioning to my classes through Zoom and I set up at Anne’s dining room table. I questioned how I would be able to focus and get the best out of my education in the midst of all of this chaos. Luckily, my professors were quite understanding and flexible. However, the amount of news I was watching every day began to make me feel anxious. I soon realized there was nothing I could do to control what was happening in the world but what I could do was try my best to finish the semester strong. Instead of scrolling through my social media feed, I began to limit my screen time and use the time to learn new hobbies and stay connected with my friends and family.
Anne and I consistently went for walks and took virtual yoga classes together. I also got to read interesting books and listen to podcasts that I didn’t have the time for before! My favorite book during quarantine has been The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Playing ukulele and singing has definitely been my favorite part of the day. Anne and I also got to celebrate Easter and Khmer New Year together. It was very special learning and sharing each other’s cultures. Most important of all, I was able to see how strong and independent of a woman Anne is in her day-to-day routine and through her work ethnic. She inspires me and I am so very lucky to have her in my life. 

Music always helps me throughout the day!

I wanted to conclude by saying that I am grateful to know that my loved ones are safe and healthy. Being away from my family is challenging but I will come out of this stronger. I am also able to connect with people that I haven’t had the chance to connect with prior to COVID-19. For example, receiving texts from my host family from when I studied abroad in Namibia and a note from my middle school teacher to see how I am doing has been really special. Knowing that I am loved and cared for is very important to me right now. I cannot wait to see everyone on the other side of this stronger and inspired!