Three days before my high school graduation, I was taking my economics final when the principal announced on the mic to stay calm. All my classmates and I were sitting against the wall, on the floor to protect ourselves from a possible bomb threat. I remember sobbing in the middle of my final exam - unsure if we were going to make it out. I thought to myself, “this really had to happen right before our graduation.” Three months before my college graduation, a pandemic occurred.
This is my personal account on the first half of the year.
It was a different kind of day. The day or year began as follows: celebrated the New Year Eve’s/New Year at a bar with my best friend, came home, slept for a couple of hours, and hopped on my flight to Paris. The first 12 hours was a combination of queasiness and excitement. I was in the States until noon and landed in Paris on the second morning of the year. Due to the time difference, in essence, the first day of the year was shortened. I had actually missed half of the first day of the year.
Now, that is a start.
My two study-abroad classmates and I flew to Paris together- two of us being first-time international flyers. Although it was a milestone flight for me, we couldn’t afford to sit together because we couldn’t afford to do so as college-student. FYI, that was a collective effort to save $120 (new French wine and cheese budget). On the upside, the perk of flying out on New Year’s Day was being able to enjoy the empty seats beside us on an under-capacity airplane. We landed in Charles De Gaulle airport with plans to meet up with our fourth classmate (whom we lost because she wasn’t picking up her phone). We could not be timelier. Many of the metro lines were not running due to the ongoing protests. The trip to the city took twice as long and we were those dam Americans hauling the three-week packed luggage up and down the metros.
Day 2 to Day 24
I learned so much about European Art in Europe and was the happiest I have been while doing it. I am so incredibly grateful to have experienced different cultures and countries in 2020.
The first case of COVID-19 confirmed in the U.S.
Day 1 of Shelter-in-place
In the Bay Area, the shelter-in-place was mandated to start on March 17, 2020, at 12:01AM. I was born on this day some years ago. The beginning days and weeks of the shelter-in-place was thrilling and absolutely liberating – no class, commute, and more sleep. During the beginning stages, it was predicted to last only three weeks. Carefully planning these upcoming weeks, I took advantage of the time to finish off to prepare myself for the plans post-graduation.
Day 21 of Shelter-in-place (extended)
The three weeks at home were long but tolerable. By the end of the three weeks, there was no way the restrictions were going to be lifted. The data was showing increasing reports of COVID-19 – and not to mention, it was a great undercount.
Soon enough, my professors adapted to the extended shelter-in-place. The unregulated school environment meant making ceramic cups in my bathroom (with some unregulated rosé). Similar to many other projects, it soon became an impassion. I absolutely love learning and even with all the time in the world, this was no longer a joy to pursue. My grade was no measure of my skills in comparison to an evaluation in the classroom. The university was shut down which meant my presence was not required on campus, but I still had three more months of rent to pay for my apartment across the street. Although my internship came to an early end, I was fortunate enough to have saved enough from the eight jobs I worked since I graduated high school.
The class of 2020 was expected to follow the same path as the previous classes. Our class was supposed to have our work displayed in a Senior Show, a celebratory night event to display the work completed during our time in the Interior Design program. The event was an opportunity to show my projects to friends, family, and professionals while holding the traditional event. The show was canceled. We had our installations mocked up in the studio, teams researched budgets, etc. It was announced that the show had to continue. I had the great opportunity to readapt our traditional show to a virtual one.
Day 45 Shelter-in-place (extended again)
In the beginning, no one could even fathom the thought of quarantining until May, the month I was supposed to graduate. I set my expectations low to establish a mindset to prepare for the bad news. And so, I was expecting graduation to be canceled. While I was constantly in denial - the mental acceptance of the situation made it difficult to find passion in my current work. I questioned all the assignments in school and my frustration to answer them was reflected in the final product.
Graduation was not an event for me, but for my immigrant parents. When my parents were 22, they took a great leap of fate and were immigrating to the United States in hopes of a better future. When I was 22, I was supposed to cross the stage at Daisy Ma to celebrate the suffering they endured. The event was for them, and to all the families that struggled to get to this day.
Day 182 / Mid-Year
I am writing this with fireworks in the background. Businesses covered their storefronts with OSB. Facemasks and latex gloves are ubiquitous to the floor. Cities across the world are in literal flames.
My financial, professional, and life goals are behind, and to an uncertain extent. Although there may not be a clear path to take, I have been paving my own opportunities. When generations have established a "success sequence," (the timeline to graduate get married, have kids, etc.) the tried-and-tested formula challenges me to think if I'm anywhere on the "right track."
To the graduates, we made it. We made it so incredibly far, we reached a new world. Congratulations.