Column: My plans to study abroad in Italy were canceled because of COVID-19

Jaznia Tate painting. Photo By Jaznia Tate.
Jaznia Tate painting. Photo By Jaznia Tate.

Jaznia Tate

The virus was first brought to my attention in a negative light due to xenophobic remarks and many alleged stories of the virus’ origin throughout social media. It wasn’t until the rapid spread of the virus, when I realized something much more significant was going on. 

When it reached Italy, there was a little more panic and seriousness about it in the media. In May, I was scheduled to study abroad in Italy, so our trip advisor sent us weekly updates about what was happening as the virus spread.

Talk of the virus began to pick up to the point where we would discuss it in multiple classes, which made me realize it was much more serious than many had thought.

This virus has shifted my life in a new way. I went from having two jobs throughout the week, going to class every day, and having a daily meeting for extracurricular activities, to everything abruptly stopping.

When the university sent out the first email about in-person classes shifting to online classes, I was happy. From my own experience, online classes were easier than in-person classes. I thought I would finally have a little break from all the work I’ve been doing, and the extended spring break was also a plus.

Finding out that the online classes shift was the new normal for the rest of the semester was a big upset, however. I remember registering for these classes, not online, because the difficulty level of these classes was challenging, and I wanted in person instruction with one-on-one help if needed.

This is when I realized the virus is much bigger than they are telling us, because the campus rarely shuts down like this unless something really bad is happening.

Next were all the cancellations and the shut down of the whole campus. The study abroad program I was enrolled in was cancelled. My sorority’s recognition week was cancelled, and many other plans set in motion all abruptly ended.

Although it was really sad to see all these plans go down the drain, a sense of relief washed over me. I was fearful of the media’s warnings about what could happen with the virus once everyone returned from spring break. Also, I was going fast throughout the semester, and it felt like I really needed a pause.

COVID-19 gave me that pause and really let me sit down and analyze the situation. I’ve never seen something like this in my lifetime. Something that just stops the world.

I decided to take this time to be productive by doing things I’ve pushed off, but always wanted to do. I started a website for my mother’s art business. I started painting to create a mural in my living room. I work out much more now, and I also started cooking new recipes I’ve always wanted to try.

I try to not let myself get bored during the social distancing. Keeping myself busy is the best method, and it doesn’t necessarily mean always being active. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms have really become my best friends.

Jaznia Tate with snacks watching Netflix. Photo By Jaznia Tate.
Jaznia Tate with snacks watching Netflix. Photo By Jaznia Tate.

A good thing that has come from the social distancing and cancellations is more family time. I came back home from school, and I have the chance to see my family more often than I would have when the campus was open. It feels like I’m back in high school when I get to see them every day.

Jaznia Tate and her younger brother, Arthur Tate. Photo By Jaznia Tate.
Jaznia Tate and her younger brother, Arthur Tate. Photo By Jaznia Tate.

Things I am doing differently now than in the past would be better time management. With my busy schedule prior to the pandemic, I’ve always used a planner to balance my life. Sometimes I would slack off a little with the planner, but now I rely on the planner so much more.

Online classes and assignments are really easy to forget about when you don’t have a constant reminder of the actual class to go to. The outcome of the pandemic is teaching me self accountability.

 Working on selflessness is also a big way this event is shaping me personally. Seeing the heartbreaking stories of those who are losing loved ones to this virus, or those who are suffering financially because of the cancellations really make you see the bigger picture. I couldn’t imagine what their loss feels like, and I keep those who are suffering in these ways in my prayers.

This situation that we all have been forced to deal with can be saddening if you focus on all the negatives. My advice is to challenge yourself to do something you’ve always put on the back burner.

Whether it’s starting the YouTube Channel you’ve always wanted, or learning how to make the perfect chocolate cake, just do it. Find a little bit of happiness in everything you do, and it will help you get through this.

Jaznia Tate
Jaznia Tate

Jaznia Tate, 21, is a junior integrated marketing and communications major. UM was her last choice for college until she visited the campus and felt at home. 

Tate has always loved dancing and tumbling. She participated in gymnastics for nine years and cheered for six, including middle school and high school. Today, she usually teaches beginner cheer and gymnastics classes twice a week. She also loves to travel. She has been to three different countries and was planning to visit Italy the summer of 2020. 

Tate has been a member of the Black Student Union for three years and has served as the director of special events for the past two years. She has also been a member of the Fastrak Learning Community, where she served as a senior peer leader for the past two years. Lastly, she is a very active member in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

Tate plans to continue studying integrated marketing communications with a specialization in public relations. She hopes to become a future publicist, have a successful blog, and write her own book. Her biggest hope is to represent Fenty Beauty or Ivy Park.

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