It’s hard to fathom that it has been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up nationwide. I remember vividly that first weekend of March last year when my high school announced before the long weekend that we would be entering a two week period of “remote learning protocol.” Initially, my friends and I were excited about this announcement as we perceived it as an extended spring break on top of it being the tail end of our senior year. The first few days were quite relaxing, as it allowed for the stress of school work to dissipate and for me to have free time on my hands—little did we know that we would be entering the start of more or less a “New World.” Days became weeks, which then turned into months and now a whole year. Over the course of the pandemic, it became clear that this was not going away overnight. It was truly a rough experience at times, as many of the senior year events and traditions that I had been looking forward to were cancelled and  hat Thursday in March -- unknowingly to us at the time -- was the last real school day of the year. However, while it's no secret that there have some been major downsides to this pandemic, I believe that the year was not completely bleak. There was a light at the end of the tunnel that brought much-needed good news. 

For starters, I am grateful for the fact that my freshman year experience was not entirely through a computer screen. There have certainly been some obstacles living on campus, such as Zoom fatigue and adjusting to the new social component of campus life. Despite these and other challenges (like recognizing people with their masks), I was still able to have a memorable first semester and new memories are already starting to form during this current semester. Some of my hometown friends have not been as fortunate, as they were forced to spend half or all of their freshman year at home. This makes me more appreciative of Villanova for making an effort to keep all of its students on campus. 

Another positive aspect during this rollercoaster of a year was being able to devote more time to the content of streaming services. During the initial months of quarantine, I watched many new TV shows with my family, such as “Outer Banks,” “All American” and “Cobra Kai.” It was nice to be able to watch and talk about these immersive shows and escape from the constant news updates, whether it be about COVID-19 or the political scene. Even here at Villanova, some of my more memorable nights have been watching TV shows and movies with friends and introducing each other to new ones. Currently, I am watching the Harry Potter movie series, which I had missed out on as a kid. The experience is definitely amplified by watching it with friends. 

The effects of the pandemic certainly remain nearly a year later, but the future does look bright. We were able to significantly lower the number of COVID-19 cases from the massive spike that occurred a few weeks ago, and our chances of remaining on campus for the semester are high. Even on a national level, the number of new cases has noticeably diminished  in part due to the vaccines. With the recent approval of the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are now three vaccines available across the nation. On top of that, President Joe Biden has also recently stated that the country should have enough doses for every adult by the end of May. Although it's still going to take a little longer to distribute these vaccines, the summer could very possibly mark a return to some degree of normalcy. To add on to this hopeful idea, Villanova intends to have a fully in-person semester in the fall, assuming we continue down the right path. This news genuinely made my day when I found out. This is definitely not how I envisioned my freshman year at college, but it is still a year that I have found very enjoyable. All in all, I can confidently say that I look forward to the next few months of the semester and truly believe that the weeks ahead will continue to significantly trend in the right direction, not only here on campus, but on a much grander scale.