COLUMN: My plans for a post-pandemic world

Natalie Navarro, Assistant Opinion Editor

As we all know, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has restricted us from doing basic things such as attending large-scale events and traveling. Even schooling has been affected, as we have not stepped foot on campus for over a year now. 

With the introduction of the vaccines and lower infection rates, there is a new sense of hope for normalcy within the coming months. Universities, including CSUSM, are expected to return on campus next fall, which is exciting news for students who prefer it over distance learning. 

With the fast-approaching summer coming along (and hopefully a vaccination beforehand), it is hard not to think about what to do first once it is safe to do so. 

As someone who had to spend my nineteenth birthday moving out of my dorm, I have been waiting for this since the beginning. I vividly remember being upset because I could not celebrate with my friends since they had all moved out of the dorms by that time. I just did not want to be alone. 

Now as a twenty-year-old, I cringe at the memory because it was such a minuscule problem compared to the events that took place within the past year. Spending a year living at home is a manageable task. We are lucky to live in a technology-based country because it still allowed us to connect with peers without struggle. 

Nonetheless, my plans for post-pandemic activities have not changed, as they consist of hanging out with my friends. 

I have only seen three of my friends in person in the past thirteen months, which all required proper mask and social distancing protocols. Although I am grateful for the times I did share with them, I wish to see more of them in the near future. 

I also plan to do simple things with them, such as share meals in restaurants and hang out at our homes. Maybe we can spend a day at a park or beach because I honestly cannot remember the last time I went to either. I also want to travel to places I have never been before with them, which seems more enticing now since I cannot study abroad. 

My friends are invaluable to me. I want to show them how much I appreciate our relationships. 

I am even excited to go back to school. Distance learning has become a struggle to manage due to the lack of consistent structure. I expect in-person learning to give me some structure back. 

This past year has made me realize just how much I took for granted. Before this, I would expect to do whatever I wanted whenever. I now know that this may not always be the case. 

From now on, I will cherish every experience no matter how small it is. It can be as simple as going to the grocery store or taking my dog for a walk. Feeling the warm sun touch my (once again) tanning skin means more to me now than it ever has. I will relish every minute of my freedom.