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PERSPECTIVE: IU canceled my spring break study abroad. It was bittersweet.



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A design for a birthday cake is drawn in a notebook. Courtesy Photo

Two weeks before spring break, I was concerned about my upcoming one-week study abroad in the United Arab Emirates. My roommate was extremely worried because she didn’t want to get infected, and it felt like she was expressing her anxiety to subtly persuade me not to go. She started to ask me questions such as, “What’s going to happen to me if you contracted the virus?” and “Do I also need to quarantine myself after your return?”

I received an email from IU on March 12 saying that my trip was canceled. A part of me felt relieved as someone made the decision for me, but I also felt devastated not to be able to go for a trip that I’ve been anticipating for months. 

The cancellation took a toll on me. I was feeling low for almost a week after. I missed a few classes, and I didn’t even go to work. It was hard knowing I spent my own money and fundraised money, too. I found myself crying everywhere, out of nowhere: on the bus, on my way to lunch, before classes. 

Right before the spring break started, I made a promise to myself that I would let this go. I started deep-cleaning my apartment and throwing away things I didn’t need anymore. I was grateful for another week’s extension of spring break. I am trying to get myself together, hopefully, before classes start again.

I planned a birthday lunch for my best friend, which got postponed to a later date due to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order. I sketched the cake’s design including all the details such as the topping I would use and the type of cake filling. I chose to stick to yellow because it’s her favorite color. I posted the notes in my journal on the section in which I previously had my checklist for the U.A.E. trip.

My family’s home in Malaysia is a red zone for COVID-19, with a total lockdown. My commencement has been postponed. I’m overwhelmed with this whole online class thing. As an international student, it is a lot to digest. So I decided to spend my time with my boyfriend, too. I cleaned and disinfected his room and bathroom, so it would be safer for us to spend time together. I cooked lunch for him one time because he said the office’s cafeteria had closed and was complaining about the non-microwave-safe container for chicken nuggets.

Doing these little things for him is a way for me to cope. I consider him my primary support here, and I’m grateful I can spend more time with him before I go back home. 

I took some time, letting myself mourn for the trip that never happened. I let go of all the grief during the spring break. It was not the end of the world, and I decided to come back stronger — and ready to finish my last semester. Doing yoga in the morning and playing "Just Dance" on my Nintendo Switch in the evening helped spice up my first day of classes

I hope everyone is safe. Don’t forget to check on others too. We got this.

Ummi Atiyah

Senior, psychology

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