The Individual Pandemic Experience

This past year has been unconventional to say the least, and as Ontario moves into yet another shutdown I couldn’t help but think about all the different stages of lockdown we have been moving through over the past few months. When thinking about how we have moved between lockdowns, zones, and different restrictions, I was interested to hear what other people in different areas have experienced. So, I reached out to Ryerson students with a few questions regarding the topic, and here are some of the responses I got. 


I started out by asking where, geographically, students were when the lockdown happened and where they are now. Majority of the responses were from students who were in Toronto when this started, and are still in Toronto now. There was one response of someone who had moved from Toronto to New Brunswick, and one student who has been in Vietnam since the beginning of the pandemic.

Then I asked about the moment students realized COVID-19 was serious and that things were changing. This is a question that I had personally given a lot of thought to because I remember how much of a flurry everything had been after that moment. It was a moment of realization, then weeks of trying to adapt to a new normal. One student reflected on their moment of realization being in a common room in residence. This experience was similar to my own in that there were predictions as to what would happen with school, but also overwhelming hope that we would be able to stay at residence, with our friends and classmates, with the community we had built.   

The other responses I received were varied, one student’s response recalled that their moment of realization came during March Break, then followed with the completion of high school online. Finishing their senior year in online classes. A couple students recalled the moments in which they were informed events they were looking forward to were being canceled. While another student recalled noticing a significant change in the amount of people on public transit. 

One other response that I received, coming from the student in Vietnam, recalled that the acknowledgement of the COVID-19 came around the Tết Holiday. 

Hearing about all of these different moments has made me reflect on how significantly differently each of our circumstances during this pandemic have been; but also how it has been such a universal experience. 

At the end of this form, I asked if students had any final remarks in regard to their pandemic experience. 

One student left a link in their response that I followed to find a message written from a Muslim community. As a non religious person, I read this letter with an open mind but no personal spiritual or religious beliefs. While the letter was based in religious beliefs, I still found it to be a really powerful sentiment. I felt that the fact that someone had taken the time to include this link in their response with a little note stating “I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy” to be really touching. 

In this new climate I feel as though humanity has found something that has connected us no matter what our religious, spiritual, political views may be. This pandemic has affected people globally, and in that we have found new ways to act in kindness, and with compassion. And through little sentiments such as wishing a stranger to “Stay safe” or checking in on someone you care about, we have all found ways to connect to one another that is unique to this situation we have been put in with the pandemic.  


Thank you to anyone who sent in a response, and I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. 


Link to letter:


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