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In the snow globe

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New year, new blogger! Please welcome Berta Vázquez Zubiaurre, who was born in Spain, but has studied in Canada, Denmark and Utrecht, where she's pursuing a Bachelor's in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). Well, actually that last one is kind of complicated. She left the city in the beginning of the pandemic and can't wait to come back.

It was just supposed to be two weeks. Two weeks off, and then back to normalcy. Of course, we were mistaken. When the coronavirus struck for the first time, I moved away from Utrecht, for what I thought would be a maximum of a month. It turned out to be two years, away from my classmates, professors, and my entire academic community. We are still waiting to hear back from the UU administration about whether we will be allowed on campus this new semester, and this will determine whether I will come back to Utrecht. The wait is intense, as I am craving a sense of normalcy, to continue what was stopped in March 2020, for me and many others. I am hoping that we will have at least some in-person meetings, as this will determine whether I make it back to Utrecht for my final semester.

Going back to Utrecht, finishing my studies surrounded by my classmates... For me, this represents the idea that we will make it out of the pandemic era. The idea that we will be able to make plans again, to hope for stability, and to not fear huge spikes of cases that will erase the habits that keep us grounded. In a way, the pandemic has taught us the hard way to grow roots where there is no stability. It has been a tumultuous time for the whole world, but students are being forced to make decisions in the dark — decisions that we are constantly told are life-changing and essential. We are being constrained from all sides, rushed by passing time, poked by people’s expectations of our professional paths, and suffocated by the workload that was there before the pandemic. This is why, when fellow students share their sense of disappointment in their academic performance, I remind them that simply being able to continue their studies is an accomplishment amid this uncertainty.

Almost two years have gone by since the world first locked down, and it feels like my life remains on stand-by. This is, however, untrue, because I am two years older. This is an unalterable fact, and I know that I have changed, matured, and grown. Like a figurine in a snow globe, my identity has shifted, I have created my own sense of security in isolation. I have had to protect myself from the anxiety-inducing exterior world, that keeps mutating. Going back to Utrecht and having in-person classes will allow me to break the glass and interact with the world without the fear of it shattering. All that is left to do now is wait, and of course, hope.

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