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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Florence Wu '22 in Auckland, New Zealand

<span class="photocreditinline">COURTESY PHOTO</span><br />Wu’s cluttered desk at home.
Wu’s cluttered desk at home.

Florence Wu ’22

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Submitted May 5, 2020

I remember a week before the closing of the campus I was stressing over the assignments due in a week, looking forward to post-Spring break plans and debating whether I should risk going to California, a Covid hot spot, for a week of spring skiing at Mammoth. Twenty-four hours later, I found myself trying to fit a year's worth of belongings in four suitcases, scrambling to cross the US-Canadian border before it closed, and hurling over the Pacific to a New Zealand summer that I haven't seen in two years.

Throughout the process, I had a lot of help and support from friends that I am so thankful for. Looking out the window and watching the plane take off from a foreign city, I realized that the next time I come back to Middlebury, it will probably be in half a year and as a junior. I wasn't quite sure how to feel, but I for sure was not ready to call it a year and was baffled by the five-month-long summer break ahead of me. Nevertheless, I looked forward to the Auckland summer, the blooming trees in One Tree Hill, and the kids running barefoot on the beaches.

What has been your greatest worry or day-to-day concern as coronavirus has spread?

My greatest worry is how the fall semester will turn out. I planned to study abroad, but now I am not sure if that will happen anymore, so the uncertainty makes it hard to plan for things. 

What has made you happy over the past few weeks?

I discovered that a local bakery remained open throughout the lockdown, which kickstarted my daily routine of a morning run there for a cup of coffee and an almond croissant. In the early mornings, I meet an old lady with her German shepherd, with whom she will share half of whatever pastry she buys. Sometimes, we will make eye contact and smile through our masks — small gestures like that make the whole lockdown much more bearable.   

Florence Wu

Florence Wu '22 is the multimedia editor specializing in photojournalism. She enjoys photography as a way of connecting with others, as well as recording special events and moments in her personal life. She is inspired by the works of Robert Frank, Joel Sternfeld, Alec Soth, Teju Cole, and Gregory Halpern. This year, she will be working on a photojournalism project on the lives of workers at the college and town of Middlebury. Feel free to contact her via email for photo, video or podcast ideas.