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Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

Two years in: reflecting on post-pandemic

Today, the publication date of this issue, marks the two-year anniversary of the day that Middlebury students were told that they were being sent home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Less than half of the current student population was present on campus during that semester, but within days, we all experienced our version of The Day It All Changed, or some sort of transition that marked the Before, During and — now, for some — the After of the pandemic. 

In the past two years, we’ve gone through a period of both collective, mass-scale loss but also individual experiences of grief. Yes, we’re “all in this together” — but we’ve also all encountered vastly different versions of the pandemic, from the initial quarantine to the return to school (or not) in the fall of 2020 to all of the waves and lulls of Covid-19 that have occurred since then. Some of these things may have fundamentally changed how we think about ourselves and our relation to others. For others, however, they may feel the exact same as they did in March 2020 — and both experiences are valid. 

At this point, we’re beginning a tentative transition into post-pandemic life. For some, that means rebounding to Before; for many of the seniors, this means reverting back to the middle of our fourth semester of college. For others — and this is where I find myself — it means navigating the return to a life that may feel familiar in some ways but also foreign in others. This is not necessarily because life is all that different than it was in March 2020, but because my relationship to this life has been altered substantially. 

Not to jinx any budding romances out there, but you may have heard that it’s break-up season. In a transitional period such as this one, this makes sense to me; friction occurs when people change at different paces and at different times, and this return to normal life is likely to bring some of this friction into focus, not just in romantic relationships but also in friendships, too. This friction is not insurmountable, but it does require some acknowledgment of both similar and dissimilar experiences that affect how we confront life moving forward. 

I understand that this may all sound very abstract to you, and that’s partially intentional. I’m still trying to figure it all out, too. I guess that my point boils down to this: sh*t happened. Some of us are still reeling from the pandemic, while others have been ready to return to normal for a while. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. 

I’m not sure when we’ll stop commemorating the anniversary of that day in March. I’ll admit it — as a student journalist, it’s likely that I’m more fond of considering the impact of certain pivotal events in college history than others. But days like these are good reminders for all of us of what has changed —  but also what hasn’t. 

Lucy Townend

Lucy Townend '22 is a Managing Editor alongside Abigail Chang.

She previously served as a senior section editor, a local editor, and a copy editor.

Townend is majoring in International Politics and Economics, studying  French throughout her years at Middlebury and is planning on completing  a thesis focused on income inequality and regime change.

This previous summer, Townend interned as a private banking analyst  at a mid-sized bank in Chicago and plans to continue her work there  after graduation.