Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19 – Part 2

On April 22, 2020, I wrote this reflective post on life in the age of COVID-19. At that time, news of COVID-19 had been around for more than two months. The January news of the China outbreak surprised a lot of us. And when it moved to Italy in February, it hit closer to home (for my family at least). By March, the disease had spread to Canada, and by mid-March, the world around me completely changed. As of March 17th, I was working from home, navigating the online teaching and learning environment, and training and managing a team of undergraduate and graduate students. The days passed quickly.

By the time I wrote my mid-April post, I had lived the WFH (Working From Home) life for a month. It’s now mid-August, and I want to write about what has been going through my mind since my April reflection.


Well, I started a new job! It’s been really quite exciting even if I haven’t met any of my colleagues in person or stepped into my new office. Heck, I don’t even know where my office is, and even if I did, I don’t yet have an access card to get into any buildings on campus. In the pandemic era, some processes are slow going. Others, however, are absolutely normal. I regularly meet with colleagues online. I’ve attended committee meetings, info sessions, and new faculty orientation workshops. Course prep is in full swing for online teaching this fall. The work continues. I have found that people around campus (wherever they may be Zooming in from) are helpful and generally seem more patient than usual. My mind is getting exercise, and I’m actually quite pumped for September (one of my favourite times of the year!).

I also just wrapped up teaching my final course at my previous institution. It was all online (May to August), and it worked out well. Student participation was high, guest speakers joined with ease, and I enjoyed the topics that we were able to learn about over the 12-week course. My students’ presentations were all COVID-19 related (they’re economics students), and they explored so many economic perspectives/impacts of the pandemic (real estate, job market, retail spending, education, sports). It was fascinating, in fact! Teaching online worked out just fine for me, and I found it less mentally draining than in-person teaching. The end of this course made me sad, however, because it was such a big part of my work at my previous institution. I developed the course from scratch and taught hundreds of students over the last several years, so I was sad that it ended. I’ll be teaching different courses now, but maybe I will revisit the possibility of teaching a similar course in the future.

So…as far as work goes, I continue to be so so so grateful. I am fortunate to do the work that I do. Yes, the work environment has changed, but this has forced me to learn and try new things. My brain is active!


I spent much of the first few months of the pandemic alone or with my beau. Those months were filled with weekly Zoom calls or distanced porch chats with family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Even though my face-to-face social circle was non-existent, I felt quite social. And it felt sort of normal. Sort of. I also love my alone time, so I embraced days when I didn’t “see” anyone.

In May, I made a surprise visit to my parents’ house for Mother’s Day. I wasn’t sure they would let me in the house, but they did. 🙂 That had been the first time I had seen them in person since February, and it felt good. I think this short visit gave us all a break and a change of pace at the time. There were no hugs (weird) or kiss-kisses (double cheeks, Italian way), but we chatted, yelled, interrupted, laughed, and ate…all the things that we love to do!

As Ontario started to open up, I started socializing regularly in my backyard (at a distance) and in cottage country. Outdoor patio visits with groups of less than 10 people positioned at a distance became the norm. I served up Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer at every gathering. My friends seemed to get used to me taking sanitizer breaks and spraying their hands. Of course it was weird, but it was good, too. My face-to-face social circle grew, and it felt so good to see people in real life!

By July, Waterloo (where I live) had hit the Stage 3 mark of opening, which made me extra happy because it was my birthday month! So, I got to have a birthday with friends and family, and it was fun and special and just about normal! I loved the day I spent floating down The Grand River, having a pizza party, and eating my mom’s delicious gnocchi. There was cake, too! I also escaped to Langdon Hall for a luxurious 2-night birthday getaway. I felt spoiled and lucky!

Friends remain distanced at gatherings, and hugs are minimal or non-existent (still weird). If a second wave does come this fall, outdoor social time is going to be difficult. Maybe it’s time to invest in outdoor heat lamps?

Beyond social time, there has been SO much to celebrate for my family and friends – milestone birthdays, pregnancies, births, jobs! In the midst of a pandemic, there has been so much joy to share. These moments have been amazing!


In general, my mental state has been okay. Work has helped me to stay happy and so has social time (online or in real life). For the first few months, I grocery shopped once (or maybe twice) a month. I really hated it. Now, it’s okay. I am in and out of grocery stores as quickly as possible, and I only go when I have to (about once a week, I’d say). I don’t like touching things. I still wash just about everything that comes into my house before I put things away. I’m not sure if this is needed, but I still do it. I follow the arrows in the store to avoid colliding with other people, and it annoys me when other people don’t follow them. I smile at people as I pass them, and I have a little chat with the cashier on my way out. It’s a fine experience, but I don’t love it.

When I walk around Uptown Waterloo, I am reminded of my trip to Japan. We may find it odd to wear masks now, but the Japanese had been wearing masks for a long while pre-COVID-19. On my trip there last April, masks were the norm. I even brought some mint-scented masks back for my Dad, and now I wish I had bought more while I was there because the selection was so diverse. It is now more normal to see people in masks here, and you can’t enter stores without wearing one. The initial weirdness of wearing a mask has just about worn off (but I’m still trying to manage the eyeglasses fogging up part of it).

Sad days come, too, naturally, especially when I think about the state of the world, the unfortunate circumstances that I see in my own city, and the troubles family and friends are going through (childcare, work, schooling decisions – so hard!). I try to stay positive, looks for things that I can change or control, and stay in touch with friends to share some happy stories and laughs to get us through tougher days. At the moment, I have a video of my niece belting out a song from Hamilton that instantly puts a smile on my face. It’s a great video to go back to when I need a laugh.

Although Waterloo (and Ontario) are slowly returning back to normal, I do think it’s wise to proceed with caution because the future remains unknown. In Italy, reports are showing a jump in the number of cases. And Auckland, New Zealand is now in a 3-day lockdown after a new COVID-19 discovery (after a 100-day period of COVID-19 free). Things can change in an instant. Just like they did in March.


The Food Bank remains a good place to send funds now and always. The Region of Waterloo has additional suggestions for ways to help. If you’re not in the region, I encourage you to look at your government’s website to discover organizations in need.

If you’re not able to provide financial support, other acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness, patience, and conversation are always appreciated.

Be well, everyone!

1 Comment

  1. Silvia Del Rosso August 13, 2020

    A good food for thought post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts


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