Wiscasset’s Vanessa Dunn navigates college, travel in pandemic

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 4:30pm

    The coronavirus is affecting everyone's life right now. With stores, schools, and more closing, everyone is coming to terms with our new reality. 

    Life as a college student right now has been a saddening experience. College students all over have had to pack up their things and move back home, while their professors switch classes to online learning and students learn how to get the most out of their education while staying home. While this may be upsetting for all students, it is the seniors my heart feels for the most. They are the ones leaving behind their college experience for good. However, with this not being ideal, it is still important to understand that this is something that needs to happen for everyone to stay as safe and as healthy as possible. 

    While keeping in mind the recommendations of social distancing, traveling during this time has been challenging. While staying with my sister in Florida, I have observed things that make it hard not to feel especially worried: From seeing everyone in masks and gloves traveling through the airport, to endless amounts of empty shelves in grocery stores, it makes you more aware of your personal health and everyone around you. 

    Our plans to visit my sister had been made before the virus went out of control, so we had booked a roundtrip flight to Florida. As the date approached, we chose to stick with our plan to fly. We made sure to have antibacterial and antiviral wipes at hand, along with hand sanitizer for when we could not wash our hands.

    Typically when arriving to the airport for a flight, many arrive hours before departure time to ensure enough time to make it through security, etc. When arriving at Logan Airport, it took less than 15 minutes to check our bags, go through security, and find our departure gate due to there being few travelers. Workers wore masks and gloves, as did some passengers, and nearly everyone had a bottle of hand sanitizer in their hands or had sanitation wipes.

    This was much different from my experience traveling to Florida last year when lines lasted forever and people were everywhere.

    Arriving in Florida was just as easy as at Logan Airport, and there were workers everywhere cleaning. Upon arriving to my sister’s apartment, I threw the clothes I was wearing into the washer, disinfected my things, and hopped in the shower. After this experience, we decided to keep our flight home and planned once again to keep our distance while washing our hands every chance we get. We also keep our hands away from our face. The first flight there were plenty of open seats, so on the flight home if this was also the case, I planned to move seats if I needed to, to distance myself from others. There was no screening of passengers or health-related questions. Since buying our flight, flight costs have dropped significantly as the number of passengers has decreased. While I traveled home, the airport had more workers than passengers, and our flight that seated 150 passengers only had 12 people. 

    Many spring breakers feel they should be able to live their lives and spend their break the way they want to, but it is so important to distance ourselves from others now. While finding things to do during my time with my sister, we have opted to do things that keep us away from others. For one, we visited a drive-through safari. With this you get to stay in your own car, limiting interactions, but you still get to see all the animals you would if you went to a walk-through zoo.

    We have opted out of dine-in eating experiences, only ordering take-out when necessary. We spent time on the beach, planting ourselves where others would not be near us, but this only lasted so many days until the beaches were closed indefinitely. We have watched as both small and large businesses have closed one by one, many businesses having signs asking you to stay out if you have been coughing, sneezing, etc. 

    I have appreciated my chance to be warm in Florida, but as I am preparing to travel home I am feeling thankful to return to Maine, where I plan to stay in my house except for essential trips, and continue to follow the CDC guidelines and recommendations. 

    Young people may not be as concerned about the virus, figuring they can bounce back, but they should be just as cautious as everyone else. I urge you to think not just of yourself during this time, but of others as well. While a young person may be able to heal more quickly, if they are not keeping their distance from others, it could be easily passed onto someone who does not have the same ability to fight the virus.