• Sophie Stekel

Farewell Forever, School

On Thursday March 12, I had my last day of school ever and didn’t even know it.


I was on my bathroom floor taking my nail polish off when I heard the news. My boyfriend sent me a link to the university president’s statement saying that they are cancelling all in-person classes for the semester and moving them online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


The smell of acetone started to burn my nose when I realized I was staring at the cracks of my subway station tiles in pure shock.


“That’s just it then,” I thought.


The recent class cancellations have sent me spiralling.

It’s the suddenness of it all. My university career came to an abrupt halt. Tires screeching on the asphalt.


I didn’t get to go on my farewell walk through campus or have the chance to carve my initials into my trusty library cubicle that got me through a late-night cram sesh (or two). I didn’t get to say goodbye to the barista at the on-campus coffee shop who knows my order. And perhaps most regretfully, I didn't have the chance to express my gratitude to the teachers who pushed me and ultimately made me a better writer.


Leaving the safety net of my university town that became my home for the past five years and moving back in with my parents so soon was certainly a shock to the system. But I don’t think any of us knew how bad COVID-19 would be or how long it would take to contain.


Graduating is scary. Graduating during a global pandemic is extra scary. We were all hoping to get employed and with the economy tanking, landing a job (any job) feels further and further out of reach.


It’s hard because there’s no one to blame. But for a soon-to-be graduates entering “the real world”, the fact that we don’t know when the shutdowns will end or what the world will look like when it does, is cause for us to anxiously gnaw at our nails.


I didn’t realize just how exhausting grad school was until I had the chance to stop and slow down. I’ve gone from having a rigorous structure to having ample free time. I’m able to spend hours on Facetime/ Zoom with my family and friends in their own self-quarantine, do lots of baking and at-home workouts, finally finish that book, binge lots of reality TV and cuddle up on the couch with my pup.

The “I didn’t have time” excuse doesn’t cut it anymore. Because now, I have nothing but time. Time to buckle down, get creative and figure stuff out. Say my silent farewells and grieve my university experience in my own private way.


That’s actually something I am grateful for.