In times like these…

By: Julianne Tran

On March 10, I was sitting in a study room at the Newman Center, hearing the news that my mission trip to New York had been canceled due to the coronavirus. My jaw dropped. I had heard snippets of news on the pandemic, but it had felt so far away. Countries away. The last thing I expected was for this virus to impact me, but I knew that for a place like New York, full of bustling people and travelers coming in and out, the situation was more dire.

Then, minutes later, I heard news about how this virus directly affected me. TU was moving to online courses indefinitely past Spring Break. This was an even deeper shock for me. The virus had reached a busy place like New York, but I had never imagined that this virus would reach us in Tulsa. Disaster movies always took place in larger cities – D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle. They never showed the quiet suburbs of Mustang, OK (where I returned home to soon after hearing this news), being hit with a worldwide pandemic.

Back home so soon?

Yet, these are the times we are living in. Sure, there aren’t empty, pillaged streets with tumbleweeds rolling by or a smoking car in the background, but these are definitely unprecedented times.

Julianne Tran and a group of University of Tulsa friends beside the Arkansas River in the evening
Some of the TU friends I’m missing

I had never imagined spending the latter end of my freshman year in my childhood home, sitting at the desk where I had written so many college admission essays and stressing out over AP tests. It amazes me that about a year ago, I was here at home, making my college decision, scrutinizing every detail of where I hoped to spend my next four years.

I am now back at this desk, attending lectures, participating in discussions and connecting with friends over video chat. Leaving campus definitely gave me a clearer sense of how valuable it was to be in Tulsa – living with some of my closest friends, passing by McFarlin and reminding myself that this is all worthwhile, and being able to talk with professors simply by walking over to their office and knocking on their door. I realized that I even missed the little conversations I had with girls in my hall as I walked to the bathroom and the long walk to Keplinger, which gave me time to take in the small parts of campus – the stained glass of Phillips Hall, the blossoming trees, the chalked cobblestones.

Establishing order

In all this reminiscing, I am filled with so much excitement to return to campus soon after we have recovered from this terrible pandemic. In the meantime, I am trying to keep my schedule and establish some normalcy.

Julianne Tran giving a thumbs-up sign in front of her laptop computer and new study space
My new at-home study space

I love having a routine, so I have been trying to stick with the same class schedule I had on campus, as well as arrange Facetime lunches with friends and virtual activities with campus organizations. It has been pretty amazing to see how my professors have adjusted to distance learning – continually asking for feedback, being available to help us and checking in on how we’re doing overall. I have enjoyed being able to attend class and finish classwork with extra time to spare.

Taking time to slow down and reflect

Dinners with friends at Pat Case have been replaced with helping my mom cook and sitting around the table with my brothers and parents. Although I have really enjoyed the independence of being on my own in college, it has been nice to have more time at home with my family. I have also had more opportunities to explore my hobbies, including playing the piano, dancing and trying to cook. It has been a renewing time of rest and reestablishing my priorities.

Julianne Tran beside a car in which are two friends holding a happy birthday sign
My safe social-distancing birthday

I pray that we will all recover from this virus soon. In the meantime, however, I am glad we have been given this time to slow down and to notice the people who tirelessly continue to work around us. While things have definitely changed, I hold close to my memories from my first semester-and-a-half on campus and continue to notice the good in the time we have away from Tulsa.

 

 

Julianne Tran is from Mustang, Oklahoma. She is majoring in exercise and sports science on the pre-med track, with a minor in Spanish. Julianne loves dancing and trying to make entire meals in her dorm room microwave. “I hope to finish my time at TU as a kinder, smarter and better-equipped person!”

First-year exercise and sports science student Julianne Tran