Check out the following refreshing perspective from UHP Peer Advisor Nicky Cacchione!
72 hours ago, I was sitting in Buenos Aires, Argentina about 5,000 miles from our beautiful Foggy Bottom campus. I had just been on “vacation” (lol all of an abroad semester feels like a vacation… but just go with it) in the province of Salta in Argentina and had seen Las Salinas Grandes, which are these incredible salt flats (seriously look up some pictures it’s nuts!), but all of a sudden, I found my semester abroad turned upside down. Now, I find myself writing this blog, after 24 hours of straight travel, in a friend’s apartment here in DC. To say this isn’t how I expected things to turn out is an understatement, and I know I speak for a lot of people when saying that sentiment probably resonates with you all. However, in the face of all of this uncertainty, tragedy, anger, sadness, and confusion – I want to implore the UHP community to do something that seems almost too hard to do right now: find the silver linings.
I think for all of us, these are incredibly stressful times. Personally, I have no permanent housing until my lease starts in mid-June, I am out thousands in planned personal travel, I can’t see relatives in fear of spreading the virus, I was thrown back into a culture I didn’t think I’d experience for another 50+ days, I had to abruptly say goodbye to newfound friends abroad, and the GW I was forced to come back to is almost completely desolate. To be honest, I can’t, and don’t even feel bad for myself in all of this. There are people dying, losing their jobs, and losing their homes. There are high school and college graduating classes of 2020 that aren’t sure if they will get a proper commencement, and are now positive it won’t be when it was expected to be. There are even other students like myself, who were abroad, who had only been in their respective locations since the first week of March. No matter how bad, or comparatively “okay” your situations are to any of these people, I think now, of all the times in the world, it is time to stay positive and take comfort in the small things.
For me, the first silver lining was reaching out to my business fraternity pleading with someone to let me crash at their place, not expecting anything of it, only to be received with 8 text messages from different people, some who I barely am close with, saying that I could use their apartments. The next was a 6-hour flight home from Panama with a friend that I had wanted to get to know better on my program, we talked the whole way. The others have included unexpected reunions with my best friends here at GW who I didn’t expect to see until May at the earliest, monument runs instead of crowded gyms runs in Buenos Aires, and support of a GW community on my return from abroad (thanks for the free toilet paper guys, I didn’t realize how hard it’d be to find some).
For all of us, it can be the fact that we are blessed with technology. We have the ability to keep in touch with all of our friends through this fiasco via facetime or video games or whatever platform you choose. Or it could be that some of you get to see your families earlier than expected – hold them close even if they get on your nerves, because family is forever. More trivially, maybe you were not having the best semester academically; well now you can choose to take that tough UHP class pass/fail and it won’t affect your GPA. Moreover, do you know how many tv shows and movies and books we are all about to get through? Choose one with a friend and call them about it after every few episodes (if anyone still needs to watch the Marvel Universe movies, your boi is making his way through those as we speak). Regardless of what it is, there are silver linings to every situation: yes, even COVID-19. The process to find them isn’t easy, and they aren’t going to fix the problems that the world has right now at all, but if there is one thing I learned from being abroad in Buenos Aires, it’s to smile in the face of uncertainty, and learn to relax because a lot of things just aren’t in our control. On the contrary, what is always in our control is what we do to try to make ourselves happy.
So UHP, I’m happy/sad (great Addams Family reference right here if any of you get it I already love you) to be back so soon with you all – keep lifting each other up on social media and posting pictures and workout routines because you are all gorgeous and strong, keep drawing fruits and veggies and tagging your friends, and keep on finding the things throughout this that are going to make you happy.
I hope to see you all soon – stay safe and healthy!