How COVID-19 Affected My Life

This is a guest post by Riad S. Abdullayev, a student in OpenLab team member Olivia Wood’s Composition 1 class at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Riad originally posted this work on the CUNY Academic Commons, a platform similar to the OpenLab that is open to all CUNY students. City Tech students are encouraged to browse the Commons to see what their peers at other colleges are working on. 

Most probably one of the worst things the person can do right now is to be selfish and made the world problem about himself. However, this is exactly what I am going to do in this paper.

2019 was a tough year for me. It is started with my legalization process in this country. It started with a different choice I had to make – I needed to refuse my citizenship and apply for asylum here in the United States, which meant I could never go back to my country. I could never walk around the streets I grew up in. Most probably I will never see most of my friends ever again. I will never enter the house I grew up in. Unfortunately, as sad as it is but going back isn’t an option. Despite my family, my friends and some nice childhood memories my country can’t offer me anything else. Especially, it can’t guaranty the most essential thing for a human being – safety. Not only authorities deny protection for people like me, but they also initiate persecution and spread hate among citizens.

So, as hard as it was – I started my asylum application, which surprisingly didn’t last long. In the middle of March, I already got approval and now was the time to make my American dream come true.

I don’t want to go deep into the details since it should be about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected me, but I want the reader to understand my position better.

After eight months of changing different minimal wage jobs, several panic attacks and taking control over my PTSD, I finally have been accepted to college! One step closer to my goal. In the last weeks of 2019, I made a list – well, not even a list more of a guideline – what I am going to do in 2020 and the upcoming decade in general. I promised myself to enjoy life, take as many opportunities as I can, be social, take care of my health – both physical and mental, take care of my look, start to dress stylish and many other things that I didn’t do in 2019. And, well, generally before.

And the first three months of 2020 I truly did my best to follow this guideline.

But the universe had a different plan for us all. The year started with a rumor about World War Three. And then not long after we heard about the novel coronavirus spreading around chine and slowly going out of it to other countries. We all remember the bird flu, swine flu, Ebola outbreaks so at that time no one expected what is going to happen. And while the novel virus was spreading around the Old World, we didn’t pay attention to that. We were going to school, work, events, parties, etc.

I remember the virus got my attention in mid- February when it started to spread over Iran. Since my country located in the North-Western border of Iran – I realized it is a matter of time when the virus is going to knock on the doors of people I care about. However, following the news about the spread of the virus in Europe and Asia didn’t give me any closure to see what is about to happen.

I remember receiving an email on Tuesday around 11 PM that classes on Wednesday are canceled. Then on Wednesday governor gave the order to switch into distance learning mode till the rest of the semester. Less than a week later – I received an email from my boxing gym that they are going to be closed. And in one day all the bars, cafes and restaurants have closed their doors. Some of them still deliver food, some of them won’t open ever again.

I was afraid that staying locked at home with this uncertainty of the future may trigger my PTSD. Thankfully it didn’t. At least for now. But I live in constant fear of the returning of my nightmares and painful flashbacks.

Despite all that mess in the world and my head, I am still focused on my long-term goal. I am being on top of my classes. Doing as much of my assignments as I possibly can. I even registered for summer courses in order to graduate faster. My short yet full of different events life had taught me – while our body has physical limitations, our mind doesn’t. So, the virus might be aggressive, dangerous and deadly but I won’t give up on life. I won’t let fear, anxiety, and uncertainty take over my life ever again.

Adapting to Covid-19

I remember when it was announced that the virus was taking over China. There were so many videos on the internet of the streets in Wuhan. One second a pedestrian is standing on the street corner, waiting for the bus, the next second they’re passed out on the floor. It was insane to see, and pretty scary, but I guess I didn’t really imagine the escalation it took. Once I saw that Italy went on full quarantine, instantly I’m pretty sure the majority of the United States realized that would possibly be us soon, so the supermarkets got filled up, people went crazy for toilet paper, checkout lines would be so long they would wrap around the store. As soon as my mom saw that there were a few cases in Manhattan, she had me pretty much move down to Pennyslvania with her during quarantine. So that’s where I am right now. It’s a bit of a struggle to be honest, but it could be a lot worse, I can’t do much other than just try to adapt and work on myself. I think the hardest thing to maintain and adapt to is school, 100%. It felt motivating to physically get up in the morning and go to school and then work, or get up, go to work and then school. Everything was on a schedule, it was so easy. Online school….not as much. Obviously the job I had back home temporarily closed, so instead of staying jobless I got a job at the Costco around here that my mom works at. Everyone is taking precaution out here, but it is not as bad as New York is currently. But we start so early in the morning, 5-6 am, once I get back to my mom’s, I rest, and then try my best to get as much work done for all my classes. It gets a little overwhelming though. For some classes I don’t really feel like I’m learning as well/ as much as I should be. It’s easier to understand lectures when the teacher is visible, doing the work, explaining it step by step vocally. Using both my eyes and ears at the same time to take in as much information and comprehend the best that I can. School is definitely really stressful during this time. Another thing that is stressful is simply just my mental state. Ever since this virus began to spread all over New York City, it is so exhausting to constantly be hoping that no one you love and care for gets it. Friends, family, apparently a tiger contracted the virus so animals can also be on that list. Everyday I just see posts and hear stories of this person’s husband, mom, dad, uncle, friend passing away from the virus. My uncle was recently diagnosed with the virus as well. He seems fine for now, but it made me realize how real this all is. Yes, the masks and demand to be 6 feet apart, the numerous news stories makes it all feel just as real, but when someone you love and care for gets it, and you have no clue how bad it will escalate in their system. I don’t know, I’m been feeling a lot of things these last few weeks. Just hoping this ends soon, this is all a huge mess.

Today’s Commute

The M train runs like a jaguar through the night, while tunnel lights stretch out before my eyes. The seven other individuals in this cart sit 4 feet or more away from me. It screeches due to lack of people talking to block its cries. No one dares position themself right next to one another on a day like today. The train escapes from the underground onto the Williamsburg Bridge that transports the 8 of us to a different borough. My eyes adjust. The sky stands still and imitates me while tall buildings underneath it rush away from me.

The mechanical train operator indicates the following stop. The double doors separate and open a gap between them. A man walks out through them, while another man rushes inside. The double doors come together again and close, trapping him in. This new man doesn’t sit down. A song in my ears cuts a hole in my heart and I dance in my head to the next tune I listen to. My thoughts play with each other to distract me from things I can’t change. The digital signs display my designated stop. My mind prepares to stand up without the help of anything or anyone. The poles weep in hard silence after losing their purpose. The double doors open again, this time to let me off.

Writing During The COVID-19 Pandemic


My Life Before and During the Pandemic

For my day to day lifestyle, I have always repeated the same routine which anyone could pronounce as a boring lifestyle. I would set an alarm to wake by 6 am at most. I usually wake earlier than 6 am most times and when I don’t feel sleepy anymore, I pick up books to read, listen to music or rather have my school works done. I know quite well that most of my classes starts from 8:30 am on a day to day basis, so I have to prepare myself before then. Since I am not really a social-type of person, I bury my heads in books, go for classes, get back late at night if my schedule warrants it, cook meals for my family when am back, relax when I can and prepare for the next day. My weekends are dedicated to my kid brother, Sammy. Since he’s still in high school, he would definitely need help with certain things like school works, and mentoring. My best sports are track & field and long tennis. I stopped playing these sports when I started college last year and haven’t been opportune to play sports since my college is yet to have the equipment’s needed. My parents are workaholics and barely stays home. I have scheduled days in a month that is reserved for grocery shopping and other necessities.

Sitting down with my family at the dinette for dinner, I turned on the TV to channel 25 for the 7 pm CNN newsroom. At first, hearing of the COVID-19 virus didn’t seem to make us worried because the news was only a brief oration about a strange virus that didn’t raise an alarm. After few days, I started taking notes of my environments and the way people took the unexpected virus, I noticed some people took it serious, some said we actually gave the virus more attention than needed. I continued with my day to day lifestyle but COVID-19 gradually became a global issue that requires ultimate attention. My dad who happens to work more often had to stay home constantly. Schools got closed down. Everyone schedules had to changes unexpectedly. Some families now have financial difficulties; some aren’t used to staying home, some students that have part-time jobs had to quit, some students that aren’t used to virtual learning had to abide with the rules, professor had to comply also, a mother of two-three toddlers had to keep up with their kids since there isn’t any daycare opened, and many more. My uncle who traveled to Africa on a business trip got stuck since there isn’t any airline service available for the main time due to COVID-19.

This pandemic did not only cause great loss of people suddenly but efficient steps are also required of every individual in a country. In USA in particular, we were all advised to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, use hand gloves, wear face masks, and adhere to social distance. This actually period of time is the first time I had to use face masks. I wasn’t used to wearing face masks and it got uncomfortable. I had to watch online videos of how to remove hand gloves without one contaminating the other and I thought of others that don’t even know all these or how to use them properly. Since no one knows how long this would last, grocery stores are being cleared out by individuals in order to have enough food at home. The biggest change in my day to day lifestyle was the hours I now use at home instead of on campus. I prefer being on campus than staying home. Meeting with my professors, the smiles on their faces when they see students coming in, learning something new every day, our class verbal discussions, the school club activities, and many more. At times, I meet with students that loves coming to school campus like me because different families go through different phases of problems and coming to school is the only time they can at least get their mind off their problems. I considered everything, how this COVID-19 changed everything. However, even now that there isn’t an assurance of a definite date all these would end, student, professors, families can only hang on because we would all get through these hard times together. From my perspective, united we stand – united we overcome. All we need to do is to stay strong and safe.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted me and Family

Since the pandemic arrived in the U.S a lot has changed. Families are been separated due to isolation, health condition or even death, financial status has been impacted when employees that used to go out there to provide for the country, for their family were forced to stay home. In addiction in some of the cases thanks to technology there are still ways to provide from home since there are a lot of job that consist on working behind a electronic devices by devices i refer to computers, phone or tablets.

In my personal experience i had to stop working, i had as a part time a delivery job where i was able to use my car deliver food for people and also work for a building company but that delivery job i had to stop it due to my past history why asthma. I went out to work for the first week and my parents were suffering because they did not want me to catch the virus, i was mad in the beginning because i was taking all the restriction needed covering my mouth and hands with gloves and mask but it was not until the following week that i decided to stay home and sacrifice my extra income for my health and also the health of others in my house if that was the case. It’s been 3 weeks since the last time i went out side and in the beginning was frustrating and annoying but little by little i settled. Since my income was cut and i still need to deal with bills and i will have to find ways to make these payments happen.

Adding to the story we still dealing with a issue in my family and that is the fact that my brother is a truck driver over the road. I never had an idea how important is for everyone on earth these drivers and how much this could affect if they stop. It’s makes two weeks tomorrow that my brother left to work and haven’t being able to make it back because they just send him away and away and when he thinks that he would make it home they again ask him for a extra help, he is save but is stressing the fact that we are not able to see him as much as we used to. His routine changed for coming at least twice home to being out for almost 14 days. Last week was my father birthday and we cut him a small cake and we called him on Face-time and he hanged up before crying. He called me the day after he called me and he said that he will never put money over family and there is nothing more important for him now than just come home and see all of us. He is very quite and it took me by surprise that he opened up like this with me he is not that sentimental but it did happen when all this forced him.

Writing During the COVID-19 Pandemic


This spring, The Buzz on City Tech’s OpenLab will provide a space for students to write and share their stories about life during conditions and restrictions of the current COVID-19 Pandemic. This pandemic, and its current severity in New York City, has affected everyone in different ways and to different degrees.

You are invited to share your story on this site, offering others a glimpse into your experience. You might share a story about yourself or your loved ones who are grappling with distress or describe how your everyday life and routines have changed due to health concerns and requirements for physical distancing. You might also write about ways that you have managed to find a sense of contentment or learned new strengths or skills you didn’t know you had. You are also encouraged to read and comment on the posts written by others within this OpenLab community.

Do remember, that after you join the project, your stories and comments posted will be visible to users on the OpenLab, who we hope will be encouraged by your participation and also join in the conversation. We hope this writing project will help you and others reflect on this experience and feel less isolated during this challenging time.

To post:

If you have not created a post on the OpenLab, the directions are as follows:

  • Join The Buzz project site
  • Click the plus (+) sign at the top of the site
  • A fillable box should appear for you to enter a title for your story and a text box to tell your story.
  • Press “Save” when you’re done, and a moderator will review your post, give it the appropriate tags, and publish! 

Note: If you wish to add an image to your post, there are several ways to do it, but we recommend hosting your image on an external site like Flickr or Imgur, and embedded it into your post from there. This helps us save storage space on The Buzz. Directions for how to do this can be found about halfway down on this page in our Help documentation.

If you prefer, you can also upload your writing as a file using the form below.

If you have questions, feel free to contact the organizers of this project:

Submit to The Buzz

If you wish to upload your writing about COVID-19 as a file instead of writing a post, please do so here!
  • What name, if any, would you like to be associated with your writing? We can also post anonymously.
  • Max. file size: 10 MB.
    Please upload a doc, docx, txt, or rtf file with the writing you would like to share here!