Life During Hard Times

By Azizul Hakim

Life style of a college student can be stressful and hard at times, especially when you’re at an age when you’re not considered an adult but then again have to start taking responsibilities. As soon as you get into college, you are required to study, work, pay your expenses, look after yourself and have a good GPA. Family gatherings, friend outings, social media all those need to be taken care of too unless your parents are like multimillionaires and you don’t have to work. That’s a different story but majority of college students don’t have a lifestyle like that.

Money is nothing but pieces of paper for students. The way students use paper to write is the same way students spend money. And that can be a very big problem. No one has ever thought of it like that until now when we are scared to go outside and people are dying left and right.

College students don’t have fat bank accounts. People with a fat bank account are least worried. They have savings and they can easily survive. What about college students? Have you ever thought of saving? Was your Nike shoes and fancy clothes more important than saving? You wasting money on buying games which you barely play, was that a good investment? You took loan from the bank and invested in the stock market a couple of months ago. You know lost almost all of that money. The stock market has also crashed. You now know you are in deep trouble. You have payments due, bills to pay and food to buy but no money in your bank account. That’s when we all know we have a problem. A serious one.

You take the MTA although your college is now closed. It’s because you need to go to work. There is nothing you can do. With unemployment rising in millions, losing a job is not worth it. You have no other option but to work. You see the behavior and people around you in the MTA and you are scared to death no matter what. Coughing or sneezing may lead to a big problem. People might attack just because you coughed. Situations are bad and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Despite knowing the fact that using public transportations increases the risk of getting affected, at a point you get used to it because you are going to work. And when you go to work, you’ll eventually come in contact with other people.

Majority of college students work at restaurants or coffee shops or similar type of jobs where getting in contact with people is not so hard after all. At first you question yourself so much about the unnecessary expenses and spending you did but then you realize it’s too late now. You have no other choice but to work. As days pass by, you don’t feel comfortable at all. You feel more scared than nurses and doctors working at hospital because they know what they are dealing with. They know which patients are COVID patients and who is affected. But, what about you? You don’t know who has this virus in them. You interact with so many people. Even the person carrying the virus might not know. What if it’s your co-worker who is working beside you?

You question yourself whether you working is a good idea or not. You’re scared of taking the virus home and passing it on to your family members. But the next day, you wake up and get ready to go to work because you know those bills won’t pay themselves especially when a small part of your family spending is provided by you. Although you’re scared, you have responsibilities. You took bad decisions before while spending money and now you’re just paying the consequences.

A Sunday Afternoon (During the COVID-19 Pandemic)

This post was submitted to The Buzz by a writer identifying themselves as Jasper. Thanks, Jasper! You can also submit your writing anonymously or non-anonymously by filling out the form at the bottom of this post.

As I entered the park silence began to descend! The swish of the car’s tires on the wet highway became background noise to the tweeting and chorusing of the merry red breasted birds.
The silence deepened, closed in by the gray damp filled, misty air hanging around me. The silence wrapped me in a cocoon of tranquility as my feet followed the sandy path that lead away from the paved entrance.
The dripping branches closing in around my path showed the signs of springs renewal. Despite this cool March day, the willow was pushing forth its catkins and the cherry was in full bloom. Whilst the elm showed signs of buds the scrub oak seemed reluctant to join this emerging spring chorus.
Stepping from the woods into an open pasture I was surrounded by hundreds of Canadian geese ferociously tearing at the ground for newly sprung seeds. There journey north, far from over, they were urgent in their searching and unaware of my passing, although one small brood angrily chided the small boy who chased them round and round a tree.
Across the open vistas red clover carpeted the yet stunted grass casting a  somber background to  the colorful daffodils that punched upwards from the earth.
Despite this distraction my damp world remained tranquil and without signs of life other than the solitary policeman, a sentry to the silent playgrounds, baseball fields and tennis courts without their nets, all deserted. Forlorn yellow signs, affixed to the fences supported his mission, declaring the current crisis. NO GROUPS PLAY ALONE.
Happily alone, I continued with a wave.
March 28th, 2020

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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.