By Olha Viun, Ugrad Student at Chatham, Spring 2020
Olha wrote this essay for the English Language Program Writing Contest and received an honorable mention.
Experience has shown that the best stories are personal ones: tremendous achievements, unexpected surprises and little misfortunes – everything is touching if it produces a strong impression on a reader. Building on this, let us take a glimpse at my way of looking for happiness during hard times. Oh, I have almost forgotten: my name is Alexandra, I am from Norway, and I have never expected such an unforeseen twist and turns of events in my life connected with … Well, you will find out soon with what.
April, 2019. Norway
“The weather promises to be nice: it’s gonna be 70°F,” says the TV hostess cheerfully. I finally make up my mind to take a breath of fresh air, and unwind after all the hustle and bustle of the studying process. After a while, I went to park, and when my thoughts were far away from present-day reality, someone called me on the phone:
“WOW, WHAT, NO WAY!” was my first reaction when I found out that I would study in the USA in a year. It meant to be an opportunity of a lifetime. It meant. Meant.
March, 2020. USA
“We have the strongest COVID19 testing system!” says CNN.
“The world faces the biggest pandemic of all time!” rattle freaked journalists on Fox News.
“On the top of all that, even ‘Shrek’ isn’t on Netflix!” disappointedly says my roommate, who is obviously not in such authority as news channels but is right for 100%.
Death after death, COVID19, COVID19, COVID19 – STOP! I. want. To. Be. Happy. Right now. Right here. Isolation is not a big deal. Destiny is destiny, and if it is giving me a ‘welcoming’ present in the guise of global pandemic, I accept it.
“How to pave the way to happiness in this inevitable isolation?” was my first logical question. “What is my hobby? Right, studying!”. After a while I add, “And that’s awfully pathetic… But still, I can… I can gather all my friends and even teachers to study online together, take various courses and improve ourselves! Isn’t that great?” Well, it was one of the greatest ideas of mine. After this splendid thought, I figuratively started taking lemons and making lemonade: looking for online courses, writing to people who might be interested in self-education, and creating a motivational environment for myself.
Speaking of environment, it is fortunate that I can study online: no distractors, no noise and no pressure on me. However, time pressure is the only tension: deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Always having positive attitude to life and my passion for studying particularly, my motto is, “The stronger the wind blows, the tougher a tree has to be.” Therefore, if COVID quarantine gets harder, my time devoted to education increases as well. No time neither for procrastination nor sadness: just find your middle ground where you feel comfortable learning something new. On this positive note, I close my eyes, but when I wake up…
April, 2020. Norway
‘Whoosh, Alexandra, materialized here again, huh?’, at this moment I see myself as a NASA astronaut who jumps into the future and travels through time: after observing a classified virus that is threatening to all humankind, I return to my home country, safe and sound. The irony is that COVID19 is here as well. So, it was not time travel but a severe reality instead. In these difficult times, everyone needs remedy. I also need one. What is mine? Happiness. Happiness from my ability to study, to learn something new and develop in this worldwide imprisonment.
April, right now, 2020.
I have paved the way to happiness, have you?