OPINION: When plans can change: How to Cope With The Coronavirus Pandemic


Elle Love

Despite the disappointment, a lesson emerged: live in the moment. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

When I started the 2020 year, I came in with hopes for fun memories, new experiences and a visit to another country to develop a unique cultural experience.

With the COVID-19 pandemic plans suddenly changed, and you can’t control the direction that life can take. You can learn to adapt, but it isn’t easy.

Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to know what the world would be like outside of a small city like Omaha. My dad would always tell me what it would be like to finally be free and explore wherever I wanted to go.

I wanted to create my own travel experience by traveling to London through the Global Media Communications class. Going to London was a dream for me. I could leave the country for a new experience while I had free time as a college student.

I had already taken out my student loans for this trip. I was in the process of getting my passport and bought many travel essentials while attending after-class meetings about the trip. I even enjoyed the after-class travel meetings discussing where would be the best place to eat and learning great tips for a comfortable experience.

As the COVID-19 crisis got worse, the excitement for the trip was slowly decreasing – now replaced with fear and despair. I tuned in on my phone, laptop and TV to hear more updates about the status of the virus every day, hoping there was a way it could get better.

With the talks of campus closing almost in every classroom conversation I had with other students, we shared similar fears of what will happen to our classes and how graduation will play out for our peers graduating in May. But on the day of March 12, my fear became a reality.

Emails and notification messages popped up on my phone while I went on with my normal school day. There were announcements of cancellations. When I opened the email regarding the London Trip, it confirmed what I knew would happen and my heart started to sink:

“Your health, safety and well-being are our number one priority as new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are reported in the United States and around the world.  On 11 March 2020, the U.S. State Department issued a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” Global Advisory regarding coronavirus. In response, UNO has suspended any university-sponsored study abroad programs for student travel outside the continental U.S. and Hawaii thru June 30, 2020.  This includes all university-related study abroad programs with travel on or before June 30, 2020,” the email read.

I felt disappointed because I wanted a fun, exciting cultural experience this year, but I understood that it was bad timing and there’s nothing anyone can do but to adapt to the changes. It taught me a valuable lesson: live in the moment.

No one could have predicted or prepared for a global pandemic. We all had plans at one point of what 2020 could mean for us, including graduation, traveling, job opportunities, etc.

Just because plans are thrown off by natural circumstances doesn’t mean we can’t learn to adapt. Nothing is set in stone, and we will be thrown off by whatever obstacles life throws in front of us. However, learning adaptability can create less stress and despair for you during rough times like these.

Lifehack website provides practical advice for planning during uncertain situations:

  1. Redefine what you are trying to accomplish by figuring out if your original goal is still valid or needs to change to reflect the new situation you’re facing and what you can control.
  2. Figure out what fundamentals still hold by looking at the plans that remain unaffected.
  3. Stay mentally active and engaged by accessing information, adding to your knowledge as appropriate and moving on. There can be tendencies to shut down in uncertain situations – don’t let that prevent you from making clear decisions.
  4. Take a break from the news or social media every once in a while and distract yourself with something fun like TV or video games.
  5. Increase your ability to maneuver by prioritizing early decisions and actions that have more flexible solutions.
  6. Finally, it’s also important to learn how to advance with information and be open to adapting as you go. In uncertain situations it isn’t easy to act, but it’s beneficial to you and those depending on you.

As disappointed as I am with the way things happened this year, I took a lesson along with it that I can use for the rest of my life. Live in the moment.