Advice, Lifestyle

An homage to the past year and a half

My feet have touched Boston soil, my eyes have seen the towering buildings of Warren Towers and West Campus and my ears have heard the dinging bell of the T. 

I’m officially back, and just writing those three words makes me want to collapse into a sobbing mess once again. 

I left 544 days ago, thinking I’d be back in a month. All I brought with me back home was my backpack and essentials as well as a small suitcase. I was prepared for change, even though I didn’t have much of a clue about what to expect. What I was not prepared for, however, was for this pandemic to get serious so fast and for so long.

March 2020 to August 2021 was not easy. I had some great moments where I was exhilarated to be back and spend time with my family and high school friends, but I often found myself waking up the next morning with an empty feeling in my stomach because there just wasn’t much to look forward to. 

This past year and a half made me realize just how much I had formed an attachment to not only Boston University but to my peers here as well. Simple things like walking back to my dorm from the Fitness Recreation Center with music blasting in my ears or pretending to study in cafes always brought me the most joy. So being constantly stuck at home and lacking social interaction didn’t bode well for my mental health.

Commonwealth Avenue from the Blandford St. T stop
A view of the Boston skyline from the Blandford Street station. Michelle Tian reflects on her time back home and her long-anticipated return to campus after taking a year-and-a-half-long hiatus. COLE SCHONEMAN/ DFP FILE

I will admit that what was hardest for me was to learn that so many of my BU friends had gone back to school. It made sense – most of them lived near the campus while I was a seven-hour plane flight away —  but to see pictures of them in my old dorm building or studying on the COM Lawn made me notice just how much I was missing out on.

People like to say that college is the best four years of your life, and the short time I spent on campus during freshman year seemed to live up to that expectation. It made me really upset when I figured out I’d only have two full years where I was actually present on campus. 

Besides sulking around and complaining about the current situation, I tried my best to keep myself busy. I found a shockingly large amount of TV shows to binge-watch and also got back into reading, a hobby I never thought I’d pick up again. My family and I spent some much-needed time together. I moved out of my house of 16 years. I was able to learn how to cook a few mediocre meals.

While the past year and a half was probably the most difficult chapter of my life, I found that as long as I had distractions to keep myself from thinking of what I was missing, things never seemed that bad. I’m lucky enough that the people I’ve surrounded myself with were the epitome of support and loyalty and were intent on making sure my optimism never once dimmed. 

That being said, the moment I came back to Boston, it felt like an eruption of butterflies in my stomach. While this place isn’t home, it’s always felt like my comfort zone, and I hadn’t understood just how much I missed this particular part of the world until I was landing on the tarmac at Boston Logan International Airport and looking out the window at the glowing city lights in the middle of the night.

I would say it was surreal, but even that word seems to fall short of how I was feeling. I’m relieved, ecstatic, and most of all, happy to be back. And while there are some parts of the past year and a half that I will surprisingly miss, I feel like I’m finally exactly where I need to be.

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