Social Media

My Manchester Story

Ania Ksiezyc

by Theresa Hight | May 20, 2020

Covid 19: Finding Light Amid the Crisis

My Story

It was late January; I was waiting in an airport becoming frenzy with excitement to board my plane to begin my semester abroad. I was heading for Ireland, the land full of green hills and cobble stone towns.  It did not come easy. Though I come from a low-income background, I was not going to let my socioeconomic status rape me of my chance to submerse myself into the experiences studying abroad had to offer. I worked hard to apply for many scholarships, including the Benjamin A. Gilman. Without the Gilman, the likely hood of my spring semester being spent abroad would have been relatively slim. The Gilman works to broaden the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. When I heard about the Gilman I worked hard during my application and was so thankful to have received the award. After all the hard work of applying to scholarships and wrapping up first semester of junior year, the excitement for Ireland was more real than I could even begin to describe.

Arriving at the Dublin airport was the coolest experience, after eight hours of air travel I was eager to see what has been waiting for me! I had to board a bus once I got to Ireland and luckily, I met with a few others from other parts of America who were also heading to Maynooth University. We all safely arrived in the small town of Maynooth. Wow. The architecture of Ireland was breath taking. I fell in love deeply with what surrounded me. The University was similar to Manchester with professors enthusiastic about connecting with students. This truly made me feel at home. After about one month during my stay in Ireland I began to really open up and started exploring the great city of Dublin and checking out local shops. However, as more days went on the talk of Coronavirus kept growing. Events started to get canceled and worry hung over our heads.

3:00 a.m. on the day of March 12th I jump out of bed in a panic. My phone blasted with emails and several calls from family members all worried because of the U.S. boarder closing due to COVID-19. Waking up to emergency departure requirements from the country I worked hard to be in was one of the biggest disappointments in my life. I had to leave with in the next 5 days and was very fortunate to find an open flight. I spent my last few days going to my favorite places to eat and saying goodbye to everyone. I walked through an empty airport, boarded my flight and just like that I was on my way back to the U.S. It was amazing when I landed on U.S. soils because at that point, I knew I was safe and I was going to see everyone I love again.

 The Light Amid the Crisis

COVID-19 has brought much uncertainty and huge lifestyle changes for everyone globally. However, I feel instead of drowning in the negativity we can learn to observe the greatness around us. Especially on the perseverance and strength many organizations have maintained during these troubling times. Both Manchester University and Maynooth University have shown what it means to keep the ball rolling with unexpected and drastic circumstances. I want to highlight a few of the great things both my university at home and my university abroad has done to make us students feel secure and able to finish this semester strong.

Communication:
During a crisis like this, it can be easy to want to clock out and give up. But this is far from what I have seen from both Manchester and Maynooth University. I have had professors schedule online video chats with me from Manchester to make sure I have returned safely and to just check it. My professors at Maynooth have had such a “go with the flow” attitude when it came to any of concerns regarding class work. Let’s not forget about the consistent updates both university Presidents have provided for us students and concerned parents. I am entirely grateful for the staff at both Universities.

Campus Life:
Let us talk about campus life. I know what you may be thinking, “Um… There is no campus life?” Actually, both Manchester and Maynooth have done an excellent job at providing alternative online activities for students to escape the daily stress of COVID-19. At Manchester, the department of student involvement has been putting on fun online events and even clubs like Kenapocomoco still hold their regular meetings through Zoom. Similar things are happening through Maynooth University. Maynooth’s International Office provided “tea and chat” events when I was on campus in Ireland and they have now moved their events into an online chat. Its really amazing to know that staff are still working hard for all of us when they too must be feeling the stress of COVID-19.  

In the End:
At the end of the day, these are the things we need to look for and focus on. Even someone like me who has had an amazing opportunity taken from me can see the light and positivity. I know we aren’t all in the same circumstances but let’s challenge our human capabilities and find the strength from the small amounts of greatness surrounding us. Forgive yourself when times get tough and you break down. Encourage yourself to jump back up and focus on the light!