Quarantined: Unexpected finale, Part 4
Editor’s note: When we reached out to our students to see how they were doing, some were already embracing their #QuarantineAndChill. Others let us know that they had run out of chill, and rightfully so. This was especially true for those set to graduate this year.
Just when dental school life was supposed to be ramping up and winding down—spring break, board exams, celebrations, graduation—the coronavirus crisis changed everything. “Stay home, stay safe” became the quarantine mantra.
In this series of firsthand accounts, Texas A&M College of Dentistry students share how their vacation plans went south, how they’re staying sane and how they strive to find silver linings. Through humor and even frustration, they offer sympathies for our graduating class, as well as best wishes to those who will return next year.
D4 Simi Mathur
As a first-year dental student in 2016, the year 2020 held such promise for me. Any time I felt defeated after a hard test or a dental anatomy wax-up exercise that ended up resembling more of an abstract blob than a tooth, I thought about how I would be graduating in four short years and the sense of accomplishment I would feel walking across the stage to receive my diploma.
Well, fast-forward four years and to say my last semester of my dental school career is not what I expected is quite the understatement. I don’t think anyone could have expected a mass pandemic would take over the world and cause not only our school to shut down, but also our licensing exams and graduation ceremonies to be postponed.
Just to make matters even more interesting, my fiancé and I have been planning a wedding for about a year and a half, which was planned to happen right smack dab in the middle of this chaos. Well, time for some perspective.
I can’t be all that upset about how this virus has changed my plans because it has affected other people’s lives a lot more severely. Jobs have been lost, the stock market has plummeted, people are sick and, most importantly, the death toll rises daily. How can all of this be the result of an organism that you would need an extremely strong microscope to even see?
So how do we handle this unprecedented situation? We all have different methods of coping. For me personally, I have tried to focus on the positives and recalibrate my priorities. Before this pandemic, the guest count for my wedding was rapidly getting out of control, even by Indian wedding standards. My parents, with their possibly overgenerous hearts, were extending invitations to, what seemed like, everyone in sight. Then Texas Gov. Greg Abbott put his foot down. “No more than 10 people can come to your wedding!” he exclaimed to the entire state, just to drive the point home. Both my dad and my fiancé breathed a huge sigh of relief simultaneously.
With statewide restrictions in place and social distancing in full bloom, I had to revisit why I was getting married in the first place and what I wanted from it. I want to make a commitment to my best friend in front of my family and friends. Can’t that still happen? Of course!
We might not be able to have every one of our friends and family physically with us to celebrate, but we know that they send us blessings and wish us the best as we embark on this journey.
The same thought process helps with coming to terms with not having our graduation ceremony as planned. I know that even though my class won’t get to proceed with the normal graduation activities, nothing can take away from our years of hard work to get to this point. If we can make it through this storm as strong, competent dentists, what can’t we overcome?
As we continue to move on and hurdle over obstacles caused by this virus, let us not forget to enjoy the benefits of some forced time off. Spending time with loved ones, working in pajamas and weight loss from having to consume our own cooking are just a few of the unexpected gifts that have been dropped in our laps. Just remember to wash your hands in the meantime.
—D4 Simi Mathur