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College Life

How will the Declining Travel Industry Bounce Back From COVID-19?

Conor Krouse

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Airplane for United Airlines flying over a vast landscape with human settlement far off in the distance

The International and national travel industries hit a slump due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, efforts are now being made to revitalize the industry. From hotels and resorts to modes of transportation such as flight agencies, and Amtrak, prices are low and sales have plummeted. 

Over the course of the pandemic, sales dropped drastically throughout the entire industry. Many airlines and public transit companies also completely ceased operations for a temporary time. Shares in many of these airlines and travel agencies also plummeted. 

United Airlines, one of the largest flight corporations in the world, shares dropped from a peak of 82.20 to a rock bottom 21.38 U.S. dollars in a single month. This occurred between February and March of 2020. Another decline was seen in Marriott. One of the world’s largest hotel chains, stretching over every continent with over 5.5k locations, took a dip from 150.78 to 63.81 U.S. dollars in this same time frame.

These slumps are temporary of course. As of September 10, 2020, the United States has elected to cease COVID-19 screenings in all domestic airports, thus aiding the travel industry. Symptom screenings will still be conducted, however, it will be on a much easier, and more efficient scale for the CDC. With this being said, health and safety is still a large priority in protecting the US from another peak of the virus. Every effort is still being made to prevent a wider spread and to ensure control of the virus.

Marriot Hotel  at night, dimly lit with no one in sight - showing the effects of covid-19 on the hotel.
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“Aviation and travel-industry groups in the U.S. and Europe are separately attempting to reopen international travel routes by imposing some type of rapid virus testing, either before people leave or as they arrive.”

With efforts put in place to still maintain health standards within the country, travel all over the US is opening up. From the perspective of a current college student, cheap travel is a blessing. Hotels are almost half their normal listed prices. For example, a high-rise hotel suite in downtown Manhattan, New York, is currently listed at 115 U.S. dollars compared to the usual 211 U.S. dollars. 

In beach towns all across the East Coast of the US, hotel rates are a bottom dollar. We’re at the very beginning of what vacation spots call the “shoulder season.” That being the end of the vacationer, tourist rush, and into the cheaper pricing points where many small hotel chains close for the season. However, as of late, the shoulder season has been prolonged. With warm weather still upon the Mid-Atlantic region, now is the time to travel. Companies are desperately seeking for customers. 

Finally, Amtrak is now reopening business as well. Starting September 14, monthly, ten-ride, and six-ride multiple ride ticket holders will have access to all business trains. However, only these pre-reserved ticket options will be allowed on their trains for a limited time.

Pre-existing symptoms and COVID-19 trackers will be sent out to any and all travelers, prior to arrival to ensure safety and a virus-free environment. Prices for these monthly rates have not been raised or lowered, however, the value is extremely high. For a six-ride multi-ticket, six rides are available for a 45-day stretch. Amtrak is also in the process of expanding the rail system. 

Amtrak train going down the railway out in the western United States, with desert plants all around the track
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Now is quite possibly the best time to get a 10-ride or even monthly multi-ticket ride for Amtrak’s services. Travel is fun, relaxing, and you see far more of the country than you ever would from the air. It is the ultimate adventure.

“Amtrak’s chief executive pleaded with House lawmakers Wednesday to approve $2.84 billion in additional funding for the national railway system as Congress and the White House fight over another round of coronavirus stimulus.” 

The travel industry has and will always be prevalent in America, however, the COIVD-19 pandemic has taken a toll. Right now, prices are extremely low, quite possibly the lowest in history. Now, as the vaccines are being developed and people are beginning to return to normal life, travel has returned as a necessity. Now is the time to venture out, and see the places on your bucket list. Hotels are available, and transportation is cheap and safe. 

Keep in mind, if you do venture out of your homes, off-campus, remember to do so carefully. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

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College Life

5 Ways College Students Can Combat Depression and Anxiety Due to COVID-19

Conor Krouse

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A young lady with long dark curly hair wearing a white T shirt with a design on it having stress and anxiety with her MAC computer.
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Wear a mask, stay in your rooms, don’t go off campus, sanitize in every building, remain six feet apart; campus life is not like it has ever been before. COVID-19 has affected college life drastically. The thrill of moving in, meeting new friends in your hall, going out and having a good time, and adventuring across campus without fear of the unknown is no longer. Day by day, anxiety and depression are becoming even more prevalent across college campuses.

Below are a few ways to manage this stressful and purely exhausting time as a college student. Whether you’re at home taking online courses or on campus, there is always an outlet to ease your mind.

#1: Talk to friends, both virtually and socially-distant.

Socialization has become increasingly hard, especially on a college campus, where you arrive with the hopeful mindset of seeing new faces, making new connections, and doing new activities; to not have that is brutal.

However, in today’s society, with the help of FaceTime, Skype, video game chat rooms, and phone calls, there are so many ways to communicate. Not only that but what is the best way to connect with someone? Over a meal, of course. Go out and grab a meal with a friend or even an acquaintance that you hope to become closer to.

It’s easy to say you’re lonely, but it’s hard to not be. Make the extra effort, even if it is weird and unnatural, and make that phone call, or sit outside with someone.

#2: Find a new hobby.

This semester is odd for living standards for many colleges. It is with these changes, however, that every student has the opportunity for a new hobby. Going into this semester, I had no knowledge of who my suitemates were in my dorm building.

However, due to being stuck with each other constantly, we developed some new fun habits. Some of these include my suitemate teaching me to play guitar, as well as sharing our favorite TV shows and music tastes. With all of the private time we have been given, it has become easier than ever to find a new passion.

#3: Explore your home turf.

If you’re on a college campus, chances are you are close to, if not connected or within, what is known as a “college town.” Now is probably the best time to go and see what there is to do within these towns.

While most small businesses are closed and there are low numbers of people within the streets of towns or city centers, go and see what there is to offer. Even make a plan with some friends for the future! Of course, make sure you’re still doing everything at a distance.

#4: Exercise!

I’m sure many people have been hearing about this one a lot, but exercise has and will always be a key factor in personal health. There are hundreds of at-home workout regimens that you can find all across the internet.

Whether you’re aiming for weight loss, muscle toning, or just generally getting in shape, everything is accessible at the click of a button. It is not only good for your body; exercise helps with just about every piece of your psyche as well. The proper amount of physical activity aids sleep, stress, and general serotonin levels. So, get active, and give yourself some time for self-improvement.

#5: Document the Little Things.

Quarantine has made it extremely difficult to see the bright side of many situations. One factor that has led to my overall happiness is a bit of journaling. Oftentimes we don’t see the good within the current bad state of affairs of our lives.

By striving to find the good things and writing them down, even if it’s as simple and trivial as you drinking a glass of water, write down the positives of each and every day. The ability to look back and be happy with events not only allows you to stay in tune with your surroundings, but it is also a fantastic reminder that diamonds in the rough really do occur.

College life is a time of a complete change. And now, more than ever, feelings of social anxiety and loneliness have swept college campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tips listed above are simply the groundwork for ways to maintain yourself and a good attitude during the course of the COVID-19 semester. Of course, not all of these will help, and some are more distractions. But that’s fine, as it is just a start. Maintain good faith, keep spirits high, and, once again, wear a mask.

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College Life

5 Ways to Celebrate Birthdays Virtually

Nicholas Cordes

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made it anything but easy to gather for special occasions, be it weddings, reunions, or even birthdays. In a year with so much tumult and confusion, birthdays can feel particularly significant. Unfortunately, to limit the spread of the virus, many families and individuals have had to forego their birthday celebrations entirely.

A little boy holding a red plate in his hand, while trying to blow out the candles on his cake, his dad is on the right, and a little dark curly haired girl with a dress is across is on the left.
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However, there is always more than one way to do things, and the challenges and changes in 2020 have given everyone the opportunity to put their creative skills to good use. With the rise of video calls via Zoom and other platforms, families and friends have proven that there are still many ways to celebrate birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1).Virtual Surprise Party

Surprise parties have become a traditional way to celebrate birthdays by now, but the tradition doesn’t have to fade away with the loss of in-person parties. With Zoom, Skype, or Facetime serving as optimal replacements for real-life meetings, it’s all too easy to convince an unsuspecting friend to log on for a virtual surprise party.

Under the guise of a normal business call, anyone can join a meeting with the intent of working, only to find their expectations blown away as they celebrate their birthday in an original, safe way.

Three children looking at their grandfather online while celebrating a birthday virtually during COVID-19.
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2). Joint Virtual Birthday Party

With so many events canceled or missed out on because of COVID-19, it might be difficult to catch up on all of the celebrations when it’s safe to do so. Many people who have anticipated their birthdays for weeks and months may feel disappointed or left out as the current environment discourages celebratory gatherings.

Fortunately, in a time where virtual gatherings are commonplace, celebrating multiple birthdays at once can be a fun, unique way to create a party for many people who might otherwise miss out on their special day, and it gives you the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of virtual celebrations during COVID-19.

A young man with short brown hair and a plaid shirt, and another young man with short black hair watch someone in a video, while celebrating birthdays virtually during COVID 19.
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3). Birthday Care Package

As difficult as it is to gather in person during the times of COVID-19, there is no shortage of ways to communicate with friends and family, and mail is one of the most traditional ways to do so.

If you can’t be with your loved one on their special day, it can be incredibly thoughtful to send them a present or birthday care package for their at-home celebrations.

After they receive it, invite them to join you on a video call to open the package, if possible. It will be a special yet safe way for you to watch the surprise on their face as they open your gift.

A birthday care package containing multiple fashion magazines, a bag of persimmons, a package of coffee, a package of flaky sea salt, candy, tea, and pesto dip, and a big white piece of paper.
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4). Recorded Message

One of the many losses of COVID-19 is face-to-face communication, and many people still experience this, even as others return to work and school. Being unable to meet in person, many people have gone months without hearing their loved ones’ voices.

Around your birthday, it can be especially hard to go without hearing your friends and family wish you well and sing the traditional song.

However, one way to show your love for a friend on their birthday might be through a recorded voice message, a quick and easy way to express your excitement.

The message can be as short or as long as you want, and it can be a very personal way to show your loved one you care on their special day, as well as giving them something to hold on to even after their birthday has passed.

A brunette girl sitting outside on the grass on her cellphone, wearing a dark green shirt, blue shorts, and dark shoes.
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5). Birthday Parade

With the onset of COVID-19 and social-distancing laws, many people got creative with ways to safely visit their friends and family. One of the most popular is the socially-distanced parade, and there have been no shortage of these for birthday celebrations.

These parades can be as grand and creative as you like, with signs and decorations to adorn every car in the line-up. Just invite your loved one to step outside and cheer them on as you ride by. It can create an unforgettable birthday memory during a stressful and dark time.

A car decorated with food and birthday items with four people in the car, driving down the street.
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So much was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, including countless memories and celebrations. However, there are always ways to show our love and support for friends and family, and we have every opportunity to express our creativity for the people in our lives who reach exciting milestones.

Now that everyone has access to Zoom, Skype, and Facetime, friends and family can still create amazing virtual birthday celebrations during COVID-19. With a little brainstorming and work, it’s easy to turn anyone’s birthday into a memory that they’ll never forget, even during a global pandemic.

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College Life

The New College Life: Reflecting on my Siblings’ Experience with Remote Learning

Ivonne Scaglione

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Many screens depicting online learning, graduation, school, and learning

Students studying abroad during the outbreak of COVID-19 had a unique experience dealing with travel bans and new school regulations. My brother was studying abroad in Italy. Andrea, the youngest, was living in her dorm at NYU.

My other sister, Silvia, was working as a professor at a community college in New York City. Though we all live in separate homes in Westchester County, New York, we all share one major experience: living in the college remote learning environment since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

In March 2020, the college life they had always known changed unexpectedly. My siblings and I began to study online. But, their lives changed in a more drastic way than mine. I was used to remote learning; they were not.

I was used to the sedentary home life; they were used to the agitated, turbulent, and exciting life of studying and working in populous cities. My brother had to return from the city of Rome before the semester ended. Andrea left her dorm and her freedom on March 11, when most schools closed due to the pandemic. And, my sister Silvia, stopped commuting to New York City to teach Sociology.

Six months passed, and what they had known of their lives as college students was gone. “Studying in Rome was the greatest and scariest thing of my life,” Angel said. “In Italy, things were getting worse each day. I feel lucky.” Now, Angel gets up in the morning to attend classes in his room where his desk is. “It’s easier to get more distracted when you take online classes,” he said.

Andrea completed her secondary education in Westchester County and was very excited to experience college life at NYU. “I didn’t want to leave my dorm and my school, my friends, but I had to,” she said, disappointed. The college life she dreamed of, only lasted for about seven months before she had to go back home. 

Andrea’s bed at NYU’s dorm with several pillows on top of a striped blanket and pillow sheet set. She spends most of her time here due to remote learning.
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

Angel and Andrea are among the many college students who began studying remotely since March. “Only one of my seven closest friends will be attending classes on campus,” Andrea said. Universities in the city of New York are giving students the option to either study in person or remotely.

The NYU Office of Admission indicated that most of the school’s current college students take at least one class online. It seems clear, as we look at the people around us, that the world of remote learning has expanded. 

Besides students having to adapt to their new learning environment, professors, like Silvia, are also adapting to their new work-life conditions. Many professors like her had no previous experience teaching online.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to keep students engaged,” said Silvia.

She attended virtual trainings by Columbia University that focused on teaching classes online to college students. “It’s important to establish a community in an online classroom,” said Silvia. Building a community is making the class friendly where students feel free to share their thoughts.

The goal of teaching remotely while building a community is for students to feel comfortable enough to reflect on the topics discussed in class freely. “I want to make time and space for them to share their thoughts,” said Silvia determinedly.  Since there is less human interaction with remote learning, it is necessary to build a virtual community to keep that sense of human connection. 

The community college where Silvia teaches offers both classes in person and online; however, her department, Sociology, will be offering only remote learning. “About 83 percent of students in this community college will be studying online this semester,” said Silvia. Counselors and writing centers are seeing students online only and the library is open by appointments only. 

The environment of college life before the pandemic has clearly changed. Yet, in a positive note, Silvia noticed that learning remotely brings flexibility for low-income families. She mentioned that one of her students is a new mother who sometimes asks to shut off her camera to breastfeed her baby.

If there weren’t new opportunities to learn online, there would be less flexibility for her to continue her education. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to remote learning in low-income families too. Lacking a private space to study and WIFI connectivity are among these disadvantages.

“Some of my students have to go inside cars to find a private and quiet place to learn,” said Silvia. 

Recently, Andrea went back to NYU to visit a friend. She realized how much NYU had changed since she left it in March. “There was a COVID Testing Center,” she said surprised. The noisy, vigorous Starbucks was empty.

There are no seating commodities anymore. Students are prohibited to visit another student’s dorm, and as expected, students are mandated to wear masks. She misses the late nights talking with friends, tasting the freedom of college life.

NYU COVID Testing Center - beautiful brown building with man windows overlooking a quiet courtyard with several people walking by
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

As opposed to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, this pandemic came in a good time for education access. The US Department of Education found that 89 percent of all households in the United States have internet access.

About 6.9 million students were taking classes in the Fall semester of 2018. This fall, about 19.7 million students are attending colleges and universities nationwide. We can assume that at least 50 percent of these students are attending classes online. 

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” Biologist Charles Darwin said about his theory on the Survival of the Fittest. As college students pursue their careers online or on campus, they also adapt to be part of a safer future.

Before this time, humanity showed its great resilience to survive wars. Now, college students are fighting a battle against invisible infectious agents. This proves that this generation is tough. This generation fights disease through adaptation. It fights to prevail. It fights for existence. 

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