The coronavirus pandemic has changed the college experience for students across the country. It has been a difficult semester with online classes, not many friend-gatherings, and an increased sense of loneliness. Now that holidays are here, students from South Florida are coming home to even more uncertainty.
Samantha Puterman, 21, a junior at Boston University, is coming back to Miami during winter break to be with her family.
“I am excited to see my family, but I am nervous about infecting them, especially my grandmother, because we usually spend a long time together,” she said.
Since Puterman does face-to-face classes, she is required to get tested for coronavirus three times a week. However, she will also get tested a couple of days after arriving in Miami to make sure she is not putting her family at risk.
She said she had not seen her parents for over a year.
“We are finally reuniting in Miami during winter break,” she said. “We are not planning any trip as we usually did before corona because we want to stay with our cousins and enjoy the holidays together.”
Puterman decided not to visit her family during Thanksgiving because her parents did not want her to travel back and forth. Besides, the break was not long enough to be in quarantine before meeting her family.
Lori Sharabani, 19, a sophomore at the University of Florida, went back to Miami for Thanksgiving, and she plans to stay home for the holidays until the beginning of next term.
“I am happy to go back home, and I am very excited to see my family,” said Sharabani. “I was definitely worried to infect them, so I made sure to take a COVID-19 test before leaving UF.”
Sharabani said that it has been challenging to meet people on-campus due to virtual learning and because many students got the virus recently, she spent much time in her apartment.
She has traveled many times to Miami during the semester because sometimes she felt alone on campus.
“It has been a tough semester,” said Sharabani. “We want to enjoy the holidays together as a family, so we are planning to go on a road trip around Florida to avoid flying.”
Veronica Raga, 22, a senior at the University of Berkeley, California, is returning to her home in Miami to spend time with her parents for Christmas.
“I’m very excited to go back home, and I am, of course, taking precautions to make sure I won’t infect my family,” said Raga. “I am terrified of what would happen if I got them sick.”
Raga decided to go back to college in early August because she was too scared to live with her parents. She decided to go back home for Christmas, and she will take at least three COVID-19 tests before her flight.
“I want to go to Miami, but all my plans have completely changed. I usually see all my friends for lunch or at the beach and go out to bars and clubs every weekend,” said Raga.
Raga will stay home for the holidays. She will celebrate Christmas with her cousins, who also plan to stay home and do the test before reuniting with the family.
“This time, although it does annoy and bother me, I have decided to do the mature thing and see as few people as possible,” said Raga.