Denissza already shared her experiences and concerns regarding environmental protection in her previous article (read it here). Back then she was awaiting her final exam, then the pandemic hit, but she had to graduate nevertheless. They even had a banquet afterwards – with due precautions in place. Denissza Czire shares her experiences from the last month of high school.

“Pandemic” is a heavy word. People use it when they want to emphasize that what’s happening right now is really happening all over the globe. Not that it’s difficult to pronounce, but you know, it sounds quite frightening. But what else could we call an outbreak with such a stupid name like Corona, about which I couldn’t take the first facebook posts seriously because it’s called that?

I was enduring the last hour of my mandatory study session (I used to live in a dorm) on March 11th. I think I was reading a book that I haven’t been able to return to the library since. Yeah, back then I was still in the mood for reading. Through my headphones, I was listening to the conspiracy theories: that there will be a lockdown of Budapest, that university students are crowding at bus stops, as within a few hours bus services would also stop. Of course, a “louder voice” hushed the agitators advising against conjecture and telling us that we’ll be provided with the necessary info by the school, even though they haven’t been informed themselves yet. A “quieter voice” was trying to persuade the loud ones that students should be sent home and to take the situation seriously because it’s a Pandemic. I felt like the protagonist of a new apocalypse show.

We’ve been told that already next week, we might stop going to school. At that point it was still hard to believe, but we were sure that if we didn’t come back next week, we’d stay out of school for the whole semester.

But we did return! To grab our stuff, as we had to move out of the dorm. School continues by distance education from now on. The Man said that Hungary’s education system is prepared for distance learning, while I was crying on my boyfriend’s shoulder because I thought I wouldn’t be able to graduate. I’m sure that Árpád, our dear retired chemistry teacher, who fires up his WinXP PC at the beginning of class and asks us where to plug the flash drive, is only asking because he can’t see very well anymore.

Source: Denissza Czire

We received a schedule that I didn’t understand. Regardless, I got up every morning at 8:45 to be able to check in for my zoom classes at 9. Day by day it became harder to pick up the pace. 45 became 54, and the scrambled eggs with salad and coffee was reduced to a banana or noting. Often, I lost track of homework and papers, I couldn’t figure out what was what. In school I could always maintain a GPA of 3 so I can call myself fortunate, but still, distance learning wasn’t as straightforward as learning stuff at school. Overall, it was OK. My teachers and classmates were helpful; those who wanted to learn could do so. My preparation for the final exam was going well, we exchanged notes and helped each other a lot. I was just about to put up with the situation when it was announced that we’d only have a written exam.

That’s not what I expected. For four years, I’ve been telling everyone that I’d use the oral exam to make up for my poor written exam. In the beginning, many were happy with the decision, but then they were fewer and fewer. Of course, there’s never a solution that makes everyone happy, I reassured myself.

My daily routine, along with the ink in my marker and my will to live, was deteriorating. I envied my parents who could go to work, fortunately. Even if they were working for half the pay, in a situation like that, you’ve got to be grateful. For having a bed to sleep in, for clean water, food and our health. I hope you won’t condemn me for saying that this all didn’t make me happy. The bed only reminded me of my idleness, and the delicious food only reminded me of the pounds I’d put on.

I straightened my curly hair more and more often, but it also happened that, after a night spent with studying math and watching a few episodes of a series, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror and I had to hold myself back so I wouldn’t buzz all my treasured hair off.

I couldn’t see my love, my friends, my family. Then again, I was lucky to be locked up with my sister, so at least I had more than the houseplants to talk to.

And what about language exam equivalence, Aloe?

Source: Denissza Czire

It was definitely good to return to the dorm for the exam, even if I was alone in a six-bed room and shouting over to another girl next door when I wanted to talk to someone. It was good to see and hug each other again, keeping a strict 5-foot distance, of course.

The coronavirus peak was predicted for the first day of the exam. The school was prepared. Masks, gloves and foil-covered tables awaited us, along with so much hand sanitizer that, if edible, could have ended world hunger alone. What could the pandemic be like for them? … Hey, you need to focus! Even if you’re already dizzy from the damp air under your mask. The reforms of Charles Robert.

It was as if the pandemic had begun to subside after the exam. The stress eased, and I sometimes left the house. I met those I couldn’t meet before, and I could see my grandma from the car with the windows down. It didn’t even seem that bad anymore, but of course, everything seems simpler in retrospect and as an outside observer. In hindsight, I too was happy that I didn’t have to return for an oral exam. My written exam could’ve gone better, but it was OK. At least my English was good enough to get a certificate.

We even had a banquet! No masks, no distancing, but with only a limited number of people present: the class, teachers, the principal and a few parents. In my graduation speech, I mentioned, smiling, that the recent period had been difficult. The others smiled too, and everyone was happy that it’s over. I’m not a teacher, I don’t have to endure the difficulties of graduation each year, so I cannot judge how much harder it was now than before. Nor do I know if the problem we’re defending against is real at all.

In any case, everyone who was actively involved in the preparation gained a lot of experience. I wish luck to those who’re also applying to higher education. Luckily, I only have to do that next year. It’s cool, it has already been announced that the second season of the series I’m watching is coming around winter.

Source of featured image:

Translation by Ádám Hittaller

16310cookie-checkThis is how graduation during the pandemic was like