Editorial | A letter to myself: Reflecting two years of COVID-19

The Daily Iowan Opinions section reflects on the challenges and lessons they’ve encountered two years into the pandemic.


Katie Goodale

Students walk on the Pentacrest on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The university will be suspending classes until at least April 3, 2020 and will be moving instruction online amidst concerns around coronavirus.

DI Opinions Staff

No one knew that when COVID-19 swept across the world, life would never be the same. We thought there would be an “end.” We thought life would go back to “normal.” We never expected to still be living in a pandemic two years later.

For University of Iowa students, our experiences have been unique. Some of us are seniors who got to have only a full year of the “normal” college experience. Others of us are underclassmen, and have yet to live that experience.

As we hit the 2-year mark of COVID-19, The Daily Iowan Opinions section reflects on the lessons, experiences, and hardships we have faced through the pandemic.

A photo of Yasmina Sahir.

Hey. Hey you.

Yeah, you thinking about not wearing a mask today.

I know it seems easier. Insisting on what benefits your health puts another target on your back with a nonremovable “other” label on this campus. People can roll their eyes or complain at your requests. Keep advocating for your safety on campus.

You aren’t a burden. Your conditions aren’t your fault. You have a right to safe learning environments, too.

While everyone else goes back to their version of normal, don’t allow yourself to fall into wishful thinking and copy their actions. COVID-19 is still dangerous to you.

Wear your mask, keep your distance, and graduate. Find a college that does better to protect students like you. Find a university community who cares.

On June 8, you’ll have hit four years of remission. Then, one year until tumor free. Inshallah. Stay healthy for this celebration. You’ve almost made it.

That’s why you wear your mask. It’s okay to feel alienated, disgruntled, or even scared. Don’t let those feelings encourage harmful decisions.

You matter.


Yasmina Sahir, Opinions Columnist

Opinions and amplify editor Hannah Pinski.

You never knew that there’s probably not going to be an end to the pandemic and the experiences that are to come during your college career.

You thought 2020 was going to be the hardest, but you didn’t know 2021 was going to put you through some of your toughest challenges. The pandemic isn’t over, but we’ve made progress. Yes, there have been tears. But there are vaccines. There are booster shots. There’s hope.

But you ended up in a better place, one that you had no idea you needed. You’ve gotten amazing opportunities, found new connections with friends, and rediscovered yourself.

Keep looking ahead, you’ve got this.


Hannah Pinski, Opinions and Amplify Editor

Opinions columnist Sophia Meador.

My senior year of high school ended abruptly because of COVID-19. Just two short years later, the end of the omnipresent virus seems within reach.

As I near my sophomore year of college, I hope the second half of my higher-education journey is different.

I want to see my classmates’ faces. I don’t want to get a COVID-19 test every time I have a sore throat. I want to sit in a lecture and not worry about getting sick. I want to see my parents on the weekends without the fear of possibly infecting them.

My desires are not unique, and I imagine every other student wants this experience.

But in Iowa, the end of COVID-19 seems impossible. If our leaders choose to follow their own agenda and not follow the guidance of scientists, it’s hard to imagine the virus ever passing. As much as I want to move beyond COVID-19, we all need to be smart about the actions and decisions we make now, because they will affect our future.

I want my college experience to end differently than how it began. But that’s only possible if everyone does their part.


Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

Opinions columnist Luke Krchak.

When the end of your junior year of high school moves online, you think it will be for two weeks. It will turn into two years. Unfortunately, you will miss out on the traditional, exciting moments of your life, like high school graduation, and taking your first steps on campus as a freshman at the university you have always wanted to go to as a kid growing up in Iowa City.

The pandemic will make you realize that you don’t need life to be a certain way to enjoy it. You’ll still get to enjoy things like having your first story published and working as a columnist for the DI. No matter how bad life or the world gets, there will always be good, you just have to find it.


Luke Krchak, Opinions Columnist

Opinions columnist Yassie Buchanan.

Two years ago, you couldn’t have imagined coming home from studying abroad because of a pandemic. A year later, you wouldn’t have imagined people would refuse, not only to wear masks, but the very thing we begged for to return back to “normal:” vaccines.

You could not have imagined how the pandemic would continue even after vaccines became available. Clearly, the past two years have taught us there are a lot of things in the world we cannot control, but you and the world will find a way to grow through it.


Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

Opinions contributor Signe Nettum.

Just a heads up, you’re going to go so fast through life. You’re going to forget most of this upcoming year. The summer will be a blur, and then suddenly, you’ll be back on campus.

Your apartment is going to be your safe haven, but you’re going to spend most of your time in classes. You heard me, in-person classes. Despite the masks, it’ll be fun. Instead of seeing everyone’s smiling faces, you’ll compliment their masks, which is just as good.

This will be your new “normal” and, not going to lie, it’s okay. You find your way at some point after stumbling. Sadly, I cannot give you the time and effort you deserve, busy with graduating. But I believe in you. You’re a survivor.

Soon, instead of surviving, you’ll be living.


Signe Nettum, Opinions Contributor

Opinions contributor Peter Anders.

Honestly, what this year taught me was that the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. COVID-19 showed that it was going to be with us for a long time, if not indefinitely. Political tensions got worse than they were before, and overall, it was an insanely stressful year. It feels like both went by too quickly, yet was seemingly never ending. But keep hanging on, you’ve got this.


Peter Anders, Opinions Contributor

Opinions columnist Kyle Tristan Ortega.

You know how the saying goes, don’t you?

“You’re never alone,” they say, and you can completely attest to that.

After all, if that were not the case, you know you wouldn’t be where you are today.

You wouldn’t be in your two-bedroom apartment, waking up every day with excitement for what adventures may come. You wouldn’t have the burning resolve to succeed that you have right now. You wouldn’t be in the best state you’ve ever been in since COVID-19 began.

You know some battles are just better fought together, so you’ve been fighting by everyone’s this whole time.

Thank goodness we’re never alone, right?


Kyle Tristan Ortega, Opinions Columnist

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.