Column: My freshman year at Harvard was cut short by coronavirus

I'm grateful that my final days on campus were full and bright, and now, I'm grateful to be safely back at home in Minnesota.

Do Yeon Kim NEW.jpg
Do Yeon Kim

The day I got the news started out like any other day.

I woke up around 6 a.m. and got ready for my first class. Then, I heard the ting of my phone. It was an email. It said that Harvard would be transitioning to virtual learning and students were to leave campus at the end of the week due to rising concerns over the coronavirus.

Immediately, a group FaceTime began between my friends and I, and we tried to wrap our heads around the situation. One of my friends began to cry. It soon began to settle in that we would really have to leave campus in a few short days, returning to our respective homes all across the country. The thought of leaving each other, the campus we grew to love and call home, and the remainder of our first year, became a reality.

Then, we decided to do what everyone else on campus also did: cram as much fun as possible into what remained of our time together. Just kidding! We wanted to, of course. We wanted to attend everything we could, but social distancing guidelines had to be taken seriously. So, the five of us made the most of the next few days as best we could, taking in Harvard Yard, our year-long backyard, knowing we would not be returning for a long while. We also savored a quick last meal in beautiful Annenberg, the first-year dining hall, and had our last series of deep talks on the steps of Widener Library.

Packing did not start until it absolutely had to, which, thanks to my family and friends, got done very efficiently. There was an overwhelming amount of camaraderie on campus, with those who lived in the area offering storage space in their homes, people handing out extra boxes and tape, everybody working together to load up cars, and helping each other in any ways they could.


Lastly, there was the goodbye. It was just as one would expect: full of tears, promises to keep in touch and pleas to “please stay safe." I turned in my library books, dropped off my dorm keys, and with that, I was ready to go.

I'm grateful that my final days on campus were full and bright, and now, I'm grateful to be safely back at home. I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe, too.

This column is a regular feature of the Tribune's monthly WAVE page. Do Yeon Kim is a Detroit Lakes High School graduate who is now a college student at Harvard.

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