By Claudia Conejeros
Hi! My name is Claudia Conejeros, I am from Chile and am eighteen years old. I want to share the experience that I am living here in this difficult and new situation of the global pandemic called "coronavirus,” a word that I certainly believe has been used hundreds of times in the last months. Like most ELI students, I never imagined that I was going to live a situation like this in the middle of such an incredible experience as studying abroad and especially at the University of Florida!
Like many others, I was having really wonderful days at the University of Florida, I was so happy for everything I was living and for each new person I was meeting every day. I was living incredible things, in each class and ELI activity I felt that I grew as a person and learned a lot. But one day in March we all got an email ... "Dear students, President Dr. Fuchs, just announced that all UF classes will remain online through the end of the semester." At the beginning I felt very sad when I read the email, I thought it was too soon for me to finish this wonderful experience of being part of the ELI!
A week later I had to move back with my family, saying goodbye to Gainesville and all my friends that one by one returned to their countries. At that moment staying so far from Gainesville and UF, I thought everything was finished and I just had to accept it … but something unexpected happened! I started taking the online classes, and I began to feel that I was not so alone, I was not so far away, I was still sharing with my teachers and friends and everything changed.
I know that at the beginning it was a difficult change, but all the teachers and students were patient. The university and ELI staff were concerned about the situation and their students began to constantly send emails, and each word of encouragement that they sent helped me to feel better. So a few days later I was happy again, joining ELI Zoom activities and living again the experience of being part of this incredible group of people "The ELI and the UF community.”
In fact, taking classes online has been much more fun than I expected, and I think it has made us all put our creativity into practice! We spend a lot of time together, laughing and talking a lot, and I love it. Now we are a real family, and I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every person who has made this experience one of the best in my life! And even though there are only a few days left to finish this semester, I hope that everyone like me keep the best memories of this beautiful experience!
Claudia Conejeros, from Chile.