home Memoir I Left My Heart in the Hudson Valley

I Left My Heart in the Hudson Valley

By Nawreen Juthi ’20 (Marketing)
Student manager, Welcome Center
Mentor, School of Business

On March 13, my friend and I drove the two hours from New Paltz to Brooklyn. We talked about what break would be like now that the Governor announced college classes would transition to e-learning. Would we come back to campus after the two weeks? Should we? We also wondered what the chances were of New York City being on lockdown. What would we do if that happened? The uncertainty was in the air.

To say that my life has changed since mid-March is an understatement. Nothing will ever be the same as we all attempt to embrace and accept the new normal.

Just a few weeks ago, I was looking forward to so much. There was still a lot to do and see before I said goodbye to New Paltz. I was planning weekend sightseeing at some nearby towns, a few more therapeutic walks around Lake Minnewaska, dining at some restaurants in New Paltz that I had yet to try. And now that’s been put on hold. In addition, as a graduating senior, I was excited for Senior Toast, the School of Business Awards Ceremony and Commencement. I’m not only a first-generation college graduate, I am also an immigrant like my parents and this is a major accomplishment for me. Now, I have a quiet celebration at home to replace what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life.

I live in a neighborhood in South Brooklyn called Borough Park, which has been one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19 cases and deaths. My apartment is in a 12-unit apartment building, surrounded by other similar-looking structures. There are families of at least four people, including young kids, in each of these units. So, it’s more than just my immediate family I think about whenever I venture outside for necessities. We try to restrict our time outside and if we’re out there, we put on disposable gloves and masks and keep our distance from others.

Being in isolation in New York City is probably unlike being in isolation elsewhere. By that I mean, it can feel suffocating at times. Not feeling the springtime breeze or direct, warm sunlight for days at a time is hard when I’m used to being outdoors every day. I know people talk about setting up a new routine or keeping your usual routine, but frankly it’s been hard to do that. Our sleep schedule is off, our productivity spikes and drops at different times each week, and even our moods vary by the day. Some days it’s not so bad, but other times it can be difficult to make it through the week.

Texting and occasional video calling helps me keep in touch with my friends from New Paltz, friends scattered throughout Brooklyn and my relatives who live nearby. I have to say though, sometimes it’s tough to talk to your network because you’re tired of revisiting the same discussion about anxieties, fears and frustrations. Having a laugh with a good meme does seem to help though!

Right now, I’m the only person in my family who is earning money. I’m so thankful to New Paltz for allowing me to continue my two on-campus positions remotely. I’ve also been grateful to already be interning part-time with a company in New York City. Both my parents are out of work because of the pandemic, and unfortunately government resources have not been given as promised. So keeping busy and avoiding boredom is not a problem for me. Between balancing the stress of online classes and working three jobs remotely, I’ve been occupied. There’s always something to work on!

On a more positive note, a highlight for me is having some time to dedicate to creating a website that showcases my portfolio of work. It still needs some finessing, but I’m glad I was able to get the basics started. I know I’ll be able to work on it once the semester ends. I also have been keeping up morale in my household by cooking restaurant-inspired dinner most nights. Sometimes my younger sister helps me make ‘menus’ to display on our dining table. I love exploring my culinary talents in the kitchen and I have so much fun doing it!

I’m getting through it, one day at a time. Though it might be a long time until I set foot in New Paltz, just know that I left my heart in the Hudson Valley. While there’s many things that rightfully upset and sadden me, I am equally blessed to have what I do. I’m grateful for a safe home, food on the table and a college degree from SUNY New Paltz.