Falling back in love with San Francisco


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Before March 6, 2020, our daily lives were broken up into two sections: school life and home life. Whether you thought quarantine was a part of a never-ending tunnel or felt that your time at home has been too short, March 6, 2020, marks the one-year “anniversary” – if you want to call it that – since Urban students last wandered the halls of the Old Building, loaded buses for what would then be their last sports practice of the 2019-2020 school year and what would be the last time they saw their class as a whole.
As we take a look at the past year, there have certainly been some perks to being confined to our homes. Short school days and overall reduced school work have allowed for more schedule flexibility for many busy Urban students. “I have gotten to focus on what I want to do more of the time, instead of being swayed by what others want for me, particularly in relation to commitments and activities,” said Sylvia Hoyt ‘23.
The pandemic provided all groups of people the opportunity to become introspective, learn and focus on their needs. Caroline Wu ‘22, “realized [a lot of people], especially athletes, never really had a time before in [their] life to sit and be with [themselves] and get to know [themselves].”
Associate Counselor for Mental Health Services at Urban, Alexander Germanacos, said that at the beginning, the pandemic felt like a beneficial change from the typically fast-paced Urban environment. “Because…I don’t feel like I have to really push to get in [certain spaces and conversations], a different voice comes out, a different quality of me,” he said.
While at first quarantine may have been a nice break from everyday routines, its extension has become harder to cope with. “I really noticed after Christmas, especially, that my home had to shift from being my workplace to my vacation place, and then back again,” Germanacos said. “And all of that was really mental, in the sense that the location didn’t change, but my mindset and attitude.”
Fresh air and a physical change in location proved to benefit Hoyt’s mental health and motivation since the beginning of the school year. “I got tired of working inside of my house mid-fall term and built an office in my backyard over Thanksgiving break,” said Hoyt.
“I find it helpful to kind of move through things and get things out,” said Germanacos. “And there is a way that nature is cleansing. There’s a way it can rejuvenate us.” Germanacos swims in the Bay at Aquatic Park and this connection to nature has served as a place to refocus and center himself, forcing him to “tune out, have lesser worries, and focus on [his] survival to some degree.”
When it comes to understanding one’s feelings and emotions, it’s important to be “fluid between [a positive and a negative mindset] and being okay with the negative and being able to talk about it and being okay with the positive and being able to talk about it,” Germanacos said. Being in quarantine for almost a year now is certainly not all good nor all bad. We each have good days and bad ones and remembering to recenter and “not hold onto anything too tightly,” will allow us to make the best of the situation we are given.
As we creep closer to a full year of quarantining, it can be easy to feel trapped in the same environment or habits. So I encourage you to explore your neighborhood and your surroundings as a way to recenter. The following pages contain images of some of your peers’ favorite spots in the city followed by quotes about why this place is special to them. Enjoy!