The pals, Lani, Ava and Celeste stroll on the campus of the Lewis and Clark college in Portland, Oregon. | Photo by Lauren Arriola

Lani Says: On the road again

2020 December Editions Lani Tunzi

By Lani Tunzi

In a pandemic, the smallest of journeys are more valuable than ever, especially when those journeys involve being reunited with a good friend. In November, with my close friends, Ava and Celeste, I headed up to Oregon to bring our other friend, Lauren, back to Eagle Rock for the holidays.

Though the three of us were still in school, our respective colleges are remote learning only for this year, and so virtual formats made the rescue mission possible. With all of us jonesing for some new surroundings, we gathered our loose change, Celeste’s parents’ car and some leftover Halloween candy — and set out on the 5 freeway. Some of the 16-hour drive was spent listening to our college lectures over the car’s AUX system.

Many smaller schools across the country have had a somewhat-close-to-normal experience for their students, with dorm living, roommates and in-person lectures. My best friend Lauren, who attends Lewis and Clark College, a private liberal arts college in Portland, was among the lucky few.

Lewis and Clark opened its campus this fall to students who did not opt for remote learning, but with strict precautions. They had to quarantine two weeks prior to arrival and show up with proof of negative COVID test results. Dorm halls were open but had reduced capacity, including only one roommate. Social gatherings were prohibited and students couldn’t enter other halls on campus.

In addition, the college grounds were closed to the public and masks were required at all times. Lauren’s courses were hybrid, meaning that some days they met in lecture halls and other days the same class would be online. Since some students were doing remote learning only, Lauren’s professors shared that their lectures were being broadcast to students across the world.

Being able to rejoice with Lauren was a blast, a perfect beginning to an unconventional holiday season. This was also an exciting opportunity for Ava and Celeste and me to exercise some needed freedom – an opportunity that’s been quite scarce since March. Like thousands of people our age, we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to go off for the college experience we had expected, but we won’t let it hold us back from making some good memories. It simply means we have to be more creative (and cautious) when planning our adventures.

Lani Tunzi, Class of 2020 at Eagle Rock High, is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara.

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