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Column: The post-COVID-19 study abroad blip

Opinion Everyone Abroad (19).jpg
A plane takes off at RDU on Jan. 29, 2022.

Editor's note: This article is satire.

It happened in the blink of an eye. A very long blink that could account for getting through security at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and handling a wave of increasingly canceled and rescheduled flights due to COVID-19.

Now, everyone is gone.

Those of us who remain on campus cannot help but linger on memories with our missing roommates, classmates and friends. Their absence is almost palpable. Empty chairs in Lenoir Dining Hall and empty tables in Davis Library serve as reminders of those who once occupied them. Classrooms are barren. Student apartment complexes are weirdly student-less.

Campus is definitely lonelier ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention snapped its fingers. 

Due to the pandemic, many students who planned on studying abroad earlier in their college careers had their plans rescheduled. And rescheduled again. And again. Now that the CDC has loosened restrictions following COVID-19 exposure and infection, study abroad programs are beginning to travel again. And all the students who have been trying to study abroad left with them.

It’s the study abroad blip.

The pandemic has influenced our campus in essentially every way, but this particular consequence was an unexpected one. In these omicron-atic conditions, it feels almost impossible to go on with the addition of this new obstacle and heartbreak.

Nonetheless, we persist.

There is still hope. Blipped students are currently encapsulated in our screens and feeds. They can be found posing with the London Eye, the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower on Instagram. We have faith that — one day — we’ll be able to release them from the confines of 1080-by-1080px and see them in person again.

Until that day comes, we navigate this brave new world and try to remember all the things Chapel Hill still has for us, if no longer our blipped loved ones. This task has proven to be difficult for many. After all, Chapel Hill seems like a nice place to live until your former roommate is living in the South of France. South Campus really has nothing on Montpellier.

Being blipped might almost seem like the better option. A Valencia filter and a quippy caption might have you feeling confused, almost wishing to have been snapped away yourself. This is all a natural part of the grieving process. 

UNC junior Bryn Copenhaver reports feeling confused and dejected since the blip. 

“Imagine what would have happened if I was blipped," Copenhaver said. "I wouldn’t have to take my Orgo 2 exam this week. That’s a win.”

Another student expressed similar sentiments, reporting that “the effects of the blip are everywhere. My professors keep cold-calling me in class because there are fewer students to pick on. It’s had an enormous impact.”

I have faith that we will see our loved ones again. Maintaining that sense of hope will get us through this hard time. Either that, or Robert Downey Jr., maybe.

Our community is only at half capacity now, but it is our community nonetheless. And hopefully one day soon, we’ll be whole again.


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