Freshman Adjusts to New Normal
Waking up at 1 p.m., rushing to classes, studying until midnight and enjoying his free time until 4 a.m., accompanied by an energy drink. Sounds like a normal routine for the night owls at AUBG. That was the old normal for Abdel-Rahman Ismail, as well.
Abdel-Rahman is a 19-year-old freshman already into his second semester at AUBG. He was born in Egypt, but he spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia with his family. His love for coding is why he chose a Computer Science major. He was heading for a second major in Psychology, but then he discovered that a Film Studies major was in the making. “For me that [was] a priority, so I switched.”
It may seem as an irregular combination, but not for Abdel-Rahman. One passion of his is game development. He wanted to learn how to code, as well as how to direct and write. “It’s weird, but…” he says laughing. Even so, his passion and ambition will facilitate his journey.
Except a career in game development, Abdel-Rahman’s other dream is to visit Paris and even continue his life there. Ever since he started learning French in high school, he discovered the beauty of France. With time, he realized he was drawn to Paris. Naturally, he decided he will find a way to reach his destination.
Unfortunately, his dream evaporated into thin air in the matter of weeks.
“I was planning to go during the spring break for four days and that being cancelled, that was terrible,” Abdel-Rahman says disconcerted. His and many other people’s plans and expectations fell right into the hands of the harrowing Corona virus.
Abdel-Rahman was unable to return home, since his passport was in the U.S. Embassy because of the Work and Travel program. “They gave it back on the same day when Egypt closed its borders,” he says. Luckily, he talked with the Egyptian Embassy and was told that as soon as there is a flight to Egypt, he will be notified. However, Abdel-Rahman believes that it will not be possible before the end of April.
Despite the forced readjustments, Abdel-Rahman is grateful for the measures taken by the university. “They allowed the international students to stay, [which] is a good thing.”
Although some 100 students have stayed in AUBG, communication is not the same as before. In Abdel-Rahman’s case, he keeps in touch with his friends through calls or while playing video games. He considers himself an introvert, so this connectivity disruption is not as tangible for him, but he can still sense the difference. “The idea of going out and just saying ‘hi’ to people on the way to Main Building, yeah that’s disappeared, I guess.”
Regardless of the novel setbacks, Abdel-Rahman manages to keep his spirits up and to resort to productive distractions.
“I started doing stuff that I don’t usually do, because I’m procrastinating.” Whether it is going to the gym, reading books or taking free online courses to develop his skills, Abdel-Rahman found ways to adapt to the new normal. As we all should.
This is a part of a series of stories created for Professor Laura Kelly's Writing for Media class where students profiled their classmates who were quarantined on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020.