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Editorial: Breakout of your comfort zone

By Anna Koch

When I saw that the Nugget was looking for stories for their May issue, I felt the urge to share how a lucky coincidence during an online class brought one of my dearest friends into my life.   

Now I don’t need to mention that COVID-19 has had a massive impact on all of us, mentally, physically and academically. But as an international student from Germany, coming to Edmonton without any family and only a few friends in Edmonton, I was especially looking forward to the campus experience. 

I remember how excited I was, showing up to campus early and staying all day, even though my only class was at 6pm. I enjoyed wandering through the halls at NAIT, studying, having lunch and coffee and attending all the events happening on campus. It was a great chance to meet new people and make new friends.

But all these opportunities got taken away when covid hit. So many businesses and institutions including NAIT unfortunately had to close their doors and transition to online learning. It was not an easy time for students and teachers.

I can’t deny that the impacts of COVID really hit me hard. I just felt like giving up. Some days, I even thought about going back to my home country. It was so frustrating to not meet classmates and study in person, and I really wanted to find people to bond with outside of classes and maybe even build a friendship. 

Never ever would I have expected that a lucky coincidence would throw me in a breakout room with soon to be one of my dearest study buddies and later one of my best, dearest and closest friends today.  

We met for the first time on campus in the beginning of 2020. He was studying with a mutual friend of ours and she introduced us. I think my mind was somewhere else and I wasn’t really paying attention. I was just about to go to the gym, and I was still getting the hang of being in school. Getting all my books, going to events, studying and making sure I was organized–I had a lot on my mind. So when he was trying to talk to me, I was off in my own world and didn’t notice. 

So when we were put into a Zoom breakout room 9 months later, I was surprised when he asked me about our friend and if I was “that girl from Germany.” It had been a while since we first met and usually I’m the one reaching out to people. So when he remembered me and started a conversation, I was so happy!  

After the class we chatted a bit. It was difficult to meet because of different work and class schedules and COVID, but we became online/phone study buddies and very soon, very close friends. When campus opened and restrictions were lifted, we tried to attend as many events as we could, like Scaryoke and Dirty Bingo at the Nest. One day,  we got lucky and ran into the Treat Trolley. It was such a great feeling to be back on campus and see all the other students. 

But as my time at NAIT comes to an end, I still think about all the friendships, memories, and opportunities I missed out on because of COVID, and sometimes it does make me really sad and melancholic. 

But on my hardest days and lowest points, I think about the past: my work and travel year in Canada, the connections I made, the adventures I had.  

What I learned is that even if you want something really bad, like going to a certain place or getting a certain job, and it doesn’t turn out the way you wish to, it is most likely that something better is waiting for you along the way. Something you haven’t even thought about in your wildest dreams. 

I am so grateful COVID brought such a kind and thoughtful person to my life and sometimes I wouldn’t know where I’d be without him

Challenges make life interesting and help you grow. I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone, trying new things, and taking chances because who knows what you might miss otherwise. A new friend, a new job, or a new perspective on life. 

So no matter what you’re going through, always take chances. Try to remind yourself about what is good in your life, and think of all the exciting possibilities that are before you, like someone from Germany meeting someone from the Philippines while studying in Canada and becoming life-long friends. 

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