Annamaria Ivacson takes long walks at the Niagara Gorge to help pass the time while living on the Niagara University campus.

There were several reasons Annamaria Ivacson, a 2020 MBA graduate from Budapest, Hungary, remained on campus after the coronavirus pandemic forced most resident students to return home. She had just started a full-time position in Niagara University’s graduate business office, and she was in the process of obtaining permission through the Immigration Office to continue to work after her graduation. She also worried about completing the requirements of her degree in her home country where time differences for Zoom meetings might make it more difficult.

“I didn’t see any reason to go home, stay in quarantine for two weeks, and do nothing in the middle of the lockdown,” she said. “Here, I can keep myself busy!”

To combat the challenges of socially distanced living on campus, Annamaria established daily routines for herself and connects online with her office team, which gives her the “extra boost to complete the work with joy and still feel engaged,” she said.

She also started to focus more on her mental, physical, and spiritual wellness, completing a 21-day abundance meditation challenge, a happiness program, and joining a self-awareness online training. She also began a gratitude journal and takes advantage of the beauty that surrounds the campus by taking long walks at the Niagara Gorge, watching sunsets by Whirlpool State Park, and hiking the trail to Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y.

Her time on campus also gave her opportunity to reconnect with friends, both old and new.

‘We initiated video conferencing with my best friends on a regular basis, which is one of the most remarkable factors that I still keep smiling (about),” she said. “Also, many people who I was not in contact with for a while, but they knew I was staying in the U.S., reached out to me.”

In addition to family and friends, Annamaria has had the support of the entire campus community, from Metz’s food service, to the Office of International Relations.

“The staff offered their help and showed that they truly care about their students,” she said. “My heart was melting when I saw encouraging video posts on social media and checked the surprise Easter bunny treats—this was literally the sweetest moment.”

Annamaria jokes that one of her greatest needs—coffee—was met with the assistance of her “adopted American mom,” who helped her purchase a coffee machine after the beverage was no longer available at the dining hall or the on-campus Tim Hortons.

“The fact that even though I was alone and sometimes I felt lonely, there were so many people who reached out to me, offering help with anything you can imagine: a curbside delivery of essential goods, a socially distant (dog)walking, a dinner invitation, a prayer, etc.,” she said. “The list is endless how much care and support I received during this time, and helped me to realize that we are in this all together! And we’ll get through it together!”

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