Over the past year, we’ve all lost little things in our lives. Restaurant dinners. Birthday parties. The hum of a crowded room. This episode of Offbeat is about all those smaller griefs. It’s about the year we’ve lost.

And in this month’s question segment, assistant special projects editor Clara Longo de Freitas leads a round table on the pandemic’s effects on mental health, inviting some Diamondback reporters and editors to share their experiences from this past year. The University of Maryland’s Counseling Center offers students free individual, group and couples counseling sessions, as well as drop-in hours and referral services to other resources nearby. Visit counseling.umd.edu for more resources or call  (301) 314-7651 to make an appointment.

You can also find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A full transcript of this month’s episode is below.

Offbeat: The Year We Lost

Emma Shuster: You know it’s funny, people will say to me, “Oh, where do you go to school?” and I’m like, “University of Maryland — well, virtually. I haven’t been there.” The only time I’ve been there this year is to pick up textbooks.


Allison Mollenkamp: Welcome to Offbeat, a podcast from the Diamondback. I’m your host, Allison Mollenkamp.

About a year ago, my boyfriend and I had dinner at this chain Mexican place in Nebraska. Tiny plastic cups of hot sauce. Plastic trays. Almost too much cheese, if there is such a thing.

I remember thinking that we were probably safe from the coronavirus because there was only one other customer there. I also knew we probably couldn’t eat inside again for a few weeks. Weeks turned into months, and months turned into a year. If I’d known it was our last restaurant for a year, maybe we would have gone somewhere nicer. It’s a little thing, but I miss the ritual of sitting down for dinner at a restaurant.

Over the past year, we’ve all lost little things in our lives. Restaurant dinners. Birthday parties. The hum of a crowded room. This episode of Offbeat is about all those smaller griefs. It’s about the year we’ve lost.

But before we start, I want to acknowledge the much larger griefs.

As of this recording, more than 2.7 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19. They left behind families and communities, passions and broken hearts. In the past year we’ve seen disturbing incidents of racism against Asian people and grappled with the lasting effects of anti-black racism and police brutality. And in the past two weeks the nation was shaken by multiple mass shootings.

There is no thorough way to encapsulate those losses here. I’m sure it will take years to comprehend the full scope of it, if we ever truly can. If you’d like to learn the stories of just a few of the people who died of COVID, the New York Times project “Those We’ve Lost” or the online COVID Memorial could be good places to start.


Allison: To reflect on the things we’ve lost this year, we talked with five University of Maryland students. I’ll let them introduce themselves.

Caroline Fleetwood: My name is Caroline Fleetwood, and I’m double majoring in marketing and supply chain management with a minor in sustainability.

Emma: My name is Emma Shuster. I am a junior journalism major with a concentration in women’s studies.

Divya Kapoor: I’m Divya Kapoor. I am a senior and I’m a double major in operations management and information systems.

Steven Mehling: Steven Mehling. I’m a broadcast journalism major. I’m a music performance minor.

Katie Deosaran: My name is Katie Deosaran. I am a senior kinesiology major.

Allison: The pandemic has changed a lot of students’ lifestyles, interrupting their academic and social lives, as well as their extracurriculars.

Outside of class, Katie is director of recruitment and a member of the executive board for The Pride, a Maryland athletics fan group.

She is — to put it mildly — a huge sports fan. And she remembers what she was thinking last March, when basketball season came to a premature end.

Katie: I feel like I lost two national championships last year, because the men’s team was killing it, the women’s team was supposed to be a one seed, like … the day they announced that they were canceling the tourney last year, I think I remember tweeting “Watching the men’s ‘02 championship to mourn this loss. Nobody talk to me ‘til Selection Sunday 2021.”

Allison: That mourning period is all too familiar to Caroline, who was supposed to spend her 2020 spring break studying abroad in  Athens, Greece.

Caroline: So when I first heard my Athens trip was canceled, I did not handle that well at all. Honestly, I couldn’t even see pictures of Athens until August, because I was so upset by it because it felt like something — I’m sure a lot of people feel this way —but it just felt like something was kind of taken from me. And I know it was the right call at the time, but it was just so hard to cope with. Definitely cried to my mom a lot, cried to my boyfriend a lot.

Allison: The pandemic has left students grieving what they expected their life would be like this year. 

Emma is a transfer student, and last semester should have been her first on UMD’s campus.

Emma: I was really looking forward to having that experience and having, I guess, meeting a group of people that would become my best friends I could go to these events with and spend time with. And given that I’m all virtual, I mean, I’ve met people through classes and clubs, but I know them through a little screen on Zoom. I don’t know them in person. And I feel like if I were in person I definitely would be able to have that close group of friends that everyone meets in college.

Allison: The world didn’t stop to let students work through these losses.

Divya is the VP of finance for Student Entertainment Events, which organizes concerts and other student activities at UMD. She and the rest of the SEE team moved all their events online last spring.

Divya: I think the decisions were made pretty quickly after the university announced that it was kind of going virtual for at least two weeks. Just because we realized if we took two weeks off and then came back there wouldn’t be enough time to really get everything together. So we ended up cancelling a lot of things that were even happening in like April and later than that because, we just, even though like we, there was a chance that we could be on campus during that time, there just wasn’t logistically enough time for us to really get all that together.

Allison: That uncertainty has continued, with SEE having to cancel events even in the last few months due to the university’s sequester in place order.

But back in March 2020, nobody knew what was coming. Katie remembers interviewing for The Pride’s executive board last spring.

Katie: I still had hope, naively, that we would be able to do things. I was like, “It’s fine, we’ll figure it out. Like by then we’ll be at games again. It’s fine. It’s no big deal.”

Allison: Of course, it did end up being a big deal. For Steven, president of UMD a capella group DaCadence, that meant losing the groups’ planned performances.

Steven: We usually have a fall and a spring concert. We were gonna have our 10th anniversary concert last spring, and that was lost because of the pandemic. You know, we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and we chose not to do ICCAs, which is, you know, what you see in Pitch Perfect. You know we decided not to do that this year because it’s not in person.

Allison: Some people, like Caroline, made plans early in the pandemic that didn’t work out. After her Athens trip fell through, Caroline started planning to spend this semester in either London or Madrid. When that second trip got canceled, Caroline was hurt but not shocked.

Caroline: What has been crazier for me to deal with is I go on TikTok and I see people from other universities in the U.S. that are actually studying abroad right now. And that’s what I can’t really understand. I get really caught up in the what-could-have-been type thing, but I’ve been trying to accept it more that this is the life and I can’t really change anything about it.

Allison: When Caroline envisioned her study abroad experience, she shared it with her sorority sisters, many of whom were also planning to spend the semester in Europe.

The pandemic has taken away many forms of community.

Steven says his a capella group isn’t making a lot of music lately, because it’s so difficult over Zoom. But they’re making an effort to check in with each other.

Steven: When we’re over Zoom we’re making sure that people are saying, you know, if you need to reach out to us, be sure to do that. I always say that my phone is an open line for anybody, and half the members say the same thing. I mean, we’re just trying to be there for each other in such a hard time and not being able to see each other makes it that much harder. So we’re trying our best to make it all work right now.

Allison: Katie’s felt that lack of community, too, and she’s struggled to find a good substitute for cheering the Terps on in person with her friends. They often don’t feel safe gathering to watch games on TV.

Katie: I’ve watched every game with my roommates and they’re great, but also I had kind of this core group of friends that always went to the games with me and that was like an experience we shared and we can’t do that because they either don’t live in CP or we’re trying to not meet up with people.

Allison: Earlier this month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that all Marylanders over the age of 16 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 27th. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and students are starting to think about what comes next.

Divya and the SEE team are planning ways for students to gather soon, even though COVID rules will still be in place.

Divya: One big thing I’m looking forward to and I have for a while is our outdoor movies series that we have coming back. I’m honestly just looking forward to kind of having more outdoor events. Things that are, you know, we’re able to do safely outside and kind of create some sort of normalcy.

Some of the things that were lost this year can’t easily be rescheduled, though. Caroline is graduating next year, and doesn’t know when travel will be possible.

Caroline: I’m going to have loans like right after I graduate, so like the first thing I need to do is get like a job and pay those off and like as fast as I can. So like, that is my ideal. I would like to backpack Europe for at least a month in the summer but like after we graduate, but really it depends on like just my job’s like entry day or something like that. I would like to work abroad, too, I’m definitely gonna try. But it’s easier said than done, I think.

Allison: For UMD’s seniors, memories of pre-COVID experiences will have to be enough. Here’s Katie.

Katie: You know, we’d do the flag drop and it was just… I miss it so much.


Allison: This year has been rough for everyone. And we want to talk about it. Next, assistant special projects editor Clara Longo de Freitas leads a round table on the pandemic’s effects on mental health, inviting some Diamondback reporters and editors to share their experiences from this past year.

Before we start, please note: None of us are licensed health care professionals. If you or anyone you know is currently struggling with mental health, the university Counseling Center offers students free individual, group and couples counseling sessions, as well as drop-in hours and referral services to other resources nearby. Visit counseling.umd.edu for more resources. 


Clara Longo de Freitas: Because this episode is about the losses we’ve felt from the pandemic, we thought we would speak with some of The Diamondback’s staff on how their mental health has been affected by the pandemic and some of the tips they have on prioritizing yourself during this time. We can start off by just kind of introducing ourselves.

Kimi Fleming: I’m Kimi Fleming. I am the assistant Offbeat editor here at The Diamondback, and I’m also the multimedia editor.

Rosa Pyo: My name is Rosa. I am a podcast reporter.

Elana Morris: I’m Elana Morris. I am a diversions writer.

Khushboo Rathore: My name is Khushboo Rathore, and I am the graduate student beat reporter for the news desk.

Taneen Momeni: My name is Taneen Momeni and I’m a staff photographer.

Amelia Jarecke: My name is Amelia Jarecke, and I’m a multimedia reporter.

Clara: So, can you guys just describe to me what this whole year has been like for you? It can be very hard to describe that.

Rosa: Being a queer child of immigrants … I remember before pandemic even came to the United States, I got sick. And I’d be coughing because like I would get sick. And people would look at me very oddly. And I was just like, scared to go to class for a week. But I was like, something I wouldn’t worry about early. But even like throughout the pandemic, I’ve been like extremely worried about getting hate crimed or whatnot, and especially last week with everything that’s happened in Georgia. it’s just been a very anxiety-inducing year because it’s just like, waiting for something to happen, but you don’t know when to because everything’s just happening when people are getting vaccinated. But it’s a slow process and just try to be patient.

Khushboo: I was already in therapy and struggling with my own mental health long before the pandemic. At this point, I’ve been in therapy for almost five years. But this like, definitely took a very different kind of toll on my mental health that I don’t even understand fully now. I ended up having a really bad panic attack. It’s been really hard to understand how I’m gonna get back to the normal world once everyone is vaccinated and all this is over, like, where do we go from here? 

Elana: At the beginning of the pandemic, I had this thought like, maybe I should go to therapy. But at the same time, you know, it’s kind of like a meteor hit. We were all going through this sort of collective trauma. And I almost feel I remember feeling like, well, what’s the point of going to therapy when my therapist will inevitably be also girding themselves against the everyday trauma of the pandemic … This might be the first time and maybe the only time in our lives collectively that we’re all having this sort of major loss. I don’t really know how you can come out of that unchanged, on maybe a sort of basic level.

Taneen: Yes, everything has changed. But day to day, I feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, like I’m stuck in this weird Groundhog Day loop, and I can’t get out. I felt like I was constantly screaming into the void trying to get people to care about what’s happening… So it was just really hard to get myself to not feel hopeless. Because there’s only so much one person can do.

Clara: I haven’t actually felt the pandemic that much until this month, not because I’m living in another world, just because it’s my way of coping. I just kind of usually numb it all out. I’m just existing at this point. And it started to hit me this month because Brazil, my home country, it’s at its worst it has ever been. There’s just no vaccine or just no hope. So I think like one thing that I’ve been doing a lot to be able to cope is drawing a lot, doodling, just trying to express myself in some way. And also just like in general, accepting all of these feelings.

So that’s just like another thing that I think we can talk a little bit is about ways that you’ve guys have been trying to cope with all of this. And any suggestions that you guys might have for folks who are also struggling?

Kimi: Something that I’ve really turned to is just prioritizing my self-care. I think when I get depressed or I get stuck in my own head, I don’t take care of myself, I won’t clean my room. And that’s something that I know if I do, I’m going to feel better. So if I put my work down, take a shower, like do my hair, clean my room, I know, I’m going to feel better about myself, even though I’m not doing my work. So that’s something that I’ve definitely started doing more of since the pandemic started.

Taneen: If I feel like I’m just not having a good time in my room, I’ll just go and lay outside for like an hour. And I’ll lay there, not on my phone. I probably look really crazy, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m just laying out on McKeldin Mall. Another thing, I got a bunch of candles recently, and I found how like, it can really change your space. Like just having a little different sensory detail happening.

Amelia: I struggled a lot with my own identity crumbling at the time that the pandemic started, and you know, the culture crumbling around me, as I knew it. So anything that gave me a feeling of control was really welcomed during the pandemic. And even just going out for a drive or getting a coffee, even though everything felt so pointless.

Clara: Mental health is something that you have to like work on it every day. And it doesn’t have to be these big grandiose moves. For me. It’s just watching really stupid TV shows about very dumb problems, like rich people problems. It’s the best.

Allison: We planned for a short conversation, but there was just so much to say. People shared their hardships, stories of tarot card readings and crystals, therapy woes and other experiences from the last year. One of the biggest themes? None of us are alone in going through this.

Look out for a bonus episode of Offbeat next Friday, featuring the full round table discussion on the ways the pandemic has affected our mental health and what we can do about it.

Thanks for listening to Offbeat. I’m your host Allison Mollenkamp. This episode was created by Riley Brennan, Kimi Fleming, Clara Longo de Freitas and Taneen Momeni. And thank you to Rachel Hunt, Amelia Jarecke, Elana Morris, Rosa Pyo and Kushboo Rathore for joining us for the round table.

Our music this month is “Just to Make You Happy” by Jeff Draco and Skate Stance. You can find them on Spotify. If you’d like to hear your music featured on the show DM us on Twitter @dbkoffbeat. And follow The Diamondback on Twitter and Instagram @thedbk.

You can find a transcript of this episode at dbknews.com. If you like the show, make sure to tell your friends and leave us a rating and review. 

Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next month with a brand new episode.