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Five lessons Hannah Buczek learned from a semester in New York City during the pandemic year of 2020

By Hannah Buczek

In January of 2020, I became a cliche: Small town southern girl takes on the Big Apple. 

The story begins with me wrapping up my junior year of college and attending an end-of-the-year meeting for the school paper. I had enough credits to finish a semester early, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do and still needed an internship credit to graduate. I got into a conversation with a former student editor about her semester in the Big Apple. Long story short, I felt something like a knot and a jump in my stomach: I knew I had to do this program. 

Lesson 1: Listen when an opportunity reaches all the way to your core.

Let’s just say I had a lot to do between applying to the program, getting recommendations, getting the OK to skip town on my last semester, subbing NYC classes for major classes and, of course, getting financial aid in line. 

Lesson 2: Sometimes, you get a little pushback when you’re going after something important. You can choose to take the resistance as a sign, or you can persevere and see where it leads. 

The next thing I know, I’m moving into a Manhattan apartment with three other students and starting orientation at The King’s College for their journalism program. Let’s just say you’ll never forget your first night in a new, strange place, when you confront the thoughts that you shouldn’t even be there. 

Lesson 3: The sun comes up the next day.

Classes began, and then came the time to start my first internship. I headed to a TV studio in Midtown on a Friday, having little information on what I was doing. Sometimes (many times), I would feel inadequate, like I wasn’t as prepared or educated or experienced or passionate as the others. But the old adage that says everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time has some truth to it. 

Lesson 4: You’re wherever you are for a reason. Do your best. Be humble, honest and learn when you can. 

The New York Minute change of pace challenged me to step way out of my comfort zone and become aggressive instead of passively allowing life to happen to me. I’m thankful for that initiative because you know what started happening in February: People started talking about this virus happening on the other side of the world. Words like “curfew” started to bounce around some time later, and I flew home for Spring Break, so I wouldn’t get stuck. I left the city with a, “See you after Easter.” We all know I didn’t see it after Easter. 

Along with the rest of the Class of 2020, I finished up classes, final projects and my internship virtually, ending with a virtual graduation. That internship turned into a job, so these days, I work from home in good ol’ D’ville, travel, go to church, cherish time with family and friends and, yes, struggle with my life, my dreams and where I’m supposed to fit. 

Lesson 5: To everything there is a season. Whether in Manhattan or in between spaces, life is happening to us, and we’re becoming who we were meant to be. Every season is important.

So, I’m embracing this season as I embraced the last. If I really believe everything works together for good, I know I’ll apply those lessons again in my future, and I’ll learn new ones every day if I look close enough. 

So, what lessons are you learning in your current season?

Hannah is a 2016 graduate of Seminole County Middle High School and the daughter of Joy and Tony Buczek of Donalsonville.

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