(Kristen Frier)

Feeling the vaccination hype

There are so many things to be excited for after getting the shot

Marcus Jones

For every action, there is a reaction. For every crappy moment in life, there always is a moment that will replace the suffering felt previously with a sense of relief and happiness. It’s been more than a full year since the world bound by safety restrictions has become the norm, and the quickness with which humanity has adapted is astonishing.

In years past, vaccines took a long time, yet in the case of COVID-19 the race to develop the cure has been rather quick. As more vaccinations take place and the promise of everything going back to normal gets closer, there are several things to be pumped about.

The first and obvious event that pretty much everyone is hyped about, myself included, is regularly hanging out with friends. Talking with friends online is a decent substitute, but there truly is nothing like getting together with the squad, popping a few cold ones, and just talking about life.

In-person conversations are almost like mini therapy sessions. The insight you can gain into the other person is worth more than any text message can offer. Talking face-to-face has a greater human value to it. Everything feels more personal and secure as opposed to sending the same repetitive one-sentence reply in a text.

On the topic of social events, indoor dining is another aspect of normal life that is worth getting hyped for. Getting the squad together and hitting the bar, having a good conversation, or sharing a good story over food and drinks is different. The exact same thing applies to restaurants. Gathering at a table and chatting over food sets a special social mood that shouldn’t be given up or avoided for any reason.

Recreational sports, while still being played today, lack one crucial element these days: live audiences.

Whether that’s for football, basketball, and even wrestling, the in-person reactions generated from sports events are unparalleled. When either team scores a goal or a fight breaks out between two players, the sheer adrenaline in the heat of the moment can be the greatest form of stress-relief, as you yell your lungs out with the action to support your team.

High-energy sports aren’t the only things worth looking forward to. Calmer, but equally charming sports like bowling are definitely something to be anticipated. Golfing is a more secluded recreation that’s still going on, but getting friends together and collectively screaming bloody murder at the missed swing on the ball has a unique vibe on its own.

On the entertainment aspect, cinemas will more than likely get a huge boom in regards to attendance. Whether those are indoor, outdoor, or drive-in, movie nights should be on everyone’s to-do list.

Going to the arcade, the library, hitting the gym, busting a fat move on the dancefloor, video game night on Monday, barbeque and pool nights on the weekends, attending concerts, and jamming all are possible with more vaccinations on the way. So hang tight and persevere. This shit will all be over soon enough.

(Kristen Frier)

Planning to explore and volunteer as the pandemic hopefully subsides

Looking forward to sightseeing in the city and helping others in-person again

Brylian Marin

“What are your plans as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic ends?”

I am sure most, if not all, people have brought this question up at some point over the past several months. Whether to themselves or someone else, this question has likely come across the mind of the average person at least once.

While everyone has different plans in the short-term about what to do when they get vaccinated over the next few months, I thought I would explain at least some plans shortly after getting a vaccine for this article.

One thing I want to do again, when conditions are a bit safer with more people vaccinated, is start travelling around the Lower Mainland again.

Back in the times of when the most worrying thing about travelling was not getting lost in an unknown area after using public transit for hours, I would sometimes travel to places like Downtown Vancouver to visit the Rogers Arena and Waterfront to sightsee and explore areas I rarely get to check out.

Another activity I want to do post-vaccination is try out some new food places to eat again. Whether it be through take-out or dine-in depends on the circumstances, but trying out some new foods again would be something I would like to go back to doing some time in the near future.

Also, exercising and going back to a gym to work out is something I want to do again. After over a year since the first lockdowns started, I could slowly feel my body getting weaker, slower, and less fit over time.

Even though I am trying to get back into doing what I can inside, having more access to gym equipment would help quite a bit.

Going back to doing some in-person volunteering is another thing I hope to do again sooner rather than later. A few years ago, I was a part of the O-Team at the university helping the newer students get acclimated to university life.

While there are events online acting as a substitute, it doesn’t feel the same for me.

I am sure that a lot of people want to safely hang out with friends and maybe do some of the previously mentioned activities. But while communication through various social media platforms like Discord can make up for that, from my experience, and a certain atmosphere and energy can be felt from just being with friends and making fun memories, which is something you can’t do online.

While I could technically do all of the above online and stay safe inside to keep my distance from everyone, you can only do so many limited activities because the rest would be much enjoyable in person.

It’s also better to minimize contact and travel until more people are vaccinated, and conditions get better before we can do some of the activities done before the pandemic.

While this is just my plan for what I hope to do as soon as I can get vaccinated, this might help give some of you ideas on what to do.

Anyways, stay safe, be kind, and get vaccinated as soon as you can!

(Kristen Frier)

Getting married is on the post-vaccination bucket list

Spoiler: after 13+ months of COVID, it’s a very long list

Ashley Hyshka

I remember New Years Eve 2020. I was at a house party, slightly drunk under warm lights, curled up on a couch with my fiancé as my friends and I yelled “Happy New Year!” and hugged each other. I had just moved to Ontario, and was months away from closing on my first home, getting married, and eager to begin the next chapter of my journalism career. I told myself, “This is going to be my year.”

It was not.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11 of last year, and since the subsequent lockdowns, restrictions, and travel warnings, I’ve been dreaming of what I wanted to do when things returned to normal. When Pfizer and Moderna announced late last year they developed vaccines that were 95 per cent effective, that dream was one step closer.

I was supposed to get married on Oct. 17, 2020. Since last June, I’ve had to postpone it twice (fingers crossed for Oct. 15, 2022!).

Near the top of my post-vaccination bucket list is my fiancé and I finally celebrating our wedding in Niagara’s wine country, and saying “I do” surrounded by loved ones, many of whom we haven’t seen in months or in well over a year.

As a little girl I dreamt of being a Disney princess. My beautiful Disney-esque ball gown dress has been hanging in my closet for a year, collecting dust. My wedding will be an intimate event with a small guest list (half of whom are travelling out of province by plane), and I want my wedding to be a lot of things, but a superspreader event is not one of them.

I know it will have been worth the wait when my fairytale wedding comes true. After the past year, everyone could use a good party (and yes, there will be an open bar).

The next thing on my post-vaccination bucket list is travelling. I have a deep curiosity of the world around me, and an insatiable wanderlust.

I want to walk through New York City during Christmas time as snow falls from the sky. Dig my toes in the sand as I watch the sunset over the Pacific in Hawaii on my honeymoon. Sip espresso at a cozy outdoor cafe in Spain, and watch cherry blossom trees dance in the wind in Japan.

While some people travelled internationally against public health orders, I’m waiting until I’m vaccinated, and it’s safe to do so. I remind myself that “adventure awaits.”

The last item on my post-vaccination bucket list is less extravagant but nonetheless meaningful. I want to hug people again.

The past year has been full of forgone gatherings with loved ones. Postponed weddings, cancelled baby showers, delayed housewarming, engagement, and holiday parties. I haven’t seen my own family in a year-and-a-half, nor have I been able to hold babies recently born to close friends. After the vaccine rollout, I want to give out lots of hugs to make up for those lost over the past year.

Vaccines are our only way out of this nightmare, so stay safe, continue to follow public health guidelines, and please get vaccinated when it’s your turn to do so. In the meantime, keep busy planning out your own post-vaccination bucket list!

(Kristen Frier)

Advocacy and supporting COVID-19 charities

Canada has the privilege to dream of life after COVID-19, but we cannot forget other countries

Netanya Castillo

As COVID-19 vaccines are being administered throughout the country, many are looking forward to life after the pandemic. As an elementary tutor, I spent the last few days asking my K-7 students about their plans after vaccination. The fourth graders had dreams of travelling to Disneyland or Great Wolf Lodge or baking cookies with their grandma.

The little ones in kindergarten didn’t even understand the question. Their eyes were big with wonder as they tried to understand words like “pandemic” and “vaccination.” They wondered what I looked like underneath my mask as I watched their oversized masks slip off their tiny faces.

The oldest students looked forward to entering high school without masks so they could smile at soon-to-be friends. Although optimistic, these responses show that it’s human nature to focus on ourselves and our own priorities.

The Canadian government’s decision to draw on its share of COVAX vaccines was one of the most selfish decisions in recent history. COVAX is a shared pool of global vaccines that are to be distributed among lower-income countries. Canada made this decision in Feb. 2021, when it had already “secured” enough vaccines to fully vaccinate the entire Canadian population four times over.

We have the privilege to dream of life after COVID-19. Other countries don’t have the same optimism.

While our country has been vaccinating people every day, other countries have fared far worse. More than 40 per cent of the Canadian population has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination.

Similarly, 47 per cent of people in the United States have received their first dose. The U.K. is at 55 per cent and Israel at 60 per cent. This is a stark contrast to the less than one per cent of vaccinated populations in Venezuela, South Africa, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, and Sudan.

Six of the eight reported variants of COVID-19 have come from countries with less than 20 per cent vaccination rate.

India has reported four variants since Oct. 2020 and currently holds a 10 per cent vaccination rate with only 2.8 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, sheltered middle-class families have become picky over COVID-19 vaccine brands.

COVID-19 does not discriminate against wealth or power. It does not discriminate against nationality or sexuality. Variants continue to emerge, and in our imperfect world, wealthier countries are served first.

This process is counterintuitive because variants are in countries that have received fewer vaccines, and there is slim to no research on how effective current vaccines are against the variants. If a stronger mutation of COVID-19 were to spread internationally, the world could be back at square one. That’s why I’ll be donating to World Vision, a reputable Canadian charity that is providing COVID-19 support to India. After receiving my COVID-19 vaccine, I hope to use my privilege to advocate for other countries that should have received more vaccines sooner.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over until it’s over for everyone.

Looking forward to travelling after vaccination

Travelling can bring some much-needed peace of mind


Just yesterday, I came across an Instagram post from the Vancouver Coastal Health stating that “50% of eligible B.C. adults have now had at least one shot,” which is a COVID-19 immunization milestone. The fact that the vaccine rollout continues to reach these new milestones is a ray of hope that spreads optimism about what a normal life could look like again.

I have been an international student in Canada for two years. I am an avid traveller, but I had trouble scheduling time to travel due to adulthood responsibilities and university life, even before the pandemic. Now that the majority of British Columbians are being contacted to book their vaccine appointments, I can’t stop thinking about all the places I would love to visit once I am fully vaccinated.

For example, Hawaii is issuing its residents vaccine passes, which would allow for fully vaccinated residents to travel between islands without pre-travel testing and time spent in quarantine. “Gov. David Ige announced last month, Hawaii residents who were vaccinated in the state are exempt from testing and quarantine on the 15th day after their final vaccine shot,” reports ABC news.

The travel and tourism industry was one of the first to take an economic hit in the pandemic as different provinces and countries began adopting stricter measures like lockdowns or stay-at-home orders. It will be nice to support this industry again while taking the time to see new things.

It has often occurred to me that I haven’t seen the northern lights yet, which has been one of my goals for so long. Taking trips through Europe and being in your early 20s go hand-in-hand, and Prague is on my travel bucket list.

For me, travel is that one thing that helps me destress. It’s therapeutic and soothing to my mind.

During the peak of the case numbers, I found that watching online videos and reels by travel bloggers on Instagram helped calm me down. It worked to lessen my anxiety when I would look at the news channels highlighting spiking hospitalization rates.

It’s like a door to anywhere — you could be teleported to any place in the world. I would choose to be away from the negative news, somewhere that doesn’t increase my anxiety.

I know that the pandemic has left a scar on many of us, and I am luckily at a safe spot where I can write about it. Although chasing new travel experiences is still a distant goal, if the vaccine rollout continues to go well, it will be much more likely to happen.