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Bittersweet Returns

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link   All Posts
Juliana Lehnerova

The fall semester was our first semester back at the Academy since the pandemic, and the first time since March that I got to see some of my friends. While it was great to be with the corps again, it was very different from what I was used to. We couldn’t all eat dinner together anymore, or sit next to one another in class, and any gathering had its masks and restrictions and social distancing. It was certainly something to get used to, and I felt that I was losing many of the things I loved about the Academy.

I have loved horses since I was little and joined Equestrian Club as soon as I got to the Academy. With many activities curtailed, I chose this time to become more serious about my riding - and to bring a few friends along for the ride. It was amazing to have the chance to share my passion with my friends and watch them fall in love with my sport. We started going out riding more often and developed deeper relationships with one another and with the animals we rode. After feeling that many things were “taken away” by the pandemic, it was a great consolation to still have a passion toward which I could direct my energy. It was a balm to the sense of loss and sometimes loneliness that came with the pandemic.

As the semester went on, I was able to discover more passions. I went along to horse shows with our club advisor and learned how to take photos of horses, especially in action. I fell in love with photography and looked forward to the weekends when I would be able to practice my new craft at the shows. Other cadets came with me. Together, we found creative ways to be together and pursue what we loved while staying safe. Moreover, going to events all over the area and seeing people of all ages enjoying themselves and persevering through the difficulties of the new post-COVID world was inspiring. It challenged us to be creative and intentional with the way we spend our time.

Despite the many challenges of the past semester, I am excited to come back for more. While I still reminisce over the things I lost, it is hard to be sad for long when there is so much that I have gained. I can’t wait to get my billet in March and see what the next chapter has in store for me!