Scarborough. Downtown. North York. The four words and three regions perfectly sum up my life in Toronto. Whenever I’m not at home, my closest companions know that I’m scrolling through the city — on the bus or on my feet. Throughout university, I’ve developed a habit of exploring to escape the stress of assignments and schoolwork. Ever since I started finding the treasures of different cultures and urban landscapes, I knew that adventures were more than just a ‘college student’ phase.

Three months after 2020 started, I still thought that this year would be the same as last. That was the naïve version of me at its best. Clearly, I was wrong, as I still spend most of the time in my room, fumbling through pages of notes and yawning during online classes. Although staying at home may have been ideal at first, I miss the places outside of my community.

So, I embarked on a physically distant journey to UTSC to remember and relive the moments I experienced last year. As soon as I hopped off the bus, I realized that this visit was unlike the others, as the campus itself has become a ghost town.

I headed onto the sidewalk by myself; only two students were in sight. The atmosphere remained silent as I walked near the daycare. Not knowing if I was being watched or not, I quickly snapped a shot of the festive playground, filled with Halloween-related decorations.

The smiling pumpkin hanging in the front of the house can be spotted, just like an entrance to Halloweentown. Quickly, I walked up the stairs and found myself standing in front of the Arts and Administration building. The U of T flag was still rising in the air, greeting the students who would visit every so often. But who will be there to notice it?

I walked to the quad, near Highland Hall. Not a peep or a sound could be heard from anywhere.

Many of the entrances were locked and for the first time ever, I can say that navigating through the campus was like completing a maze. The outdoors scared me, so I thought that I should explore some of the inside instead. I entered the building and the surroundings suddenly transitioned into a darker colour. Reds, oranges, and greens turned into black, and security camera labels popped up beside me.

But amidst the darkness, I made it through and found The Varsity’s newspaper stand.

After grabbing the latest issue, I walked toward my favourite spot: the valley. Unsurprisingly, students gathered around the area and shared their opinions. UTSC suddenly seemed more revived than an abandoned place.

Seeing so many students together, I realized that perhaps I can explore again soon. It may not be in the near future, as COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, nor will it be near an abandoned place. Regardless of where I will be, I hope to soon share that memory with a friend.

The pandemic happened in the blink of an eye, and no one had the time to even say goodbye. But I believe that soon enough, we will be able to accomplish our old plans and cherish them with memories.