Back to school during a Pandemic

This is new for all of us. We've been social distancing since mid-march. Spring semester 2020 led me to having an extended spring break. I was excited to have that additional week off, but little did I know that week would turn into five months of mayhem. I took classes remotely, one professor adjusted flawlessly to virtual learning-in fact, it looked like he thrived in it-while the other, unintentionally gave us another week off from class as technology was not his friend. I, like the rest of the population, battled periods of doubt and period of optimism. I thought, "Maybe we could get back to a 'new normal' by Fall 2020. Maybe this summer is the worst of it. We'll get a hold of this virus and go back to our friends on campus'." By the start of my summer classes, I realized this would not be the case and just this week I learned that the plans for a hybrid Fall semester have gone down the drain with my summer. Not only are we not having any in-person classes, but even student housing won't be provided. I understand it's for our safety. I get it, but I can't help but feel sorry for my fellow students, particularly first and last year students. I remember move in being a huge production. The summer before Freshman year, I, like many students around me, split my time between Bed Bath and Beyond and Target finding the perfect dorm room bed set and decor. I spent hours upon hours in the mall trying to find the perfect back to school attire that was more grown than high school, but still cute and chic for a first year college student. Come orientation, I remember the Ivy League gates opening, the free college swag, ALL THE FOOD, the attention from staff and upperclassmen, meeting my hall mates and roommates, the first nights after our parents left and the feeling of true freedom. And I was able to experience this again, and again, for three more glorious years. I lived with my best friends, and all my friends were within blocks of each other. Late night study sessions turned into late night jam sessions. Hoagies at 1am were the norm. BYOs for a class favorite. Study groups blossomed into life long friendships. It was so much fun, but now for our safety, the social component of college is gone. I'm grateful to Zoom, to Facetime, to Skype, to Google Hangouts to keep me connected with my friends and classmates, but it doesn't supplant the community feeling I had in person and on campus. All that said, this is a period of change, adapting, and growth. I'm grateful for the resources that have burst onto the scene to help ease this transition. I'm grateful that we're all in this together. I'm intrigued by the plans for virtual orientations and graduations. I'm hopeful for my generation and later and I'm pleasantly surprised and moved by that sense of community I have found with my classmates now as we make the best of our situation and realize we truly are all in this together.

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