College during COVID-19: Living on campus during a global pandemic

By Jillian LaFeir

“We are living an unprecedented time,” is the phrase I’m sure we are all sick of by now.

After hearing it constantly for months, whether from commercials that adjusted their ad campaigns to the COVID-19 outbreak in record time, government officials or news broadcasts, it is practically unavoidable. As irritating as the phrase has become to some, it is undeniably true, and during these “unprecedented” times, it is hard to know if you’re ever making the right decisions. Choosing to go back to school this semester and live on campus was no exception to that. It was a decision that I spent many sleepless nights contemplating and weighing out every option, until ultimately deciding to live back on campus.

The beginning of this year felt like entering freshman year all over again — everything was different, there were new rules to learn, social etiquette to be conscious of, a new learning style to adjust to and, frankly, I was petrified. Now that I’ve moved onto campus, I am worried about getting sick and spreading the virus to someone else. The process of getting something to eat on campus makes me a nervous wreck every time. I am so worried I will make a mistake in the procedure, which feels like it has no room for error, that by the time I reach the temperature station, I am sweating so much I worry that I may have stressed myself into a fever. To top it all off, I have to fear someone insulting me to my face because I am wearing a mask outside even when no one is in my immediate vicinity.

However, the pros of living on campus, personally, outweighed the cons. After experiencing online classes both on campus and at home, I knew I would achieve the most success when fully immersed in the learning environment where the school was not constantly overshadowed by everyday distractions mixed with a lack of motivation. For the sake of my academic success and mental well-being, living on campus was the best decision for me; hopefully, this continues to hold.

Luckily, my roommate and good friend, Delaney Putt, a sophomore, had a similar thought process that led to her opting to live on campus this semester. Putt described how overwhelming, “living in a house full of the family all working from home,” would become. Therefore she is, “grateful to have the opportunity to live on campus this semester.” Having a friend to go through this new and unusual experience only makes the situation easier and all the more worth it. We have each other to lean on in times of stress, a motivator in times of procrastination and a source of comic relief when it all gets too serious.

Before you even start college, everyone who has already gone assures you it will be the best four years of your life. You begin to imagine how much fun it will be — all the friends you will make, clubs you will join and classes you will take. Never once would you imagine a global pandemic leading to remote learning, wearing masks and not hanging out with more than two people at a time. While this is not the experience I could have ever predicted, any experience is better than no experience. If living on campus this year means I have to spend more days crocheting in my room instead of going out to see all of my friends at once, so be it.

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