It’s 10:35 a.m. and my first class of the day ends. I walk around campus before my next class, passing my friends on the way to Saxbys, where I stand in a crowded line waiting for my Daily Grind smoothie. After two more classes, I go back to my sorority house. The circle tables in the kitchen are full of laughter as everyone is eating and catching up.
If you asked me to describe a typical day in my life in college six months ago, that would have been my answer. But after a global pandemic, even that question has seemed to be replaced by one we never expected to hear: Are you going back to school?
Most campuses across the nation have switched to entirely remote learning, while those that are attempting to proceed with in-person classes are failing. Although Lehigh only welcomed freshmen to campus this semester, I still decided to rent an off-campus house in Bethlehem so that I could at least quarantine with my friends.
However, even though I am two blocks away from campus, I can’t visit. I can’t access any buildings. I can’t go to my sorority house. I can’t gather with more than 10 people at a time.
As a journalism major, it’s crucial to engage the community by interviewing and interacting with sources, but now everything must be done over Zoom.
I haven’t seen some of my friends since we were released from school in March, and I don’t know when I will see them next.
Above all, wearing a mask everywhere and sanitizing incessantly doesn’t wash away your worries of catching the contagious illness that caused all of this in the first place.
It’s no question that our college experience was robbed from us, but rather than letting it defeat us, we must find ways to adjust to it.
As I start the second week of classes, I’ve been taking appreciation for the little things that come with a remote learning experience.
For starters, I can eat breakfast during class. I don’t have to worry about the professor saying it’s not allowed, about anyone having allergies to my favorite snacks or about chewing too loudly.
I am never late to class, and if I am running late, I don’t have to worry about fixing my appearance before I rush across campus. By not physically going to class, and not passing a ton of my friends on the way, I can sit back and learn makeup-free in my comfiest sweatshirt.
And believe me, you will be very thankful to stay home for classes when it starts snowing.
This time that we have while we learn remotely is also a time for us to learn more about ourselves. It’s time to focus on that side hustle or passion project that you’ve been waiting to start. While our generation is losing out on the college experience, we have the opportunity to work on building more resume experience.
After we were released from school in March and confined to our houses, I co-founded an online magazine with five other women from Lehigh, completed a remote internship and finally published my first book. It’s amazing what you will be able to accomplish with the extra time you have at home.
I certainly struggled to come to terms with the fact that my college experience won’t be the same, but I’m determined to make the most of it.