Returning to campus and preparing to leave


Torch Photo/ Spencer Clinton

There was a point last summer when I imagined that the world would have returned to normal by September. Clearly, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I suppose throwing in-person classes back into the mix was an attempt to give students some semblance of normalcy during a time like this, but all of my classes during the fall semester were virtual. Now, during my final semester of college, I have one in-person class. Stepping back onto campus as a senior this semester for the first time but also knowing it is my last feels … weird — and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Campus feels like a different place. What once was full of life, music and laughter is now just students walking to class and then immediately back to their residence hall. Where it used to only feel quiet during class time, silence is now constant. No one gathers in groups to catch-up after class on the walkways and most people walk to class alone. 

Seeing signs about “maximum occupancy” on classroom doors and stickers reminding people about social distancing on the floor are subtle reminders of the times we live in. Additionally, the hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes at the front of each classroom strike the question: why were these not here before the pandemic? But if one thing feels the same, it’s the students that don’t listen — the ones that keep their noses out of their masks during class with no regard for their at-risk professor or classmates. 

One surprising find was the self-checkout option in the Montgoris Marketplace (though it has its faults). I don’t know if the thought there was to reduce face-to-face interaction, or if the University always had plans to install it, but it’s one of those things that definitely would have made sense to install a long time ago. 

I know it’s the dead of winter but it all still just feels different. I don’t have a reason to linger around on campus anymore, and in a pandemic I don’t really want to anyway. Still, I miss the days where I could buy an overpriced drink at Starbucks and sit with my laptop in my lap while I scroll on my phone in DAC. I could be completely wrong given my limited view, but from what I’ve seen, things have changed. 

The quiet and the lack of gathering makes sense — and given the health and safety circumstances, I’d prefer it be that way — but as a senior it stings to know my college experience as I once knew it is slipping away.