Fall 2020 has arrived and virtual school is in session for many, through 8 a.m. Zoom lectures and online coffee meetings. Whether or not you’re in favor of the new adjustments, anyone doing online school can admit that the transition in everyday routine has been rocky, if not a complete disturbance to the standard quality of education.
If you’re living at home this semester, you aren’t alone. If you’re like me, and going back and forth between your parents’ house and your place on campus for the next few months, you may be missing the freedom and fun that living on or near campus brought to your university and college experience. However, this is the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with your hometown, fall back in love with the streets you grew up in as a child, and express gratitude for the life it ultimately led you to live. Here are six ways to enjoy spending your fall 2020 semester at home, instead of just counting down the days until you can be back on campus.
- Explore your neighborhood
If you’ve been living in your town since you were a child, chances are you used to bike along familiar streets and knew all the best spots to hang out and chill. Refamiliarize yourself with those same spots by biking, skateboarding or walking around your area. You might find the trail you and your friends would travel down as kids, or even discover a new study spot that you’ve never been to before.
The photo pictured above was taken of me, on the roof of my local community center parking garage. My sister and I realized it could also double as a makeshift skate park, and we ended up coming here often throughout the summer.
- Build healthy habits for when you do move back
If you’re not overloaded with schoolwork, use this time to build healthy habits so that when you do move back, you’re well prepared to take on both your academic and social life on campus. Be honest with yourself: were all those energy drinks, blackout drunk party weekends, and all-nighters really good for your mental and physical thriving? Steal one of your parents’ cookbooks and become a master chef, so when you get back to school, you can actually cook solid meals for yourself. Get a new organization system going for all your courses and study sessions! Or invest in a yoga mat and start meditating away all of the anxiety that the school year has brought into your psyche. They say it takes about three months to break a bad habit and train yourself into a new one, so get moving!
- Support local businesses
Did you have a favorite local boutique or restaurant while you were growing up? Chances are they’re in need of your support right now. Support your small town businesses by studying at a patio of your local coffee shop or ordering takeout to your doorstep. Remember that everyone is going through a hard time right now, and helping each other out makes it easier on not only your well-being, but others’ livelihood as well.
- Get reacquainted with your community
Now is the perfect time to connect to the community that raised you to become the person you are today, and there are so many easy ways to give back. Find an organization in your town that sparks your interest and inquire about volunteering with them. Does your town have a local food bank? Community garden? Are there fundraisers for your first responders? Does the second hand clothing store need gently-used textiles donated? Help them out!
- Reconnecting with old friends and family
Sometimes it’s not the place that makes a town feel like home, it’s the people. Maybe you’ve become distanced with your sibling or parents in the time that you were gone for school. Maybe you fell out of touch with old high school friends and old flames who you thought you’d lost for good when you guys packed up and left to different life paths. Reach out to the people close to you (social distancing and pandemic rules permitting, of course) and maybe go get that coffee with someone you’ve missed but haven’t had time for until now. Repair and form new bonds in your relationships. After all, these are the folks you grew up with; there’s something about that that’s unbreakable.
- Give your childhood bedroom a makeover
Maybe your bedroom walls are still bubblegum pink from when you picked out that paint swatch when you were five years old. Maybe your closet is bursting with stuffed animals and plushies whose names you can’t remember anymore. If you plan on being in town for the entire semester (or year), living in a bedroom that you enjoy spending time in will only make it all the more bearable. Repaint your walls, move your furniture around, and buy new bedsheets. Hang up the LED lights and tapestry from your campus dorm. Modernize your room so it looks like something the 2020 version of yourself would live in, and I can guarantee you’ll sleep way better in that bed at night.
I know it sucks to feel like the world is moving on without you, while you’re stuck back in your small town where you’ve spent most of your life already. Yes, it’s a weird adjustment to make. Everyone is making weird adjustments right now. Let’s make it easier on ourselves and everyone else and make the best out of our circumstances, and we’ll be back on campus in no time.