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Adjusting to the New Normal on Campus

“We are living through unprecedented times.” We have all heard this phrase a little too much recently, especially since returning to campus a few weeks ago. Everywhere we turn there are reminders of how not normal everything is. 

 

All summer I tried to keep my expectations low. I constantly reminded myself that if we were lucky enough to return to campus this fall, things would look different. Still I found myself dreaming of Saturdays spent downtown on St. Catherine’s, spin classes in the KLARC, and even waiting in line at the Flyson for Nacho Tots. After less than one month back I can already say this semester has been an emotional rollercoaster of constantly readjusting those expectations.

 

But as I write this, I can’t help but smile that it has been almost a month since students first arrived on campus. As hopeful as I was for all of those things, I also never thought we would make it this far. Bucknell students have shown a surprising ability and willingness to adapt to this new normal. Adjusting means different things for different people. For me and my friends, we found ourselves with ample time to explore the Lewisburg area more through hiking, visiting different local attractions (I highly recommend Reptile Land), and just going on long drives through the country. This has given me a whole new appreciation for this area and everything it has to offer. 

 

As much as I have had issues with the University’s handling of our return, I have also been impressed with how Bucknell students have responded to the situation. Students have been gripped by an increased sense of urgency and activism over racial injustice and food insecurity on our campus and are advocating for change through social media, campus organizations, and student government. I used to describe Bucknell as a fairly apathetic campus, but I can no longer say that; it seems that every student and faculty member has an opinion to share about these issues, along with many more. Much of this activism has been aimed at the University and its administration, but it is rooted in wanting our school to be better. As a school that is starkly divided down by athletic, Greek, and socioeconomic lines, our collective vision for Bucknell’s community seems to transcend those differences. There is an energy of self-preservation among Bucknell students, especially upperclassmen, which pushes us to do what we need to do in order to stay here. 

 

That being said, I still have days where I feel socially deprived and fearful for the future here, and that’s okay. This “new normal” takes some getting used to. As someone who compulsively plans for the future, I am constantly slowing myself down to live just one week at a time because the future remains uncertain, and that is absolutely terrifying. But this is also a chance to be spontaneous with our social life, no longer glued to St. Catherine’s Street every weekend, but committed to spending time with the people we are most comfortable with; to pay more attention to social issues on our campus; to explore the community that welcomes Bucknell students despite the risks it poses to locals; and to be patient with ourselves as we navigate our ever changing emotions. 

 

Shana Clapp

Bucknell '23

Shana is a senior at Bucknell University and is majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Women's & Gender Studies. She loves to read historical fiction, listen to podcasts, and sit on the Quad at sunset.
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