That’s the phrase that we have all heard from our professors and teachers. It’s their acknowledgement that college, an already difficult thing to do under any circumstances, is made all the more challenging by the fact that we are living through a pandemic. This phrase lets us know that nothing has been quite the same these past two semesters, and probably won’t be for the next few, either.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things about college, at least for me personally. Firstly, it created an underlying uncertainty about what the semester would end up looking like. Would we make it through the whole semester on campus, or would we be sent home for another couple of remote months? Would we see our friends on campus amidst all of the guidelines surrounding social interaction? Personally, I wasn’t so sure that we would still be on campus by the time Thanksgiving break rolled around, but I’m so glad I was wrong!
This past fall was a strange semester, that’s for sure. Gone were the days of a bunch of friends watching a movie and eating popcorn together. Unfortunately, there weren’t any debate watch parties to attend in Ho 101, and it was very sad to not be able to hang out in Flour and Salt with a bagel and sipping on a mocha latte. But, one of the many good things that did come out of Fall 2020 was a new appreciation for Hamilton and the many outdoor, socially distanced opportunities that it has to offer. My friends and I discovered the trail behind the Wendt Inn, where we would run on the weekends. I learned to appreciate bike riding not just as a means for exercise, but as a way to get Dunkin with my friend before my 8:30 class on Thursdays. And don’t even get me started on how much I loved being able to go to the farmers’ market every Saturday and get some flowers or a zucchini chocolate chip muffin, even while socially distanced and masked. Hamilton really is a wonderful little town, and I am happy to say that I learned to love it even more this past semester.
Being able to study on campus and attend my classes in person this past fall has also given me a new appreciation for my fellow Colgate students. Thanks to the commitment (I know, I know, you’ve heard that word so many times recently) and dedication of each student, whether on campus or remote, and the willingness to sacrifice a “normal” semester for the ability to be together for those three months, we were able to make the Colgate experience as authentic as possible in these “unprecedented times.”
In short, this past semester was different, that’s for sure. It was hard to make it feel like a normal semester, given all of the new rules and changes that had to be brought about to keep us there. But, even with the unique nature of last semester, everyone who loves Colgate and Hamilton banded together to make it as close to normal as it could be, and for that, I am grateful.