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Though I rolled my eyes at the corny “Home Under the Dome” signs as I drove into campus for the first time, by the time I left for Christmas break my freshman year, this campus did feel like home. Having my sophomore year cut short a year later hurt for so many reasons. I had so many fun plans like the blue and gold game and darty season, and the world was so quickly falling apart with all future plans postponed indefinitely. Heading from my Notre Dame home, where my best friends and I live all smushed together in a tiny dorm room, to my home in New York where I live under my parent’s roof and rules was an adjustment, to say the least. 

I was so excited to be returning home to campus this fall, but upon returning I was overcome by feelings of uncertainty. Discussions with my friends have revealed  similar feelings of uneasiness being back. Yes, we are here, but what if here doesn’t feel like home? 

I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past two weeks; it seems like I have nothing but time in University shutdown. I obviously expected and understood that college would  be different during a pandemic and I want to make sure to keep my classmates, professors, and members of the South Bend community safe, but I think I was holding onto hope that returning to campus would bring some element of normalcy. While I may not be able to get that sense of the same home I left last March back, I have come up with a list of ways to safely establish a new normal in coronatimes! These are based on both psychologist recommendations for college students for online school and my own experiences.

Accept your feelings

I think this was the hardest part for me. I really went through the five stages of grief thinking about the time I lost at Notre Dame due to coronavirus. I understand that there are bigger problems than this and in the midst of everything, this complaint is very Kim Kardashian crying about losing her diamond earring. C’mon Emmie there are literally people dying. But still, as my favorite movie character Lady Bird says “Different things can be sad.” So take the time you need to be delusional, angry, bargaining, or sad.  I found a lot of comfort in accepting we are in this situation and some days are going to be better than others. Together we can make the best of the situation.

Establish a routine

Everything I read about how to excel in online school, quarantine, and pandemic era college said routine is key! I know better than anyone, sometimes you just want to lay in a sweatsuit and watch Tiktoks and nap all day long, but a routine is so helpful in making sure you stay on a sleeping and eating schedule and can overall improve your mental health. Changing out of pajamas can do wonders for your motivation. Because I had to move off campus after my abroad program was cancelled, it has been very different to come back this year and live so far from my beloved North Quad, but I have made this year feel more normal by forcing myself to be on a schedule similar to my schedule last year.

Find a way to safely do the things you love about being here 

This piggybacks on my last point, but I really mean it when I say it's the little things I love about Notre Dame and that makes it feel like home. You might have to get creative in these unique times,but doing little things that remind you of Notre Dame can make the biggest difference. My roommate and I love North Dining Hall egg burritos, and though we cannot get them on campus anymore, we love to make them in our kitchen and reminisce on our dining hall brunches. Maybe make a playlist of your favorite songs that remind you of Notre Dame and listen to them with your friends outside. I loved Yoga Sculpt classes in Duncan, and there are a ton of options on Youtube, no equipment required!

Make time for yourself and your friends

College is usually stressful; assignments, relationships, sleeping, exercising, and now a pandemic on top of all that. Be kind to yourself and to your friends. Check in on them. Facetime out of the blue. Send them Tiktoks that remind you of them. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and have bad days. Reach out for help if you need it. Call your mom. Cry. I can try to give advice, but these are unprecedented times and were all just trying to do the best we can, and allow that to be good enough.

Get excited about the future!

Enjoy what you can now and look forward to an epic comeback! Gamedays are coming! Pick out some outfits and make a tailgate playlist. There will be more St. Joe’s Lake sunsets, dining hall dates, SYRs, late nights in Hes, quarter dogs, Sunday Scaries, and good times. We will get there.

All we can do now is control our own actions and feelings and appreciate the time we have together. 

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Emmie McCabe

Notre Dame '22

Hi! I am Emmie McCabe. I am a junior at the University of Notre Dame and I am from Long Island, New York. I am studying psychology and political science.
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