A few weeks ago, college students were given the shock of their semesters. Colleges and universities around the country began to nationally declare an early ending to the Spring semester. We were told that because of the virus COVID-19, that out of an abundance of caution, campuses would be closed for at least two weeks. We were to pack a bag with plenty of belongings as we would not know when we were coming back for sure and to pack up our schoolwork for online classes. We had to be off campus in just a few days.
I remember getting the email from the President saying that school would be closing for a few weeks and that we had to return home. Immediately, cries of frustration erupted from not only my dorm, but other rooms on my floor. Some of us had just gotten back from Spring break that day and packing up again was not only annoying, but also angering. At the time, many of us did not understand the severity of what was going on around us. We were Freshmen and our judgment was partially clouded by the idea that we were supposed to be in our dorms pulling all-nighters with our peers, going out, and even complaining about the dining hall food. That’s what college is supposed to be right? Now after not seeing our friends and beloved dorms for a week, they wanted us to leave again. Reluctantly, we called our parents, booked our flights, and packed our bags to go home, some of us even trying to see the brightside. However, we had no idea what was to come.
After a few days at home, things went from bad to worse to awful. A national Pandemic was declared, and colleges began to shut down for good. Study abroad programs were cancelled, and travel bans were placed. I refreshed my email at least once every hour and sure enough the dreaded update eventually appeared. My suite group chat blew up and what started out as anger slowly turned to confusion and then to sadness. I remember tearing up at the fact that I would not be here to finish my freshman year, the traditional way. Of course, it was nice to do class in pajamas, work, and even see my best friend who was also coming home and went to college six hours away from me, but it still did not feel right. I felt like we had finally transitioned into college and bonded and now we were being torn away from each other. Instagram was filled with an abundance of posts and stories of people saying goodbye on social media to their new college roommates, friends, and significant others and I will admit I did participate. These were people that I saw first thing in the morning and last thing before I closed my eyes and now I would not. It sounds ridiculous that you can become so close to people you have known for a few months, but it is true. Of course, I completely understand why colleges did what they did, and I believe that this is a very serious problem we all need to do our part in order to help. But that does not take away the disappointment of being ripped from what and who you have come to love in such a short amount of time.
I do believe that out of everyone, this sucks the most for seniors. I cannot imagine my last semester of college ending like this and I can only hope that I can say goodbye to my alma mater in a much calmer and happier way. However, no matter how you look at it, this sucks for freshmen too. We quite literally just got here. SJU was becoming our home and the people, our family. We had started to get involved on campus and adjust, somewhat, completely to “adulting.” The people who got us through our Freshman year are no longer physically by our side and we must virtually sustain these extremely new relationships. However, I think we should take this as a lesson. Class of 2023, we cannot take these years for granted. Life is unpredictable and you never know when your last day on campus will be. Before we know it, we will be Seniors getting ready to graduate and go our separate ways. We need to make the most of the time we have left no matter what the circumstances are. So, I encourage you to pick your head up, be thankful for the memories you do have and be eager to make more. We will get through this so let’s make these next three years amazing! (Oh, and PLEASE wash your hands;)