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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I made the (extremely) last minute decision to not live in the dorms for this Spring 2021 semester, and it was the best thing I could have done.

As a freshman, my college experience so far has been quite lackluster, and overall, not what I had foreseen my first year at “ZooMass” to be like. So, when the opportunity arose for all freshmen to live on campus this Spring, my initial reaction was “well, duh, of course I’m going to go.” The chance at having a semi-normal year amidst the reality of our COVID-central world was exciting and felt like exactly what I was supposed to do. After all, college is all about living away from home and meeting new people in a brand new environment. I was not going to miss out on the opportunity for safe, social interactions and forming connections with other students – something we have all been deprived of for obvious reasons. Thus, I submitted my housing application, picked out a single dorm, and that was that.

New Girl Nick Miller Frustrated GIF
Giphy / Fox
Only that was not that, because after discussing the whole situation with my parents about 100 times, I realized that I wasn’t sure living on campus this semester was the best decision for me. For safety reasons, having all the freshmen back in one space after months and months of social isolation was a recipe for disaster. At least in my mind, most 18-19 year olds I have come into contact with would choose a party over COVID guidelines any day, and this thought did not sit right with me. You’d expect almost all young adults to respect the rules and be grateful to have the opportunity to live there, but you would also be wrong in that assumption. Of course not all freshmen are like this; most are conscious of others, but the bad decisions of the careless ones outweigh those of the good. Although I am not trying to blame or call anyone out here, this is just one of the reasons I decided to stay home. If I went and potentially came into contact with someone with COVID who had been partying, and then somehow gave it to others or my family without knowing, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. I was just not willing to risk that and took myself out of the equation. 

There were other reasons that swayed me to stay in my childhood home for the semester too, one of those being my family. Throughout the past year of quarantine, I have grown incredibly close with my sister and have grown my relationship with my parents as well. Leaving now when things are so good seemed foolish and would be something I’d regret. This seems to be the perfect time to slow down the clock on life and relish the moments I may not have had otherwise. I cherish the time I have with my family and am looking forward to having till the end of the summer to continue our bonding. Along with this comes the element of mental health and its part in my decision. I often struggle with severe anxiety and its different variations, and throughout the past year I have felt myself come a long way with help. But, with saying that, I also have the gut feeling that I have a lot more growing to do in this sense. Staying home will allow me to have that room to be more in tune with my health and to become the strongest I can be mentally. As weird as it may sound, I never realized how much left I had to do in my small hometown when I had been so keen on getting out as quickly as possible. Although I am not someone who is usually spiritual, I do believe in fate and I think my current path has led me here – even if that sounds insane. I think this period of life will be beneficial to shaping who I am and becoming who I want to be. I cannot imagine shifting the balance right now by going hours away from my current life and simultaneously exploring a new world when I am still attempting to figure out this one. 

Lana Condor Peter Kavinsky GIF by NETFLIX
Netflix / Giphy

Although COVID may have been the main physical reason for me staying home, I think it is providing me with the push to better myself and flourish.

Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst