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

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Her Campus at the University of Pennsylvania! We’re so happy you decided to join us again, and we aspire to be a source of joy, diversion, or inspiration, no matter where life has taken you last year. Our new batch of writers and staff are excited to take the semester by storm with fresh ideas, perspectives, and stories to share. From covering current events to reviewing entertainment vehicles to writing addictive listicles, we want to whisk you away from the stresses of your real-life responsibilities.

Starting today, we’ll be publishing our launch week articles, highlighting writers both old and new who stepped up to write the first pieces of the semester! These will include a variety of fall–themed articles leading up to Halloween, so enjoy a spooky, haunting opening week. After all, who doesn’t love the autumn aesthetic or how it feels when the weather gets cool enough for oversized sweaters and sunset-colored décor?

Last year’s Halloween was overshadowed by the pandemic, and we all scrambled to find the best ways to stay safe and protect the people we love. Halloween rituals like parties or trick or treating were both unsafe and unfeasible. The lighthearted fun of the holiday was one of many things we lost; perhaps it was one of the least consequential — but it was still emblematic of all the sacrifices made during an unprecedented time.

If there were any experiences or events you had to miss out on, take solace in the fact that you’re not alone; the entire HC community had to deal with the same disappointment and obstacles you did. We made the most of last year by writing articles about everything from mask fashion to pandemic–safe celebrations to Zoom etiquette, but there was a palpable sense of loss shared by the entire global community.

In a way, what’s unique about this Halloween is that we’re all going to have to find a way to celebrate the horror and fear that defines the season without succumbing to how genuinely frightening the last year has actually been. I’m sure future horror movies will be thematically discussing the dangers of contagion, the horrors of virus spread, and fear of crowded spaces and illness that will live on in the public consciousness. The lines between reality and fiction have never been so blurred.

Hopefully, this last year has had at least one positive side effect: we’ve walked away with more stories — about ourselves, about our experiences, and about all the obstacles we’ve overcome. We’ve now faced situations we perhaps never imagined before; in overcoming them, our perspectives and the stories we tell have irrevocably changed. Perhaps Her Campus will be the vehicle of this change, the place where we can all express ourselves together.

Looking back, I think I’m a completely different person from who I was last Halloween. This is the semester I returned to campus in-person since quarantine; I feel the acute loss of the last year spent taking classes over Zoom. However, I can’t help but feel privileged to have access to the vaccine and be part of Penn’s community once again.

As a senior, I want to make the most of my last year with Her Campus. It’s an organization that’s meant a lot to me and allowed me to publish some of the pieces I’m proudest of. Hopefully, this semester, it’ll do the same for our new staff, who I want to welcome just as I welcome you.

I hope you get the chance to go all out on Halloween. Make the most of the spooky season we missed last year because we’ve already been through the scariest thing we could have ever imagined. Above all, however, whether you’re trick or treating, dressing up as your favorite character, or going to a Halloween party, stay safe and take care of yourself.

Welcome back!

Harshita is an English major and Pre-Med attending her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. She loves musicals, good food, and long naps! She is inspired by all the women at Her Campus and is delighted to be serving as Senior Editor for Her Campus @ Penn!