From the Editor: What Is It REALLY Like On Campus?

Long story short, living on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic sucks. Everything about living on campus is so different that it’s a completely new experience, and a lonely one at that. COVID-19 has changed almost everything, tangible or not. This article serves as a time capsule, a virtual gallery of what it’s been like to be a resident during such unprecedented times. 

 

So, long story long: 

  1. 1. Dining

    woman eating hamburger

    The dining hall, for instance, is a completely different experience. Instead of dining in and socializing like in faint memories from almost an entire year ago, we now order our food from an unchanging menu on a finicky app and then go pick it up from the Nine & Ten Dining Hall (living in Crown and Merrill means that the meal is probably lukewarm before you get home to eat it). The five minutes spent inside the dining hall each meal pick-up is a literal walk down memory lane; the meals I enjoyed there just last Winter Quarter feel like they occurred decades ago rather than just nine months. 

  2. 2. Classes

    Journal in front of laptop

    Everybody, on campus or not, is impacted by virtual learning. Those of us that are currently at school have it a little easier since we have more privacy and quiet to focus on our zoom lectures. This does not mean that any of us are necessarily having an easy time with virtual learning. Despite the fact that I live in an on-campus apartment, alone with pretty much zero distractions, I still find myself incapable of interacting with and absorbing the material in the same capacity as I used to pre-COVID. Virtual learning with no in-person interaction makes the entire process feel less real, including consequences such as failure.

  3. 3. Campus

    What feels even less real is my connection to the university - the students and the physical campus itself. A few weeks ago, Santa Cruz experienced its first rain which snapped me back to the reality that there is an empty campus for me to explore. I walked from the Crown Apartments to McHenry Library and back and immersed myself in what the campus has become since the pandemic hit. On Thanksgiving, I took another walk around Science Hill. Both times it was eerily quiet and entirely empty. I didn’t pass another person either day. 

     

    Also, living alone, almost completely isolated, makes me feel separate from the campus even though I am physically there. Although it isn’t quite so eerie in the dorms (there are higher chances for interpersonal interactions), the apartments are disturbingly quiet most of the time. Sometimes I forget that there is a whole tangible world outside of the walls that I can experience instead of peer at through the looking glass, social media.

  4. 4. Community

    Zoom meeting with coffee

    Student organizations and clubs are still trying to engage students, Her Campus included. Student Governments are still operating, and so are classics like Fishrap! Magazine and City on a Hill Press. Through zoom, though, it’s difficult to feel truly connected and find common ground to bond over. When meetings and programs are done, you’re left with an empty screen instead of a room full of budding friendships so it is virtually impossible (pardon the pun) to feel like a part of the community. I know I’m physically on campus, however I feel no more connected to the school than students tuning in from home. 

All of this combines to create a little bubble for each resident to feel disjointed from reality and the rest of the world. With the influx of residents moving back to campus in January, an influx of change is en route, too. Keep a look out for an update at the end of Winter Quarter ;)