If You're Away From School

When the coronavirus pandemic sent everyone home from college back in March, I did not think twice about how the fall semester would be impacted. I mean, the virus was supposed to fade away before then and life would only be put on pause for a couple of months, remember?

My mom took a picture of me and my best friend, and I put it on my Instagram story with the caption, “Until next semester”. I did not expect that this statement would not hold true, and I certainly did not expect that I would not be seeing my school friends, the people who became a family, for eight months and counting. 

Because of the uncertainties surrounding the ongoing pandemic, I have decided to not return to the University of Rhode Island for my sophomore year. For the last semester, I have attended community college, and it has been a different experience, to say the least. I did not envision my college years to be spent this way, but I know I am not the only one, and I will not be the last one to face unexpected course changes. Here are a few tips and lessons I have picked up this past semester being home for anyone who is facing the same:

  1. 1. Leaving Isn't Easy

    woman looking at the trees in front of the sun

    Leaving a life that I created for myself in my freshman year has been like missing a piece of myself. I went into college with the mindset that it will become a place where I will find who I am and who I want to become. I joined multiple clubs, a pre-professional co-ed fraternity, and I jumped into playing sports, even some that I have never tried before. I found people who have become the closest friends I have ever had, so going from living with them to not seeing them at all is surely not anything to celebrate. Being around family all the time can be a beautiful thing, but missing the independence from being away can get tricky, so it is a good idea to put away time for yourself. Anyone in the same boat can likely relate to this feeling of missing all of the school experiences that were supposed to be consistent, but deciding to switch to a positive mindset can be alleviating. Let’s not think of this moment away as something awful or permanent, but rather take it as a time of appreciation. I have never realized how lucky I am to have had the experiences I did over the course of my freshman year, even considering it was cut short. No, it isn’t easy being away from something I grew to love, but I have shifted to thinking about how incredible it is that I have something to miss so much.

  2. 2. Your Friends Won't forget You

    three women with face masks

    One of my biggest fears when taking a leave of absence was that my friends would not think to contact me while they continued on with school life. I was worried that I would be out of sight and out of mind, but since being home, I realize that friendship is not bound by proximity. I still talk to my friends every single day, and Facetime is a real life-saver. It is important to remember that we have the technology to keep us constantly connected, so if missing out is one of your stresses, I recommend not sweating it too much. The people who mean the most always pull through, and you always have the opportunity to reach out too. Just think of Olaf: some friends are worth melting for. If he’d melt for his friends, yours won’t forget to keep you in the loop. I ended up talking to some of my friends more than ever, which has been a pleasant surprise!

  3. 3. You'll Have Time to Think

    When making the decision to go to college and continue my education, I was really lost. I tell people that I “want to do everything," and I genuinely worry that if I have to stick to one major or one path, I will get stuck with no exploration. Since beginning at URI, I decided to pick up a double major and a minor, and I am trying my best to keep my inquisitive spirit alive. I know that many of the college students I speak to find themselves in the same boat of either worrying about making the wrong decision or following the wrong paths. Taking a step away, especially in a time where being around too many people with many swaying opinions, is not even allowed. However, much time is granted for thinking and reconnecting to yourself. I have used a lot of my time away from the bustling life on campus to explore options as well as post-college opportunities. This has fueled my motivation, and I am excited to learn again! Even if you are still on campus, it is always beneficial to give yourself time to reflect on what you want and what is important. It is your life, so you go out there and live it, girl!

If you have stepped away from campus and college life for any reason, I know it can be trying and confusing to get on the best course for success. I have experienced the same, so I want to express that you are not alone. You still have people cheering you on every step of the way, and if you ever forget, just revisit this article, and remember that you are strong and beautiful. And if you’re a fellow ram... Rhody Rhody Rhody!