What I Wish I Knew Before Living on Campus During a Pandemic
It’s undeniable that last semester was a roller coaster ride for most of us, but what semester of college isn’t? Except this time, we’re all wearing masks, sitting a few seats away from each other, and generally having the weirdest year possible. There are endless things that would’ve been helpful to know before coming to campus last semester, so hopefully my knowledge may make your next ride on the ~Crimson Roller Coaster~ a bit more smooth sailing. Obligatory disclaimer that I am but a measly freshman who has no experience with pre-pandemic campus life, so maybe take everything I say with a few grains of salt ;)
The Packing Dilemma: What if I need it though?
I didn’t pack just for a pandemic… I packed for World War 3, a hurricane, and the very likely chance that I would go broke as soon as I stepped foot on campus. Although my wallet was in serious pain by the end of the semester, I didn’t actually end up using many things that I had brought along with me... like all three of the bookbags I had packed. Maybe I knew that the Yard squirrels were fearless, to the point where they would gang up on me to steal my precious bag when I stepped outside. This epic battle didn’t happen though, so I never needed my other bags. Now that I’m more aware that college students like staying comfy (it’s PJ day everyday!), and that an iPad with Goodnotes (for sure superior to Notability) is essentially every school supply packed in one, I definitely would have brought less to my dorm.
Living in Dorms While Being Dead Inside
Did my roommate and I have enough fans to start our own fan club? Yes. Did we have a bunch of spare furniture that just sat there with a bag of M&Ms in a random drawer? Yes. The living spaces were plenty spacious, but the massive amounts of furniture made the space look dreary. Me, with my big brain, had not bought many decorations, as we were told to pack lightly and only bring the necessities (I followed this to a T only when it came to decorations 0.0) — Zoom fatigue was only made worse by staring at the plain walls of the common room. I wish I would have known this so I could have decorated the space to make it look more livable! LED lights, plenty of pictures, tapestries, and a more colorful rug than the plain brown one I had would have been perfect for the impossible task of making my Zoom fatigue disappear. tl;dr: Please bring some sort of decor, you're really going to need it.
Hanging Out, And Hanging In
I have no idea whether it was the pandemic’s doing (though let’s be real, it definitely was), but most of my socializing took place while eating six feet apart from all my closest pals. Although there were many “we should eat together sometime” instances that ended up going nowhere (as expected), there were also some that were very fulfilling (literally and figuratively, considering how full I was afterwards). It was also healthy to step out of my dreary dorm to go work on the Widener Library steps, in the Yard, or at the Smith Campus Center — the new on-campus hotspots for seeing friends. I wish I would have gone to the Smith Center and Cabot Library sooner though, especially as the weather got colder and it became impossible to study outside. Hopefully you find such warm study spots earlier in the semester than I did!
Though we may finally know who’s going to be on campus this semester, it still feels totally up in the air what our time in Cambridge will actually end up looking like. Either way, hopefully my ~experiences~ are helpful on your next Crimson Roller Coaster ride!