By Olivia Bowman
After a summer of trying to keep up with College President Kathryn Foster’s ‘Corona-Missive’ emails, I was unsure what to expect when I was assigned to a five-person apartment in Hausdoerffer Hall by myself for the fall.
My parents and I were unloading my belongings from our cars in front of my building to get ready to bring them in and unpack. I knew that it would be empty in there, and as we began pushing boxes down the hall, I saw that I was right.
There was one name on every apartment door, but the halls were vacant. I have to admit that I felt a little bit discouraged. I knew that there would be big changes because of Covid-19. However, I was still nervous.
About a week before coming to campus, I created a Facebook group called “On Campus Fall 2020” for the College's students who are living on campus or in off-campus housing to connect with one another. I hope that some people were at least able to exchange information.
It took me a full week to unpack all of my stuff in my apartment because I felt like there was no rush since no one else would be moving in. My clothes laid strewn in my bedroom waiting to get hung up for longer than I would have liked to admit. I even forgot to put away some ice cream that I had bought myself to celebrate the new semester. I had to throw it out.
Then, someone reminded me that I deserve a nice space for myself to relax and enjoy, even if I was the only one there all semester. That really motivated me to finish decorating. I even went out and bought some new celebratory ice cream.
So for my first class of the semester, I sat at my kitchen counter still in my pajamas and saw a few familiar faces on my screen during class. But when I saw someone’s roommates walking behind them during our class, it made me realize that I was truly by myself in this apartment. I realized that I didn't even know the guy who was the only other living soul living other than myself living in the hallway. But don't worry, we’re friends now.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to have been able to snag a spot on campus. But this time, I felt like there had to be something going on around me that I was missing. Were people all meeting at the library to study? Were groups of students going to get food on campus and I didn’t have any friends? I mean, I just transferred to the College last semester and didn’t even have that much time to make new friends. My head would be spinning with feelings of missing out and not working hard enough this semester.
But as I walked to my car past a few students scattered here and there, I realized that I am not the only one living alone on campus and that I can’t be the only one looking for connections and a social circle. So, I’m prepared to continue to go to Eickhoff with my mask on, use only the front door of Barnes and Noble, and social distance in Mexican Mariachi. As far as Zoom classes go, they are a necessary evil in my book.
Self-care has become more and more important to me. I am sure to talk to at least one friend a day and call my mom at least once a week. I also take time to get outside, even if it’s just to go on a walk. I try to sit in a common space at least once a day or so to be able to at least see other humans. And I have to say that I have had one too many celebratory ice creams for the smallest tasks. Just remember to mask up, stay safe and see that other people are looking for connection too. You might just have to put yourself out there and go searching for them.