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Reflecting on Fall 2021

From the Culture Editor Who Spent Her First Year in Pseudo-Quarantine

By Viktoria Popovska

As I'm writing this, millions of people across the country are sitting around dining room tables with family members they might not have seen in months and having the fights they've been waiting the entire pandemic to have. A semblance of normal is back, and it's a relief.

The Covid-19 pandemic has and will continue to shape my young adult life because I was one of those unlucky few who ended their senior year of high school in quarantine and began their first year of college basically in the same way. But I was lucky enough to go to a school that took Covid precautions seriously enough to be open during the entire 2020-2021 school year.

And sure, being on campus was much better than having to spend the year doing online classes at home; I still missed out on way too much. A lack of in-person classes and an inability to really hang out with people outside your dorm building and even floor made it extremely difficult to meet a varied group of friends.

Listen, I came into college looking for a fresh start and excited to make friends, and I definitely did, but the pool was smaller, and the ability to really get to know those people was limited. BU's Covid rules heavily impacted social life, but it didn't just end there.

Yes, I was on campus, but most of my classes were still online, and basically, none of my clubs could meet in person. I spent a whole year working with people in different clubs and class projects without actually meeting them or having any "real" experiences.

Now, I'm in my sophomore year, vaccinated, and finally, feel like I'm in college. BU fully re-opened for the Fall 2021 semester, but not without a few remaining restrictions.

Unlike the two times a week testing mandate during the last year, it halved to one this semester, and I'm not opposed to it. Despite having a high vaccination rate among the BU population, the reassurance of having everyone tested makes me feel better about our chances of never returning to BU's “Learn from Anywhere” format from last year.

Although we still wear masks in classes, we don't have to social distance, which means actually being able to interact with our professors and peers. If I'm being honest, it was definitely intimidating at first. Not only did it feel weird that we could all be in a classroom together, but I was never really able to experience that first-year college anxiety properly.

I remember this one moment in particular—I was walking back home from getting tested at 808 when I was overwhelmed by a feeling, one I'm sure I should have felt in September of 2020. It was the feeling of being a part of a living, breathing environment filled with thousands of college students just trying to make it through the week like I was.

It was the feeling of finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It was what normal feels like.

The pandemic isn't over. Cases are rising, and people across the country are still losing their lives to this virus. We have to continue taking precautions and getting vaccinated, or that split second of normalcy we've all been feeling will disappear again.

Has my college experience been perfect? No. But does it make for an interesting enough story for an article? That's on the readers to decide.

I'm just here to share and reflect, and I am so appreciative of having been able to experience an almost typical college semester. What the spring has to hold is still a mystery, but I'm more excited than anxious, and I think that's an excellent place to be for now.

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