Life

Surviving a College Semester (Pandemic Edition)

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So much has changed with the rise of COVID-19. Everyday life is so different with all the social distancing, masks, and quarantine. Being a college student during a pandemic is…interesting.

As a student at Grove City College (GCC), I had the privilege of attending in-person classes and living on campus this semester. While many other colleges were resorting to Zoom, GCC decided to be stubborn and bring everyone back.

Even though we were all on campus, nothing was normal. From the beginning, it was established that we had to wear masks basically everywhere, even outside.

Anyone who visited my room had to wear a mask, but I didn’t have to wear a mask in my room even if someone was visiting. That doesn’t really make sense, but I guess they were trying to be lenient in some ways so people would be more obedient.

Some teachers said it was okay to eat or drink in their classroom, taking off masks temporarily to do so, other teachers forbade it. I sat as far away from everyone as possible in all of my classes, so I would eat a snack occasionally in the classes that permitted it.

The food at GCC has never been good. In fact, there are Instagram channels devoted entirely to showing pictures of terrible food served at GCC.

Although it was possible to dine in the cafeterias for most of the semester, all the food was made take-out style, in plastic or foam containers. These containers leaked and occasionally burst.

The portions of food given were determined by the staff.

For instance, I would say, “Can I have a few vegetables?”

The food worker would then give me a generous scoop of them. And then another. And then a third. It’s like they were so happy someone asked for a healthy food that they got a little overexcited.

The biggest consequence to there being all take-out was that there was so much garbage that the college resorted to dumpsters instead of trash cans. My roommate and I had a trash can in our room, and we had to take out our garbage every day because of the clunky, oversized take-out containers.

It’s sad, really. At some point the cafeterias stopped offering straws the same way they once did to reduce waste. It was laughable–students were throwing away hundreds of plastic containers per day, but at least straws were not part of the problem.

The cafeterias were also open almost the entire day to encourage smaller crowds. This meant they had less time for food prep, so they would copy a lot of the meals from day to day.

On some occasions, they would get creative, however. See that picture below? That’s Pumpkin Cheesecake pizza. Looks appealing, no?

If you go to GCC, don’t taste Pumpkin Cheesecake Pizza. If you avoid it, your taste buds will thank you.

It was actually kind of nice that they cleaned the tables after each use, though.

Events were cancelled the whole semester, and the gym was closed at different times.

I remember those first few weeks when there were a few COVID cases and many students, including myself, thought we would be sent home. Every week there were a few more.

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Students were frequently put in isolation. That meant they could only leave their room for food and had to take classes virtually until they were told they could leave isolation.

At one point, my class of 20 diminished to 5 because so many students were in isolation.

Quarantine was much worse. Then you couldn’t leave your room and just had food delivered. Some of the quarantined students had to be put in hotel rooms because the quarantine rooms at college filled up.

Students who were quarantined had to make lists of people they were in contact with for even a short duration of time. Those people were put in isolation. This was called contact tracing.

Near the end, the cases skyrocketed. We began to have about 20 cases every three days. The students were given an option to go home before Thanksgiving break, and I was one of those who did so.

My sister stayed as long as she could, but that was only until Thanksgiving break. No one came back after break. As planned, we all stayed home for the last week of classes and finals.

So, that was how my semester went. I was lucky enough never to go into isolation or quarantine. I was so happy to be on campus, and I hope I will be headed back to school in the spring.

Feel free to share your own quarantine experience in the comments!

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