What is it like being on a university campus during a pandemic?

How COVID is affecting the typical college experience for many students

Current issuesFriends and relationshipsMental health and wellbeing
By VoiceBox ·
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Malena

Malena is a senior at the University of South Carolina studying Exercise Science and minoring in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior. After graduation, she has plans to sell medical devices, and she is super excited to share her love within the realms of cardiovascular products to the medical world. She is a big advocate of eating raw cookie dough, and she loves being active.

COVID College

When the pandemic began, I honestly did not think it would last until 2021.

Sure, mask wearing and social distancing were introduced this past summer – and it was hard to get together with people when COVID was on everyone’s minds. I didn’t go to many restaurants or bars as they were closed or only open to limited customers. And my 21st birthday did not go as expected...

But I kept pretty busy and didn’t limit myself to activities inside the house. I found myself constantly outside, playing pickle ball or soccer, riding bikes, or exercising. It felt like everything with COVID was getting under control. That is, until I came to college.

Senior year and COVID. Two things that should not – and do not – go together. Transitioning to online classes has been very difficult for many students. Although there are resources to help with studying, writing, mental health, and time management, COVID has really damaged all that campus life has to offer.

Walking around campus, I see fewer students, activities, and interactions between people – and no Hip Hop Wednesdays. The campus life has dwindled, and the student union (Russell House) isn’t bustling like it was before. This pandemic is serious and brings forth many challenges – but limiting our college years like this is rough.

We get tested monthly on campus – so I have to deal with the second-hand effects of quarantining. My roommate tested positive a few days after experiencing symptoms over the weekend. We stashed our Clorox wipes, gloves, thermometer, and Lysol in the corner of the living room – right on the mantle for her to utilize when she came out of her room.

She wore a mask every time she walked throughout the house, and we sanitized literally everything she touched. It was almost like she was a pet that was let out three times a day, or a kid in timeout. I felt bad for her, because she was isolated from us and had to sit in her room all day long. After a while, she reached breaking point. She wanted to get out of the house, do normal things, and be free again.

I stayed home for at least 10 days, quarantining and laying low. I was going bonkers in the house – but at least I didn’t have to live life in her shoes. That would’ve been rough. I was able to exercise outside and get some fresh air. My roommates and I got tested, and all came back negative. Thankfully, we were not experiencing any symptoms – but it was scary to know that we were living in a house with someone who was COVID positive.

COVID is inevitable. It picks and chooses who it wants to take down for a few days, and it goes after them. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t socially distance or wear masks – but I am speaking on the impact it has had on college life and college students. Our precious four years seem to have come up short, thanks to COVID. I wish I was able to reverse time – but like COVID, the passing of time is inevitable.

Stay safe out there!

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