Heading home for Spring Break this year, I did not think I would end up returning to an empty apartment. White, blank walls; our name tags ripped off our door; ‘fridge nearly empty (except for some miscellaneous condiments), and a parking lot with lots of empty spots. In April? At UWGB?
This was the reality for students choosing to return to campus following the coronavirus outbreak that ramped up right as students were heading out for Spring Break. Uncertain about the future, UWGB – like many schools – first told their students that classes would be held online for the week immediately after break. Then, as the situation worsened, campus fully shut down! Shortly after this unprecedented announcement, UWGB requested that any student able to return home would do so. Fortunately, students needing to stay on campus were allowed to.
I chose to stay for a variety of reasons, but the biggest factor was poor internet access at home – I live in the countryside which is not known for stellar internet speeds! It would not have worked with the many Skype, Zoom, Blackboard, and Canvas meetings I would now need to have to finish the semester strongly. If I wanted to see my instructors’ faces clearly and not just as a bunch of pixels, I needed to be on campus. It’s been a unique experience.
Unsurprisingly, my stay on campus has not been very exciting. All three of my roommates moved out, and, living in one of the private bedroom apartments, that left a lot of empty space to rattle around in. Thankfully, I’m familiar with quiet, country living, because it’s REALLY quiet around here. Also, all of the academic buildings are closed – understandably so – but as someone who has trouble doing homework at home, it’s been a bit of a challenge to stay on task at times. It’s a bit eerie walking around campus only to see a few people out, walking their dogs or sitting alone on benches, trying to get a little bit of fresh air. Also, they emptied out the vending machine in the laundry room – if I had known they were going to do that, I would have stockpiled some red Gatorades!
Thankfully, I have been able to watch all of the streams, videos, and meetings that my professors have set up in this confusing time. No buffering here! Also, I had a new roommate move in, and as luck would have it, she was someone I shared several mutual friends with! I’m glad to have someone to share a coffee with or take a walk. One of the biggest things that made me feel great about moving back to campus, though, is that UWGB is still doing everything possible for students who are still on campus. The Community Center is still open every day, so when my Target delivery (all items in the category “Replacements for Things My Roommates Accidentally Took”) arrives, I can go pick it up.
Dining Services and the Campus Cupboard are also working hard to provide food; you simply have to fill out a form online and they’ll safely drop off your meals at the CC. There are also numbers posted down the hall that I can call any time of day if I have an emergency or a problem.
Overall, I’m happy with my decision, even if the silence makes me miss simpler times (as in, February) when we could all safely live together. COVID may have cancelled nearly all my plans for the semester, but I’m determined not to let “good grades” be one of them!
We can finish this semester strong. Whether you are on campus or not, you can control how you react to these uncertain times. Keep going, Phoenix!
Story and photography by: Grace Merkt 64.8 | 9.1
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