By Sarah Nicell || Staff Writer
A couple of days after moving into my new home in Bonchek, I Facetimed one of my best friends from back home in Jersey, Rebecca. She was very curious to learn about how my college experience was going.
“How was the move-in? Is everything situated?”
“It was a workout,” I confessed. “I lugged suitcases up the stairs by myself and dropped my mini-fridge in the elevator.”
“Oh. Your family couldn’t help you?” she questioned, raising an eyebrow. Rebecca is attending Montclair University, a school that is a short train ride away from New York City and has somewhat looser coronavirus restrictions. It’s not the place I ever imagined for myself, but she loves it there and was able to make friends quickly through her suitemate.
“Corona,” I offered, which seems to be the universal explanation for everything at this point.
“Can I meet your roommate?”
In response, I panned to the sitting image of my stuffed goat that my girlfriend bought for me from CVS, who now resides in the empty desk chair in my dorm room. “Say hello to Gerald.”
“So… you’re all alone?” Her voice was drenched in pity. This observation was not necessarily true. Despite my mom, my dad, my twin, my sister, my pets, and my snow globe collection all being in another state, I had my own sense of normal within my jail cell of a dorm.
“That feels exclusionary to Gerald, the three browning bananas in my micro-fridge, my string lights held up with dry Scotch tape, and my one dollar zebra print pillows that I bought from Thrift Village that may or may not contain bed bugs. Say you’re sorry to the bed bugs.”
This conversation represented my early college experience quite well. With necessary virus restrictions preventing us from having the opportunity to offer more than a greeting to those that live just one room down, the reality of isolation quickly set in. All alone with my thoughts for a good week of quarantine, I had lots of time to ponder my circumstances.
And you know what? It’s not that bad. Who needs college when you have fruit snacks?
Who needs parties when you have a bed that requires some professional Mount Everest climbing training to get up into?
Who needs friends when you have bingo games with four people on Zoom where every single person’s microphone is turned off and the winner is promised merchandise you never technically receive?
Who needs dinners out with friends when you can have the luxury of walking only ten feet to quickly grab a cold personal pizza and flee back to your room to avoid disease?
Who needs in-person classes when you have patchy wifi, a mute button, and sleep deprivation?
Who needs any of it?
Despite the horrendous nature of it all, I have found myself surprisingly satisfied with these new circumstances. Yes, a sneeze is a modern equivalent to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theatre. Yes, orientation was less of a meet-and-greet and more of a binge-watch. Yes, the most socialization I get most days is an outdoor class where the lawnmowers and acorn-yielding squirrels are far louder than my professor. Yes, some days are hard.
Most days are hard.
However, we are working through this crazy time together, whether we can agree on the best route for our current situation or not. Before my arrival, I was not familiar with Canvas, had never lived without my family, and had no clue what a DipDeal was. I still don’t, really (can someone explain?), but I live in solace knowing that at least half of the student body buys at least five smoothies per week with them at Blue Line. I recommend the Maui one.
I have never been one for excessive optimism, but I think things are truly going to be okay. I’ve figured out how to properly do my laundry, I haven’t locked myself out of my dorm (yet), and I still have enough fruit snacks to fuel a kindergarten class.
So, the moral of the story is: if anyone is hungry, I have lots of snacks in Room 124. Like, an exorbitant amount of snacks. But only come if you are in Bonchek. Because of COVID.
God, maybe I do need college.
First-year Sarah Nicell is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.