By Allie Sokol|| Layout Assistant
As I drove out of my driveway in August, I gave my house one last look, unsure when I would see it next. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, there were two options ahead of me: I was either going to make the most of my junior year in an off-campus apartment with my friends, or the school was going to be shut down promptly and I would be back in my childhood room before I knew it. Either way, I was prepared with a handful of masks and several bottles of hand sanitizer.
Arriving on campus was exciting, yet strange with distant waves and covered faces, and a lack of comforting hugs and radiating smiles, however, students made the most of it. Quickly everything fell into place and the first module was underway. Both teachers and students worked together through every zoom crash, canvas fail, and misinterpreted syllabus. Tuesday nights felt like the new Friday, students were learning at an accelerated pace, and before we knew it, Module 1 finals schedule was sent out. Seven weeks had passed and F&M was stronger than ever in its fight against the virus.
As I now sit in my room on Facetime with my mom, I realize this is the longest time I have ever spent away from home and my family. I was never the child who attended sleep away camp, was dropped off at boarding school, or really liked to be away from home for an extended period of time. Without even trying last year, I saw my family every three weeks through a combination of school breaks or parent visits. Yet, despite being at F&M now for 10 weeks straight, I do not feel out of place. Yes, I have had the occasional feeling of homesickness, but it was not at all strong enough to make me want to rush home and cut the module short, and to me, this is a reflection of this fall.
Beyond strengthening friendships, this extra time on campus has given me a stronger appreciation for the Lancaster community. In an attempt to not let every day feel exactly the same, I have been able to explore more and introduce myself to hidden-gem restaurants, beautiful running paths, or tucked away nature hikes. I have also been able to push myself out of my comfort zone and engage in more events on campus. Participating in new clubs and signing up for different virtual events, I have been able to fill my free time with diverse experiences and broaden my daily schedule, more than I would have if I was going home more frequently.
I understand that not having a fall break for some people was a big deal, and to be honest I was nervous about it as well. Back in August, I couldn’t wrap my head around being at school for fifteen weeks straight. However, this fall has taught me that you truly get out what you put in for any experience.
So, if you ever feel homesick or ready to end the module, reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while, go get Mean Cup, check your emails and sign up for new events, or even just go lie outside on the lawn and take in Lancaster fall. Despite the long uninterrupted semester, we will all be home before we know it, wishing we were back on Hartman Green or enjoying days with our friends. Between every Groundhog Day movie joke my roommates and I make, I realize that if you make the most of this fall, it actually isn’t that bad.
Junior Allie Sokol is a Layout Assistant. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.