Living on campus during this pandemic has been the weirdest experience of my life. When I first moved onto campus on Aug. 17, there seemed to be an eerie feeling around campus. It was almost creepy how much life changed in Storrs since March. One of the first things that caught my eye was the signage around campus encouraging students to wear masks and to practice social distancing.
This was unheard of prior to the pandemic, as students would constantly gather in large groups and be packed together in bars and buses. I also noticed that the Doug Bernstein Game Room in the Student Union was closed until further notice. This broke me, as the room once hosted gaming sessions for my friends and I, and it was a watering hole for students.
The strangest part of living on campus, however, hasn’t come from closed rooms or limited gatherings. Rather, it has come from how meals are served to residents. Instead of grabbing silverware and plates, food is now served in containers by kitchen staff and students are expected to put said containers into paper bags to be carried to-go. While inside seating was recently made available inside the dining halls, the experience feels watered down compared to last semester. Seating is spaced out, and capacity is limited to maintain social distancing.
What scares me the most about this new method of food service is the amount of waste that has been created. Trash cans have been flooded with food containers and bags all around campus, and as a result, yellowjackets have been swarming around the trash cans. While it may be safer for food to be stored in separate containers and taken to-go, the environmental impact of throwing away mass amounts of paper is an issue the university needs to think about going forward.
After the two week quarantine period ended, I was excited to go to the Recreation Center and work out for the first time in months. After I scanned my ID and got my temperature taken, I went to lift some weights and cheered inside as I was finally able to work out. It may have been odd to work out while wearing a mask, but at least I could keep my mind off of a global pandemic while running on the treadmill.
Living on campus feels like living in a different universe. Seeing the Student Union or classrooms packed with students is a sight that I miss. Despite not having as many students on campus compared to last semester, living on campus has changed the way I approach people. Instead of feeling lost in a sea of students, I have been able to meet new people easier, and I have been traveling to new areas on campus such as Horsebarn Hill.
I am not sure if life on campus will ever return to what it used to be prior to the pandemic. But whatever happens going forward, as long as I get to meet new people and can walk around campus safely, I feel that no matter what happens in the world, I will feel at home at UConn.