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While I knew the day would eventually come when I would compose my final blog post for Because Arcadia, I admittedly did not expect to be saying goodbye on such unique terms. As I am writing this, I am living in the same Arcadia apartment that has housed me through junior and senior year, yet the building is largely empty. From my porch, only a few windows across the courtyard are lit.
- Caitlin Joyce
Unlike many of my peers who returned home following the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s less safe for me to do so as I am immunocompromised and both of my parents are still working. Instead, I remain in my apartment with my girlfriend, watching signs of the semester’s activity slowly deplete from the building. The effects of the pandemic have undoubtedly defied what I and many other seniors expected our final semester of college to be. This is not at all how I imagined my story at Arcadia University would end. But even if the conclusion of my story is not the perfect fairytale ending I wanted, I’ve come to realize that it’s the chapters in between that give the story meaning.
Throughout all of the adventures I’d had, like traveling to China or exploring my soon-to-be favorite niches of Philadelphia, I’ve experienced immense personal growth. Since the snowy Scarlet and Grey Day when I first stepped foot on Arcadia’s campus, I haven’t just matured—I’ve healed. Leaving high school, my heart felt fragmented. I struggled with understanding my place in the world as a woman who was gay, chronically ill, and isolated. I carry myself differently now. Arcadia is the first place I fully came out about my relationship, and I was received with welcome arms. It is a place where I was able to share my feelings about having a disability, and was surrounded by compassionate understanding. The people who I had dinner with in the Dining Hall every day during my freshman year became my second family.
To be honest, I don’t want to say goodbye. Certainly the outbreak of COVID-19 is part of my reluctance to turn the page, because the future is blurrier than ever. But truthfully, I have been feeling this tentativeness to move forward since the beginning of spring semester, as it’s hard leaving the first place I ever truly felt like I could be myself. Despite these feelings, I know that the things that I’ll miss will always be here. People have been coming and going from Grey Towers Castle for the last century, and they’ll continue to do so for the next one. The third floor of Easton Hall will continue to overlook the water feature, and will always be a home for students and their plethora of coffee cups from Easton Cafe.
- Caitlin Joyce
The knowledge I’ve gained, the ways I’ve grown stronger, and the wonderful people who have entered my life are all things that I can take with me wherever the next chapter leads me. Now more than ever, it’s important for everyone to remind themselves that even if you can’t see it, the love that binds us to our treasured friends is always there. Moving on, changing places, and new life phases doesn’t always mean leaving others completely behind—if anything, I’ve learned during these past few months that people are only a quick Zoom chat away.
To my Arcadia Knights, from faculty, peers, and staff: You took my hand and led me on a journey filled with memories, which I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. But now, it’s time for me to let go and carry onward to a new adventure. No matter where the next story leads me, I’ll remember that I’m not alone.