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Recently, it has been hard to find anything in our lives that has not been affected by COVID-19, or any topic of discussion that is not centered on it. The news that next semester is going to remain mostly online may dishearten or frustrate some students, who desperately want to return to campus.
I know it gets tiresome hearing everyone telling you to look on the bright side. Let’s be real about it: COVID has had some negative consequences for all of us, whether you or a loved one has gotten sick, or you have been barred from going out and seeing friends. You can try to spin it and say quarantine allowed you more time with your family and yourself, but having our lives disrupted, especially during college when we are supposed to be experiencing new things, is not anything most of us would have asked for.
- Madi Costigan
Although opportunities look different this year, Arcadia students and staff have come up with innovative ideas to provide the best experiences for everyone. For the first-year Common Read, we were able to have a virtual Q&A with the author of How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi, which engaged students and allowed us to personally connect with the book and issue. The Honors program has been hosting Zoom meetings every week to encourage students to get to know each other and build the Honors community from home. Arcadia has continually engaged students with trivia nights, workshops, and meetings for students with common interests to supplement our virtual college life.
Some courses that have had to adapt to online learning have made the best of the situation. My first-year seminar, Parks and Rec: Leadership and the Power of the Local, has been one of my favorite classes in this virtual environment. My professor is Lindsay McGann, and she has made the class feel personal and engaging through a screen, including fun activities to do with classmates, and even a waffle party after we completed our first paper.
Many first-year students are still participating in Preview 2021, but instead of studying abroad they will be offered virtual experiences that will still provide students with the opportunity to learn about the world in a new context. A diverse number of courses are taking place from eight locations around the world, where students can learn about how the cultures of those countries intersect with the course material, such as globalization, art, and the environment.
- Madi Costigan
I’m not going to pretend like virtual Preview can compare to the real experience of studying in another country and living there for a week. But this year we have had to take the best we can get, and the new structure of Preview is still a way to become educated about the world and prepare for any other study abroad opportunity you may embark on in your future at Arcadia.
With campus starting to open up for the spring semester, with a percentage of students being able to live on campus and facilities like the Kuch Center opening up for athletes, the return to normalcy at Arcadia looks promising. I hope that students do not feel like they missed out on too much throughout 2020, even though our college time was so different. I think we will all have an extra appreciation for campus life when we return, because we now know what we missed, or for me and other first-year students, what we have yet to experience.
And I know the experience will be extremely special because of the people that will surround me at my new home, whenever I arrive.