It would be an understatement to say that this past year was a hard one. But, it taught me so much. 2020 was a year of looking inward, facing fears, and most importantly, it was a year of clinging to hope. As I look back on last year, I’m choosing to focus on the positives. Even though campus life was not the same as it was my first year, just being able to be on campus was a huge plus. Out of all of the restrictions that coronavirus brought to campus life, there have also been some silver linings.
1. Online Ordering
This past semester, RIT has implemented online ordering for major restaurants and dining facilities on campus to cut down on long food lines. It makes me wonder why they hadn’t implemented it before! Not only is it safer than waiting in line or dining inside, but it’s also awesome for a homebody like me who’d rather eat in the comfort of my own apartment. Last semester, every morning after my 9 AM, I’d order a chai latte and a bagel online from Midnight Oil so that by the time I got there, I could just pick up my breakfast and be on my way. There’s even the option to order and pay for your food.
2. Outdoor Dining Tents
Rochester is very cold. Like, colder than you’d think. In previous years, I didn’t enjoy the outdoors as much as I wanted to. It was always freezing in the winter, which was fine then, but now that many indoor spaces have reduced capacity and I’m spending more in my room on my computer, I’m trying to force myself to go outside more. As of Fall 2020, RIT has set up heated tents around campus for students to enjoy, and let me tell you, they’re amazing! I’ve relied on the tent in Global Village so much for socializing last semester that it’s become my favorite spot. There’s wifi and charging outlets, it’s warm, and the sides are clear so you have a stunning view of Global Village and all of the fairy lights. I can’t wait to eat dinner there while it's snowing this semester!
3. New Spaces that Have Become Hubs
With many popular restaurants on campus having reduced seating this academic year, new places on campus have become hubs for doing work and hanging out with friends. My favorite spot that I discovered this year is the MOSAIC room in the Student Alumni Union (SAU). It has plenty of seats and outlets to accommodate students doing work and a big monitor for presentations or watching shows. You can also reserve the space for club meetings or social gatherings. Last semester, I knew a group of people who would reserve the space in the evenings to watch The Bachelorette and NBA games.
Another new thing that I love is the use of outdoor spaces. The College Activities Board (CAB) hosts many of their events outside now to accommodate more students safely. M lot and the field next to it have become a busy spot on Friday nights and weekends. M lot is where the food trucks park on Friday nights and weekends and CAB hosts performances, movie nights, and other events on the field.
4. The Flexibility of Zoom
Having classes on Zoom has been great for me. Not having to walk to certain classes frees up time during my day and allows me to avoid the cold weather. Keep in mind, though, having classes on zoom doesn’t mean you can take a class while making breakfast in your PJs. Some professors will require you to keep your camera on and look presentable. I always get ready for class, even if it’s on zoom and I don't have to have my camera on. It’s kind of a cue to tell your mind that you still have to be present. Last semester, there was a day when I wasn't going to be able to make it to my 9 AM class in person and I was able to email my teacher and ask if I could join on zoom. This is a huge plus for me because I hate missing class. I don’t like having to catch up on work. Always ask your professor beforehand, though!
5. A Longer Break
The more extended break has pros and cons, and I don't think this will still be in affect once the virus no longer poses a threat. This academic year our semesters are shorter and more condensed to reduce the amount of time students are on campus and avoid the flu season. So our winter break has been about two months long! After an intense semester, I was so happy to spend two months at home with my family. It allowed me to work on personal projects like perfecting my resume and creating a professional website for myself. I imagine it’s also great for students to get a short internship or co-op in between semesters.
Thanks for reading to the end! Hopefully, by the time you get to campus, you can still experience some of these things too!