Let’s be honest: this semester is not exactly what I thought my sophomore year of college would look like. I think that’s a sentiment we can all relate to. Pre-COVID, when I envisioned my sophomore year, I mainly expected the spontaneity that made the first 3/4ths of my first year so enjoyable: slipping into Dewick for a 3 PM sugar cookie and chatting fortuitously with a friend for hours, catching the sunset while walking downhill after a French recitation in Olin, taking tours into the Campus Center and shouting hello to a fellow Sarabande member (proving to the tour attendees that Tufts students do, in fact, have friends), getting nothing done on a Sunday evening in Tisch because the entirety of the residence hall has made the fishbowl the most social place on campus. The wonderful thing about college is, when your friends all live on the same campus, there’s so much freedom to throw plans out the window to prioritize a 7 PM trip to the Museum of Fine Arts or a salsa class on Tisch Roof.
This semester, due to the restrictions that the pandemic has forced upon us all, every part of my day is now scheduled out. My Google calendar includes such events as “COVID test” and “Tisch study table reservation,” and I’ve blocked out time to watch my asynchronous biology lectures. If I want to grab a meal with a friend, I have to reserve a time to go to the dining hall in advance. Although my type-A personality loves the look of a fully stocked, color-coded calendar, I do miss the impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decisions that would place homework to the side in favor of a Friday afternoon in Harvard Square or a J.P. Licks run at 9 PM.
So, like we’ve all had to do throughout this unprecedented year, I’ve adapted the avenues through which I find joy throughout my day, joy that was previously provided by the adrenaline of spontaneity. Impromptu runs to Dewick have been replaced by takeout picnics on Prez Lawn, some of which were scheduled over a week in advance. It’s nice to see people I love without a screen as an intermediary, even if they are wearing masks. Since I now spend the majority of my time in my dorm room, I’ve made it as comfortable and cozy as possible—it’s amazing what three strings of fairy lights and 26 plants (with names, personalities, and star signs) can do to brighten and widen up a 200 square foot space. Instead of studying in Tisch late into the night, I wake up two hours before my first class and start on my work then; there’s little more satisfying in this current world than going to bed at 11 PM on a Tuesday having finished all the homework due for the rest of the week. I’ve started a happiness jar as well—any time a bit of gold drifts into my day, I write it down and store it in an empty kombucha bottle on my windowsill. The next time that dark clouds wrap around me on a particularly pessimistic day, I’ll take the lid off and pour out everything that brought me joy throughout the past few weeks: the sound of the 4th floor RA’s violin drifting through my open window, the golden hour that bathes my west-facing dorm room in bronzed evening light, the serotonin rush of seeing my friends face-to-face for the first time in six months.
This semester will not be easy. It’s already harder than any semester I’ve experienced previously, both academically and mentally. There will be some days, weeks even, in which I’ll struggle to find anything positive in my day-to-day life. But I’ve adapted to and survived all other challenges in my (almost) two decades of life so far...I know that I’ll adapt to and survive this novel year as well.