Today, I turned in my last finals week assignment for the Fall 2020 semester, and I am officially on winter break. To be very honest, I am relieved and excited to be moving into a period of rest and calm after such a strange semester. It’s no secret that college, like many other aspects of life, was strongly impacted by the pandemic, but I am very grateful to have even been able to have a fall semester. As I look back and reflect on this semester, I realize that although there were a lot of challenges, there is also a whole lot to be thankful for.
First of all, I am incredibly grateful that Tufts students were able to live on campus, as I have friends from other colleges who had to take all their classes remotely. I was given the opportunity to live in an apartment-style dorm with some of my friends, and got to be roommates with one of my very best friends at Tufts. I did have three online classes, but I was also very lucky to have two in-person classes, where I got to see and connect with other students and my professors face-to-face.
In addition, Tufts did such an amazing job with testing all of us frequently, and our infection rates stayed very low throughout the entire semester. This is no accident, though, but rather a testament to the respectful, caring students and members of the Tufts community. I’ve always been proud to be a Jumbo, but my pride soared this semester because my friends and peers took great measures to stay safe and to keep others safe. We at Tufts look out for each other, whether it’s during a regular semester or in the middle of a pandemic, in these uncertain times. There were definitely moments this semester where I was frustrated with how different everything felt than before: no dining halls to sit in with friends, no visiting other dorms, no hugging my friends, no whispering to a classmate in the seat next to me, etc. Yet, through it all, I knew there was a supportive and caring community feeling these same things along with me, and that we were all there to lend a listening ear or helping hand (maybe over Zoom or FaceTime this time).
Also, even though online learning is hard—and I cannot pretend it isn’t different than in-person learning—I really have to applaud my professors for putting in so much effort to make it work. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stress and frustration of online learning, but when you take a step back, it’s pretty incredible that we are able to still learn and communicate despite all the challenges of the moment. It’s also really difficult to deal with school being a challenge while life itself is challenging, but it’s comforting to know that professors know that… and they really do care. One of my professors this semester (shout-out to Professor Heather Urry from the psychology department) really reminded me why I love Tufts faculty so much. Professors’ goals are so much more than making class difficult (even though it can feel like that sometimes; trust me, I know), and they really deeply care about their students taking knowledge away from class. So, despite one of the weirdest academic experiences this semester, I have to say that I could still feel that support and encouragement from the faculty that I feel is always present at Tufts.
A friend recently reminded me that I once described the Tufts community as “a different breed of nice.” I’d forgotten about saying that, but those words still absolutely ring true for me. I am exhausted, still a little bit stressed, and absolutely over and done with this semester… but I still love and am thankful for all the incredible Tufts people who helped me find the motivation to keep moving and try my very best this semester. We’ve helped and uplifted each other, and now we’ve finally reached a well-deserved break. I don’t know what the next semester holds, and I truthfully don’t even know if I’m really prepared for it, but what I do know is that I am more thankful than ever to be at Tufts.
P.S. Welcome to our new Baby ‘Bos from ED1!! We are so excited for you to join us, and I personally cannot wait for you to experience the Jumbo pride and joy that I treasure so deeply.