To say the least, my first week and a half of college has been eventful. Between the stress of moving in while classes started, finding my way around campus post-quarantine, and the excitement of meeting new people, the breadth of highs and lows have been pretty intense.
Let’s start with the good: even with the safety precautions set in place to social distance, it has been surprisingly comfortable to enjoy campus and connect with others. From striking up random conversations (masked up) outside Houston Hall or Tisch roof, late night talks with my cohort in our common room, and a spontaneous Saturday morning yoga session with floormates on the Rez Quad, these moments already feel like precious memories in the making.
Besides that, every spot on campus is just straight up beautiful: the trees on Prez Lawn are already starting to turn yellow and red, and studying on the hill with my Tufts-provided picnic blanket under the shimmering shadows of the changing leaves has got to be the most aggressively autumnal New England college experience out there. And the charm of campus extends from Medford to Boston; with all SMFA classes going virtual, art students are assigned private studios in newly converted shared spaces, and I am giddily anticipating painting in my studio as light floods in from the arched windows of the 230 Fenway classrooms.
At the same time, not every aspect of the college transition has been so picture perfect. Because of the spaced-out timing of students entering campus (as an in-region student, I moved in on the second day of classes), it was a rather surreal experience to unpack my belongings and say goodbye to my parents, all while trying to stay engaged during a Zoom discussion for my digital arts class. After my 24-hour quarantine upon my arrival, it was also a bit daunting to venture out in front of strangers to try and form meaningful connections.
Although everyone is eager to make new friends, it can get exhausting constantly putting yourself out there in order to go beyond surface level conversations. Adjusting to a new home and rigorous course load is overwhelming, and I’ve definitely already spent a late night trying to unpack a reading assignment while wondering if I’m equipped to handle it all.
Despite my self-doubt, knowing that there are so many communities at Tufts ready to support me is incredibly comforting. Grabbing lunch with my pre-orientation FOCUS group has been an activity that’s always grounding -- my FOCUS leaders Margaret and Jillian always know what to say when we’re feeling lost or anxious, and they’re a reminder of how people so different can still come together so closely at Tufts.
“I’m Jewish, queer, and from New York, so I basically know a third of campus,” Jillian likes to joke. I am none of those things, but it is still a pleasure to be in her company with Margaret and my fellow FOCUSers, and spending time listening to their sage advice is a reminder to take time to breathe and calm down for a bit. It’s important to remember how the nature of the situation is unique and to just take things day by day.
Although truly settling into university will take some time, it’s worth mentioning how grateful I am to be in a place where the only requirement is to try my best and learn. Of course the pandemic remains -- well, a pandemic, but the two weekly tests and daily health screenings definitely ease my worries of contracting COVID. While regular testing should be guaranteed to everyone in our country, in our current reality these rights are impossible to secure. Black and brown lives are disproportionately being risked every day as essential workers try to make ends meet during a pandemic, while dining hall staff and janitorial services work around the clock to make sure that we are in nourished, clean spaces. It’s not lost on me the privileges that we have as Tufts students to safely conduct on-campus living and hybrid learning environments, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity. I can’t wait to share with you everything that comes next!