BY SHELBY PAULGAARD / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
As a fourth year student, I have found it so interesting–and sad–to look back at the past few years at Augustana and see how much has changed. Everyone who entered university in the last four years will have some sort of crazy story about how their schooling was impacted by Covid-19 to share one day, when it isn’t so fresh in our minds. Some of us started and will (hopefully!) end our degrees completely normally, but we lost a lot of ground in those middle years. Some of us started online, or took a year off to try and avoid it. Some of us switched from online to in person what felt like 50 times over the course of four years. As much as life feels ‘back to normal’ now, I think we are all still feeling the reverberations of the past few years.
With an increasing number of people getting sick on campus, with Covid or just the flu, I’m being taken back to the past two fall and winter seasons, when numbers shot up and we slunk back into lockdown. Thinking about it now makes me nervous. As much as I want to believe that we may finally be ‘back to normal,’ I’m having a hard time accepting it.
The burnout at this part of the semester is always bad, so maybe I am just overwhelmed by the work piling up as usual. But I think this year is different. After so much back and forth from real classrooms to breakout rooms, I don’t trust that we can make it a full academic year without our classes being yanked and our homework becoming a 24/7 condition. The stress of a normal academic and working schedule feels even more tiresome when you add the constant worry that your last year for any of it could be taken away at any time. Not to mention also finding time to apply to after-degrees, graduate schools, jobs for after school, and scholarships.
Despite all of this, it is hard to not appreciate the little joys of being on campus again: the sound of laughter filling the forum, squeezing a chair into a packed table at the library to study with friends, grabbing a coffee and a sandwich at Monica’s as a reward for writing a midterm (or for making it to your 8:30am class). All of these little things I never thought I’d miss remind me to be grateful for what we do have now, and to make the most of whatever it is we have to look forward to. I think we will all be struggling from the effects of the pandemic for a long, long time, but we might as well make the most of the bits of joy we get to have during these difficult few years.
Since Covid has been tamed enough to allow us to leave our houses again, I have been trying to say yes as much as I can. Yes, I will take a weekend trip to the mountains even when I should be studying. Yes, I will go out to dinner with friends, even if I have an assignment due at midnight. Yes, I will agree to edit the student newspaper, even though I constantly complain about being too busy. After all, who knows where we will all end up when we’re done at Augustana? These few years are the only years we get where we will all be in the same place at the same time. And if a pandemic is going to take it all away again, I don’t want to say I spent that fraction of time when we weren’t required to social distance, well, social distancing. As much as I’d like to dwell on the worry of how the rest of this year will turn out for us, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that regardless, I only have one year left. I could spend it worrying, or I could spend it saying yes for as long as I can. I hope this year can be full of all of the ‘Yes’ we’ve been missing out on for far too long.