As I think about my experience in the dorms this past year, it seems like a lot all at once, but looking back, “a lot all at once” is exactly how I would describe living in the dorms through the pandemic. I remember feeling extremely sad that I had to leave early, I was upset that this was happening, and I was unsure of what was next.
These feelings were just the tip of the iceberg when CSU announced that, due to COVID-19, the dorms would be closing down after Spring Break. It was difficult to process; I was in the second semester of my freshman year and had made a lot of friends and was feeling settled into my new routine and life in college. I also was just hired as a Resident Assistant (RA) for the upcoming year. I had no idea what the university planned to do when students were supposed to come back from summer break, but I knew I needed to come back to campus if I wanted the college experience I signed up for. So, I began to anxiously wait.
In July, CSU housing released a rough plan to the future resident assistants. They explained how rules were still not finalized, but the main point was that they were trying their hardest to make the upcoming semester as normal as they could for students hoping to live on campus. We knew we’d be back, but we still weren’t sure how exactly that would look.
When classes began in August, I started my job as an RA, and CSU Housing and Dining briefed us on what the new COVID-19-related rules were. They included limiting in-person gatherings in the halls, dining and recreation center reservations, room occupancy limits, COVID testing, and more.
At first, it seemed very overwhelming as both an RA and as a student. It felt almost as if I were on lockdown in my own room. Most of my classes were online, there weren’t any in-person campus events, and I rarely saw my friends. It also struck me that not only did I have to follow the rules, but as an RA, I had to enforce them. I knew my residents were frustrated with their college experience starting out like this, so I reminded them that we were in this together and these rules were put in place to keep us all safe.
As the semester went on, this “new normal” was really beginning to feel, well, normal. In-person “grab-and-go” events slowly began where you could pick up succulents or face masks and my friend group began utilizing the intramural fields to hang out with each other by playing Ultimate Frisbee or picnicking. But despite the adjustments we’d been making, the normal social connections made through living in a dorm were harder to create and maintain. We knew, though, that as long as we continued to make an effort to see each other, it would make our current situation seem a lot easier.
However, as classes went on, I became busy with school and work, and, hid in my room. It all contributed to my feelings of burn out, anxiety, and frustration. I had to remind myself that next semester would be better and that my friends, along with CSU’s counseling services, were there when I needed them. I also realized that getting dinner with friends or taking a walk around campus really improved my mood and helped with Zoom fatigue. These little actions helped get me back into the groove of normalcy. I made sure to remind my residents about this, too, since this was entirely uncharted territory for all of us.
I am extremely hopeful for upcoming semesters. I truly believe that CSU has been going above and beyond in implementing COVID-19 guidelines to ensure that students are able to have an in-person and on-campus college experience in the future.
It’s important to remember that you’re not going through this alone. I know I had to remind myself of that several times. CSU has various resources to help students with mental health, so remember that there is no shame in utilizing them. I am optimistic that good things are soon to come; especially given how much we have all struggled this past semester … specifically those living in the dorms.
Cavan McCabe is a sophomore at CSU from Lawrence, Kansas. She is double majoring in Natural Resource Tourism and Business Marketing and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is an Admissions Ambassador and a Resident Assistant in the dorms, and is a part of the CSU Honors Program. She enjoys hiking, going on adventures with friends, singing along to 80’s hits in the car, and spending time with her cat, Bertha, and her chocolate lab, Finnigan.