As we start off this semester in the midst of winter, which many scientists predict will bring the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, we must ask ourselves a uniquely 2020-2021 question: how can we delay the onset of cabin fever during a global pandemic?
Throughout the College of William and Mary’s fall semester, my friends and I often found ourselves struggling to escape the patterned nature of a semester under COVID-19 health and safety rules. Although we understood that the rules existed for valid public health reasons, we often found it challenging to, well, have fun. Our options were limited: walk to Wawa, watch a movie or tv show, hang out on the “Sunky Gs,” go kayaking, do yoga, and not much else. By the end of the semester, I was excited to go home — partly to see my family, but mostly because I was bored with the routine. Now, as the cold weather closes in on us, the options seem even more sparse. Many of the appealing outdoor activities that enticed us in September and October were no longer feasible — or at the very least, not very enjoyable.
As I drafted this article, I planned to offer some reasonable suggestions for activities outside the “Zoomiverse.” But the truth is, there really is not much to do on campus that is COVID-19 safe during the winter. With more days stuck inside, we will experience cabin fever this spring. It’s inevitable.
But what we can do is find the balance between appreciating the fact that we get to be on campus at all and mourning missing out on a typical college experience.
As a freshman, I was deeply saddened by the loss of the end of my senior year of high school, followed by the dullness of my first semester of college. I know I was far from the only person feeling this way. Many College students struggled to adjust to campus life in Williamsburg last fall, trying to find friends and community in the grim backdrop of a global pandemic.
But despite the hardship of losing some of the fun of youth, there always will be bright pockets among all the darkness. Life is full of beautiful contradictions. This year has been in many ways one of the worst, but some wonderful things happened too.
Last fall, I danced around my dorm room to Shakira with my roommate, I kayaked in the rain, I hosted tea parties in my hall lounge, I discovered the epic tv show that is “Money Heist” and I had some quality deep talks with friends.
This second semester will have more of those moments, even though some of the time will be truly boring. COVID-19 dealt us a tough hand, but it is still up to us how we look at the situation. We can focus on the negatives or instead look forward to the truly positive experiences we have yet to enjoy.
We can brave the cold some of the time to go to Wawa, we can make hot chocolate and watch television, we can have those deep talks with our friends and we can have mini dance parties to music.
It might not be the most exciting winter months of our college years, but we don’t have to waste the opportunity to enjoy the smaller moments.
At the end of the day, those moments are equally as meaningful to the college experience. And with many of us only in Williamsburg for four years, time here is priceless, making it all the more important for us to get whatever we can out of it.
Caitlin Noe ‘24 is a government and psychology double major. She is also a member of Amnesty International and Film Society, and plans to participate in the DC Summer Institute American Politics program this summer. Email Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.