Back to School: Reaching for Success During COVID
While COVID-19 seems to be the dooming center of attention lately, if we do not continue to address how we can positively endure this time then it is easy to fall victim to feeling stuck, unproductive, or alone. In March, no one expected that we were going home for spring break and leaving the spring semester behind us, but ever since we have been counting down the days until we could return to Blacksburg. Although college life is very different this fall, many are excited to be getting back into a routine. Given the taste of online classes in the spring, we had some sort of expectation for how this semester would look and were able to prepare, nevertheless, it's been a hard adjustment for college students nationwide. Creating and maintaining connections with students, professors, and organizations are a lot different than past years due to most activities and classes converting to an online format, but we are all learning to adjust together.
On the upside, Virginia Tech has implemented many new protocols in order to keep students safe and keep the campus open. The university has altered spaces around campus in order to minimize exposure potential for community members, including creating socially distanced space indoors, adjusting traffic patterns of indoor areas, providing more outdoor study spaces, as well as an increase in hand sanitizer stations! Additionally, Virginia Tech has made COVID-19 testing readily available to all students at the Schiffert Health Center, an incredibly important way for Hokies to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. ”Ut Prosim” has taken on a new meaning this semester, and it is imperative that each and every hokie does their part to keep the community safe this fall.
With that being said, the most difficult aspect of returning to college for many has been feeling disconnected. Not walking to and from classes on campus, missing out on face-to-face connections in class and extracurricular activities are among the hardest things to let go of as we returned to Blacksburg. Many students feel as if they’re stuck in their rooms all day doing work or logging on to Zoom classes, but it is incredibly important to take mental breaks. This shift from normalcy has been very taxing on the mental health of college-aged students. It is important for every student to know that it is okay to not feel okay, especially during these unprecedented times. Some ways to take care of yourself is to make sure you keep up a normal, healthy sleep schedule, maintain daily routines, and take time for yourself. Taking mental breaks throughout the day will help in adjusting to this new normal. Going for a walk to get out of your room, face-timing a friend to catch up, or taking on old or new hobbies are all great ways to clear your mind and decompress.
Staying connected with friends and family has been difficult due to social distancing practices, especially as we returned to campus and may not have been able to reconnect with people the same way we could if there were in-person activities such as football games and extracurriculars. Nevertheless, there are many great ways to stay in touch with friends around Blacksburg while adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. A socially distanced picnic on the drill field is something I’ve been hoping to do; it's a great way to reconnect with friends on the campus while staying safe and breathing in some fresh air.
There are also a number of incredible outdoor activities around Blacksburg such as hiking, apple picking, and tubing the new river! Some popular hiking spots include Cascades, Bald Knob, Dragon's Tooth, and McAfee Knob! Other fall activities are apple picking at Doe Creek Farm or checking out the pumpkin patch at Sinkland Farms. Another great way to connect with the community is by supporting local Blacksburg businesses. A popular spot on Saturday mornings from 8 am to 2 pm and Wednesday afternoons from 2 pm to 6 pm, is the Blacksburg Farmers Market, where you can experience many local businesses all in one spot. They have vendors selling fruits, veggies, coffee, baked goods, sandwiches, flowers, handmade crafts and so much more to check out!