This past week at the University of Georgia has been unlike anything I’ve ever expected. I never thought I’d be ordering meals via GrubHub or wearing masks in the lounge or rushing sororities online with plenty of technical difficulties. Honestly, I never expected to rush at all, but in a time of social uncertainty, it’s a relief to know I will have my sisters by my side. I live under the assumption my time here is limited and because of that, I push myself to meet people wherever I am, in the community bathrooms at Crusty Creswell or in line at Bolton waiting for food. In high school back in Suwanee, I liked to have my fashion reflect my values and personality, and particularly now, in a time where first impressions are everything, I’ve carefully selected my bags, stickers, and clothes to act as conversation-starters. I’m happy to say I’ve met many a person that way.
While several of my classes are completely online, I do have a few hybrid courses where students are split into three groups and rotate as to who meets in-person versus who attends on Zoom. Because of the lack of proximity and opportunities to meet our classmates, my small group started a groupchat the very first day we met, something rather unusual when you have all semester to make a connection.
Coming from a large high school with over 800 kids in my graduating class, I was nervous about going to an in-state school and branching out beyond my town’s “bubble” as we affectionately called it. What I didn’t fully comprehend, however, is the sheer size of UGA and how many incredible people serve to make up its single statistic of 38,652 students. More than that it’s amazing to see old friends in a new light. I find I’ve come to appreciate everyone’s nuances a little more; people act differently depending on the situation they’re in and I’ve found that COVID-19 has fostered a sense of community unlike anything I’ve had before, the idea that we’re all in this together against a common enemy.
That being said, I think it’s important to note that along with the general camaraderie comes self-doubt: Am I doing the right thing, the safe thing? Every action I make is exhausting as I weigh the pro’s and con’s, especially as someone whose happy place is with other people.
But then again, college is all about finding your niche and where you belong. To me, COVID has just sped up that process. I’ve found -and continue to find- little groups of people around campus who I’m lucky enough to call my friends and whether we go home after Thanksgiving or next week, I know they’ll be right there with me. After all, isn’t that what college is all about?