This semester is undoubtedly already quite different than any semester Holy Cross has seen before. Almost all classes are online, social contact is limited, and students are still getting used to the new restrictions in place due to COVID-19. With a quick glance at the student handbook for 2021, one may have thought that students would be hesitant to return to campus because of various regulations; however, Holy Cross has welcomed back nearly ⅔ of the student body for the spring of 2021. The desire for community building on the hill remains high even during this challenging year, and I believe that many students are definitely trying their hardest to make the most of their socially-distanced time on campus.
In an effort to gain insight into the new student experience, I turned to my roommate, Rose Kaczmarek ‘23, for feedback on several aspects of our current situation. Rose is a Classics major, Bean Scholar, an extremely dedicated student, and one of my most beloved friends. We hope that Rose’s experience thus far will be eye-opening for those in need of advice to navigate this odd semester on the hill.
Stacey: What are the biggest changes that you have experienced in terms of living in a dorm this year?
Rose: Last year I used to be able to go into other people’s rooms or dorms to chat or hang out on weekends – it’s not possible to do that anymore (depending on the alert level). Now, when I want to see my friends, I go on walks around campus with them, so we get to hang out in a safe way. I still wish I could have brought my cat Sebastian.
Stacey: How easy is it to access dining on campus? Do you have any advice that would make dining for students easier?
Rose: Honestly, the biggest challenge is walking all the way down to Kimball! If you’re not up for the trek, Cool Beans, the Science Café, and Croads are open – just remember to order on Grubhub first!
Stacey: How would you describe social life on campus? What are the most noticeable differences from last year?
Rose: My social life currently consists of lots of walks with friends, along with movie and takeout nights on Zoom. Last year was pretty much the same – except we used to watch movies and eat takeout from Shrewsbury Street in person. I also used to go out into Worcester, but with COVID cases still rising I’m uncomfortable doing that. Even though all my friends and I are getting busy, we still make sure to make time for each other.
Stacey: What can be done, if anything, to improve academics in this time of almost exclusive online learning?
Rose: I will be the first to admit it is hard to learn and stay focused in an online environment. Just know that professors are doing the best they can under these circumstances. With that said, learning may still be a struggle, and that’s okay. The best thing to improve in terms of your academics here is to advocate for yourself. If you are struggling in a class, schedule an appointment with a professor and ask for advice. They will be happy to help! Don’t forget that Holy Cross is a tough school and that you deserve to be here.
If anyone is nervous about the semester ahead, don’t be. We all have much to juggle– staying on top of rigorous academics, maintaining our friendships (and forming new ones), and being COVID compliant. However, as long as we all do our part to keep campus safe this semester, spring 2021 will be the best time on the hill yet.