During a “normal” academic year at USC, or a pre-COVID-19 year, it felt like I only went home to sleep. For most of the day I was in class or on-campus participating in extracurricular activities, studying at the library, or going to office hours.
Now, it’s my senior year of college and I spend most of my time at my apartment near campus. When I leave my apartment, things look a lot different around here! Or more so things look the same, but everything feels different. A big change are the large white tents stationed at the entrances to campus. These are COVID-19 checkpoints where you need to state that you do not have COVID symptoms and you have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive in the last 14 days. Then, you get a guest pass to enter campus. Weird, I know. It is really different from when you and 300 others rushed across the Village intersection at 11:56am for class at noon.
Things are just different now. I wouldn’t call campus a ghost town, but it doesn’t seem like campus either. Imagine campus but … quieter. Like the few weeks at the end of summer when people aren’t back to school yet but some people linger. There are people around, sometimes I see people I know when I walk to the Village. It just feels like soon there will be more people. Everyone will come back and then there will be Welcome Week and football game days and then fall break and midterms and people who you only see in class or at club meetings will be here too.
There are some changes I wouldn’t have anticipated. In the evenings, groups of friends find a spot on the Village lawn to get some sun. This happens every. single. day. It is really cool to see people outside enjoying our beautiful green spaces at USC. I have seen others in my Zoom classes calling in from different places in the outdoors. Some of my friends have taken the opportunity to spend more time at the beach or to pursue new hobbies like cooking.
Whether you have found a new hobby or you just want the old campus back, I feel you. If you are reading this from your hometown or near campus, hopefully we can all be back at USC the way it used to be really soon. And last but not least, if you see me in the Village lawn at sunset say hi.