I love doing semesterly recaps:

be that through a witty end of semester Instagram post captioned with a pun that makes every one of my followers groan, by means of a blog post (like this one!), or in the context of an intense night of journaling. But I’ve never before had to try to reflect on a semester that was effectively cut short half way through.

Granted, classes are only online, not canceled. But college is about so much more than just class; it is about group projects and club e-board meetings, it is about professors’ office hours and lying on the grass on McCarthy Quad, it is about spending hours at a time soaking in the sunshine on campus, and above all, it is about being lucky enough to see your best friends every single day. So while classes still exist, a lot of those experiences are no longer occurring in the same way. That being said, I feel lucky enough to be able to stay connected through my friends and professors virtually, and the additional downtime from not having on campus involvements translate into stay-at-home has meant that I have been able to reflect on all the wonderful parts about being at USC.

Before the semester turned virtual, it had been going great! While my chemical engineering classes were the hardest they have ever been, for the first time I was enrolled in two upper division political science classes for my minor, both of which I loved, reminding me yet again why pursuing a minor in a field I am passionate about (despite how heavy my course load is) has been worth it. As with all hard classes in my major, this semester brought with it more collaboration and stronger friendships with my fellow chemical engineers; the bonds forged in the dual crucibles of thermodynamics and reactor design are truly ones I will cherish for a long time to come. This semester has also brought with it some of my favorite social experiences thus far in college: traveling with my Model UN team to San Francisco for an intense and engaging weekend of debate, exploring Universal Studios for the first time in three years with my fellow Viterbi Student Ambassadors, many of whom I have grown to be good friends with, and engaging more with the Indian community on campus through cultural events, have all made for a half semester so eventful that it almost feels like a full semester’s worth of experiences!

While I am nostalgic about a half-semester of unfinished experiences (a spring break trip I had been looking forward to, traveling to Chicago with my closest friends for Model UN, and finishing out the last few months of a tough junior year with my best friends in chemical engineering), there is so much to be grateful for.

The friendships that have strengthened in this half semester continue to thrive in quarantine; weekly book clubs over Zoom, virtual movie nights, and taking classes together over FaceTime, all serve as a reminder that while we might not be on campus anymore, the community that has made my junior year at USC so incredible, still exists. I have made more memories this half semester than some get to make in a full one, and for that, I leave junior year behind not with a sense of gloom, but with a full heart.

My Model UN team and I traveled to San Francisco in February of this semester!

Sheetal Madnani

Sheetal Madnani

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Guangzhou, China PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @sheetalmadnani On campus I have been involved with Model UN, Freshman Academy, and interning abroad through the USC Global Fellows program! I also conduct undergrad research in environmental policy and heat mitigation strategies.

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