The First Week of College During COVID-19
By Alli Dayton, Contributing Writer
When I first discovered that Gettysburg College made the decision for students to follow a residential model this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I was elated. Residential learning is an essential aspect of the Gettysburg College experience and I am certain that every student continues to be grateful for our ability to live on campus. As a first-year student, I assumed that I would experience significant changes and challenges when moving into a new place for the first time. However, the new residential model contained some unexpected adjustments.
Prior to the day I moved in, my family and I drove three hours from our home in Delaware to my new home in Gettysburg. Upon arrival, I followed the signs directing me to my first COVID-19 test. As I looked around at the masks, plexiglass barriers, and physical distancing markings on the floor, I realized that I was beginning a very different freshman year of college than students before me. The testing was efficient and simple, but it, unfortunately, added another level of stress to an already nerve-wracking experience.
Following my test, I began the move-in process. When my family and I approached Stine Hall, we saw a cohort of RA’s in orange t-shirts, who greeted students from a distance. While I am certain that climbing several flights of stairs with heavy boxes and no air conditioning is ordinarily an unpleasant task, the use of masks made this even more difficult. With only one family member allowed to assist with the move-in at a time, in addition to distancing requirements between families, the process was much slower than normal.
After fully unpacking, I hugged my family and left the dorm with my roommate to eat our first meal on campus. Walking toward the Atrium, we were shocked to see the extremely long line of freshmen who were waiting for their dinner. On our first night, we stood in the line for nearly forty minutes in the blazing sun to receive a couple of pre-packaged meals. We were disappointed, given that SERVO is famous for excellent food and our dinner was not a reflection of that. Luckily, after withstanding the subpar Atrium food for a few days, we were able to visit the main dining hall. Although SERVO looks different from previous years, it is evident that the staff is committed to providing students with the same delicious food and enjoyable dining experience.
Over the past two weeks on campus, I have encountered numerous moments of frustration over my inability to do activities that were once considered so “normal.” I am not able to whisper something to a peer in class, welcome a new group of friends to my dorm, or sing in the choir without a mask. Nevertheless, I am incredibly grateful to be a student living on this campus and I appreciate the college’s efforts to keep every student safe.