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Campus Culture Shock

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By Kristi Rolf

Roanoke College is a different place in September 2021 than it was in May. During the last school year, I grew accustomed to a campus that seemed only half-alive. Many students spent the year at home, taking classes online. Those of us who remained spent more time in the library and the dining hall than in academic buildings. 

Last year, I grew accustomed to strange habits. My favorite place from which to log on to my Zoom HHP class during the fall semester was a study room on the third floor of Fintel Library. In the spring, I routinely rushed out of my morning shifts at Freshens to attend afternoon Psychology classes from my bed. 

Now every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, I find myself scurrying back and forth across the courtyard from Life Science to Trexler and back to Life Science to claim my seat in classrooms full of masked students.

As a member of the class of 2023, I have vague memories of college life pre-pandemic. I spent one and a half normal semesters at Roanoke during my Freshman year before the pandemic hit. After eighteen months, it’s been jarring to see parts of campus return to normal. Last week I realized that I had forgotten how difficult it is to navigate around the tables in a crowded Commons dining room. 

I certainly didn’t miss cruising up and down every row of the Market Street parking lot searching vainly for a parking spot before accepting defeat and retreating to the distant Hawthorne lot. This semester, my roommate and I have made a game of watching the lot from our window in Blue Ridge Hall, sometimes shouting encouragement to approaching cars when we spy an empty spot from our lookout. 

Even though a full campus can annoy me in some ways, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. For example, greeting professors and classmates in the halls during a block change makes my extraverted heart happy. The beginning of this year has reminded me that a college campus is supposed to be full of life and bustling with activity. It feels right this way.