Time is a funny thing. It feels like just last week that we arrived back on campus in January, and March of 2019 sometimes feels like it belongs to another decade. There is a sense that we are finally reaching both the end of one era and the beginning of another. With more and more students, faculty, and families getting the COVID-19 vaccine every day, returning to some sense of normalcy no longer seems out of reach. I do wonder, though, what will this new normalcy look like?

Unlike every other class of students, we freshman have never experienced Furman under normal circumstances. We have never seen the DH with all of its stations open or sat down for meals with more than four to a table. We don't know what it’s like to sit in a packed stadium, cheering on our peers, donning our Furman gear with painted faces. We haven’t been to concerts, plays, and other performances without being socially distanced. We don’t know what it’s like to go to class without wiping down our desks before and after we use them, without wearing our masks the whole time. We’ve never really had what one would call a “normal” college experience.

And I must say, last semester was a bit rough. There was always a latent fear that our campus would shut down, just like so many others. Irresponsible parties could threaten the entire campus. You would never know when you might get a call saying that you would have to quarantine until further notice. Someone could randomly report you on LiveSave, or expose you on Instagram if you weren’t following the rules at all times. There were no days off at all in the rush towards an early last day of class. With many classes online, it often felt as though we were getting all of the work of college life with little of the fun. 

Not everything was so dark and dreary, of course. We made it through the entire semester without shutting down, which was quite a feat when compared to other colleges across North and South Carolina. Thanksgiving in the DH was phenomenal, and the clubs that did get to meet brought little bits of fun through all of their events. After we returned in the spring, the restrictions and fears that marked the fall began to lessen. As we moved from Phase Orange, to Yellow, and finally to Purple, the campus has grown more and more lively, with more events held on campus, larger groups allowed indoors and outdoors, and a few days off here and there. We’re still not there yet, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and closer.

Some freshmen may lament that our first year has been a poor introduction to the college experience, and they are correct. But there just might be an upside to not knowing what you're missing. All of the other classes of students know just how much their past years have differed from this year and a half. I especially feel for this year’s and last year’s seniors who had to end their time here at Furman in a way they could have never anticipated. While the effects the pandemic have had on Furman are undeniably terrible, I do think that they will make the joys of the coming years even sweeter. We freshmen will have the unique experience of gradually discovering what real college life is like, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.