OPINION: Returning to campus brings new challenges, an opportunity to be resilient

Kansas State's Intermediate Photography course taught by professor Shree Joglekar. The classroom displays a plastic shield, lysol wipes and sanitizing spray, which is needed to protect the professor and students from contracting COVID-19. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

On Monday, Aug. 17, I walked into the K-State Student Union to visit Radina’s Coffeehouse for my obligatory first day of school coffee, and I couldn’t help but notice a stark difference in the atmosphere of the building since the last time I’d walked through it. Chairs were spaced out, plastic shields stood between booths and there were probably 75 percent fewer students than before.

It wasn’t until these moments that it sunk in for me that college life as I once knew it is a thing of the past.

I, like many young people who contain a sense of invincibility, spent the last several months believing COVID-19 issues would blow over and normal life was soon to return. As time continues to pass, I realize this is simply not the case.

So what do we do with the realization that returning to college this fall is not at all what we had hoped it would be?

First, take a few moments and feel bad for yourself. The situation is disappointing and takes away a lot of the best parts of college.

Next, remember that you are strong and adaptable. As humans, life has thrown a lot at us over time. Natural disasters, world wars, personal loss and more. As a species, we’ve always found a way to keep going.

So how can we adapt right now? I can think of three ways.

1. Establish the little things in your life that are worth being grateful for.

Look around at your friends, the fact that you’re living independently, the material you get to learn and the opportunities that you are still being given. If you have a dog, don’t forget to hug them.

2. Make a plan.

Establish the things that you can do each day that are within your bounds of comfort and schedule a time to do them. Exercise, read, cook, call your mom, make a TikTok. Life might not seem thrilling anymore, and maybe it’s not, but there are things other than excitement that can make life worth living. Find whatever that is for you and then implement it into your daily schedule.

3. Take care of yourself.

Lift the potential stress of getting COVID-19 by taking care of your body. Eat things that boost and protect your immune system. Choose foods with large amounts of Vitamin D, Zinc and Vitamin C. Maybe you want to consider taking vitamins each morning. The stronger your immune system is, the less you will have to worry if you come in contact with someone with COVID-19 or contract the virus.

This situation is reminding me more than ever that life is simply and utterly unfair. It’s always going to throw another curveball. The key to getting through this situation, I’m finding, is not relishing in how disappointing that fact is. The key is recognizing that life is relentlessly unfair and still you are strong enough to get through it. Look at you, you’ve made it this far. Keep going.

Anna Schmidt is the Collegian community editor and a junior in mass communications. She is also a student senator for the College of Arts and Sciences in the Student Governing Association. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.