Students welcome summer, travel after challenging year

Caitlin Rusk walks toward the descending sunlight on a gravel road in Manhattan, Kansas on a summer evening. (Archive photo by John Benfer | Collegian Media Group)

After a challenging year of Zoom classes, quarantining, adjusting to a quiet campus and limited social gatherings, students are gladly welcoming summer vacation.

As the world slowly opens, students are traveling to new and exciting places to take time away from the strains of everyday life.

“I am going to the U.S. Virgin Islands with my family this summer,” Tatum Knudtson, freshman in finance said. “I am excited to be able to spend some quality time with my family and my aunt, uncle and cousins while exploring a new place. We are going to relax on the beach, and I might even get to go sky diving.”

While the thought of laying in the sand under the sun and listening to crashing waves in paradise sounds like a peaceful opportunity, precautions against COVID-19 still affected Knudtson’s decision.

“My family was a little hesitant on whether we should go this summer or not, but since we have all been vaccinated, I feel much more comfortable being able to travel safely without having to worry about being exposed to COVID,” Knudtson said.

Hannah West, freshman in human development and family science, is traveling with her student ministry to attend Kaleo, a nine-week camp in Gulf Shores, Alabama. West plans to spend time growing in her faith and enjoying the views on the beach while living in a waterfront condo with her Kansas State peers.

“I am so excited to travel for the first time since the start of COVID,” West said. “I think it will be nice to get out of Kansas after this challenging year that had so many difficulties and trials.”

Although West decided to drive Alabama rather than fly, she said she still plans on taking preventative measures to stay safe and healthy while on her trip.

“I do think it is essential to be cautious even if people are getting vaccinated,” West said. “I think traveling will be fine though.”

Staying cooped up indoors, away from family and friends, has been strenuous for students during the pandemic. The long days of sitting in a dorm while staring blankly into computer screens resulted in a new sense of wanderlust and a craving for adventure.

“I am excited to be able to travel again and relax with my family after a long year being cooped up with the pandemic,” Knudtson said.