Fall has arrived. The once green leaves around campus are now bursting with color, hot and humid days are becoming rarer and rarer as the air carries the chill of autumn. Already six weeks into school, I am surprised at how fast time is moving, even with 2020 being the year of lost time. What a year. Not a good year, but it sure has been a year! This will be my last fall as an undergrad student, and with that possibly my last fall living in Durham. As we precariously continue school on campus, celebrating each day here and each negative test result as a victory, I have learned to savor each mask-clad and socially distanced moment. To quote RENT, “There’s no day but today” – tomorrow is not guaranteed, so while we’re still on campus we may as well make the most of it.
Though I am grateful that we are still able to be on campus, it is bizarre seeing my home-away-from-home changed so much. I cannot help but think back on my four years here and long for the quite literal simpler times. So in an attempt to impart some college-student wisdom on some of the underclassmen reading this, or heck, even the juniors, here are five things that you won’t take for granted at UNH after coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Sporting Events
I have a confession: I have not gone to a single sporting event at UNH. Wild E. Cat would be disappointed in me and who knows what Gnarlz would think of my Wildcat Pride. Living in the Minis, I would always hear the roar of the crowd echo through the valley on fall weekends. But it was always one thing or another:
“I don’t feel like going tonight.”
“Maybe I’ll go to the next game”
“Next year I’ll go to at least one game.”
Famous last words. Turns out you can’t plan a senior-year to-do list a year in advance.
I don’t think I would have ever become a football fanatic, or gone to every hockey and basketball game, but I do wish I went to at least one game and got to join the crowd of Wildcats cheering for the team, our home team. Maybe I would have even bought a foam finger or painted my face blue and white. Sports will return- when that will happen is still anyone’s guess, but if you have the chance, you should take it, even if sports aren’t really your thing. It’s a free night of entertainment and infectious school spirit. Okay, maybe infectious isn’t the word to use right now, but you get the picture. Join in the fun.
- Dining Hall Shenanigans
Oh, the dining hall. Food criticisms aside, it is bizarre to see the dining hall divided into plastic cubes that are barely used. To quote a memorable cartoon fish, there are three important things to any eatery: “Food. Water. Atmosphere!” And with that, the atmosphere of the dining halls has changed dramatically.
Learn to embrace the chaos in normal times.
Embrace the fact that at least one television in Philbrook is always playing Star Trek marathons. Or the herds of dude-bro laughter echoing through the room. The accidentally dropped cups and plates, absolute showstoppers. The table in Hoco that never lights up. The horrible, horrible lines on Italian Night where you’d think no one ever had pasta alfredo before.
They all may seem like little annoyances, but they fill the dining halls with life and with character.
3. Campus Events
Being picky about going to events on campus seems like a luxury of the past. To think there was a time when there would be live plays, comedians, free movies, and a handful of other events on any given weekend, only for you to decide to stay in for the weekend. Now even a trip to Walmart feels decadent.
It is a relief that the theatre organizations around campus and other groups are still having events in one form or another, but as I can imagine that, like sports, there was certain electricity with a live crowd. Bursting with laughter with strangers around you, eyes wide in shock and suspense, excitement bubbling in you as the lights are dimmed and the show begins.
Netflix and Dominos can wait- you’re only here for so long, so sit down and enjoy the show. Or the comedian. Or the- you get it.
4. May Day
May Day: One of UNH’s underrated gems.
It is the type of event that makes you feel at home at UNH. A small annual carnival with rides and stands in Parking Lot B, it had a wonderful charm to it and was one of the nicest ways to end the school year. Its inevitable cancellation in the spring was one of the hardest parts about being sent home. With this little celebration you know that summer was coming, that another year of hard work was coming to a close. To think that it may very well not happen again this year is heartbreaking.
If you have the chance to go, go. It may not be Six Flags or Canobie Lake, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s just May Day, plain and simple, and a part of UNH.
5. Hall Socials
One of these things is not like the other. Like with some events on campus, we are fortunate enough to have hall socials still. And I have to say, the RAs around campus have been making them work. But that does not mean you should take them for granted.
Maybe it’s the months of quarantine, or it being my senior year, but socials feel extra special now. I was active in my dorm community before, but now it feels like people are even closer than before. It’s easy to think of hall events as something for freshmen, but they really are just ways of your community coming together. And hasn’t quarantine shown us the importance of communities coming together?
College happens. Life happens. Pandemics happen. If this has taught us anything, it is that we need to appreciate what we have here. If you told me in my freshman year of college that a global pandemic would threaten to rock my senior year, I would probably look at you funny but then do more. Go to a hockey game. Try to watch a full episode of Star Trek in Philly. See more comedians. Ride another ride at May Day. And make sure to enjoy the company of my community and friends just a little bit more.