Whether you chose to stay home this semester or if you’ve returned to Blacksburg, Virginia Tech looks and feels quite different this fall. We thought we dreaded taking classes in claustrophobic chambers in McBryde. Now I’m sure we would all trade MyBryde for our bedrooms any day. We loathed having to hike across campus to New Classroom Building. Now I find myself roaming campus for hours with a sweaty mask on just for ‘old times’ sake. Despite how difficult it is to realize that your academic world shrunk into the confines of your laptop, there are a few silver linings that make this semester a little more tolerable.
More time to explore Blacksburg’s surrounding environment
With public locations predominantly shut down throughout quarantine or now at limited capacity, our Instagram feeds are no longer cluttered with pictures from bars or restaurants. It seems as if in the past few months, everyone decided to buy hiking boots and head for the mountains. Since embracing this newfound love for the outdoors in a world of online schooling, we now have more time to make trips to local hiking trails, waterfalls and rivers.
Nothing screams quarantine quite like raising your virtual hand and diverging into breakout rooms. Now that most class periods take place on a computer screen, no longer do you need to suffer through those lectures where the professors read directly from the Powerpoint slides. Your laptop’s camera can only see so much. So take the opportunity (while still paying at least a little attention, of course) to catch up on some extra homework or online shop. The possibilities are endless.
Less time spent trying to navigate BT
Remember this time last year, when you were gripping the straps hanging from the ceiling praying you weren’t going to lose your balance, all while standing nose to armpit with that guy that was just sweating in 90-degree weather? Those were the days. With no need to venture to campus as much, Blacksburg Transit is no longer overflowing with students and their unnecessarily large backpacks. Now buses limit their capacity to approximately two-thirds capacity. With a multitude of online courses, many of us don’t need to fret over missing our bus every morning.
More freedom to create your own schedule
As all classes are in-person, hybrid, asynchronous or synchronous, our daily lives are no longer confined to chunks of time split between classrooms and lines in dining halls. With this new schedule, we no longer have to plan out our school work so rigidly. Clubs, sorority/fraternity chapters, and other meetings have all gone online which significantly decreases the amount of time spent getting to and from the event much less the event itself.
Love grows for Tech even more
After returning to Blacksburg, we’re all reminded of the wonderful memories we’ve made here. From West End Sunday brunches to midnights spent in Newman, we cherish it all the same. With a semester somewhat taken from us, we realize how short our time as Virginia Tech students truly is. We’re each only given four years here, and whether we appreciated our time before the pandemic or not, we definitely do now. Virginia Tech is to thank for our friendships, our relationships, our careers and everything in between.
Yes, while this semester isn’t what anyone intended, it’s definitely taught us that our time here is special, and we need to do everything in our power to get safely back to normal — even if that means saying goodbye for a little bit.