For many freshmen, the Friday before Thanksgiving isn’t the beginning of a weeklong break at home. It’s the beginning of a nearly three-month period they’ll spend off campus.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students living in the residence halls are required to return home and complete their fall semester classes online unless they apply for an exemption to remain on campus. When the fall semester ends on Dec. 18, students have the opportunity to take more online courses during the optional winter session, which runs until Feb. 7.
This policy most heavily affects freshmen living on campus.
“There’s no real option for us,” freshman Gracie Harrison said. “We kind of just have to go home.”
While being very eager to see friends and family at home, the process of moving back for the winter months will be a significant mental and geographical transition, Harrison said. After just recently starting to feel comfortable at IU, having to leave is almost like ripping out that newfound sense of security.
“You’ve made a new life that’s really great for you and really good for your mental health,” Harrison said. “Leaving it and having to go back to another life is weird and hard.
Freshman Ella Miller said she is going to miss the freedom of campus life the most when she goes home in November. She plans to use her hobbies and keep a schedule to stay motivated to complete her online work, but overall she said leaving campus may still have a slightly negative affect on her mental health.
“I’m gonna miss it here,” Miller said. “I’m gonna miss my friends that I made and being able to do stuff with them. I’m gonna miss walking around campus. I can walk around my neighborhood, but it’s not that exciting.”
Despite missing campus, Miller said she is excited to see her friends from home and eat her mom’s cooking during the break period. She isn’t overly concerned about managing her online courses at home because the majority of her classes have been online anyway.
Freshman Darrick Gingles is disappointed about leaving his residence hall for a few months. However, he is looking forward to spending time with his family and already anticipating the spring semester.
“I’m excited for what the rest of the year has in store for us even through COVID,” Gingles said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what fun things we still can do that I haven’t done yet, on campus and off.”