The usual take on my unusual college experience

The+usual+take+on+my+unusual+college+experience

Shane Stryker, Community Editor

It should come as no surprise that the past 18 months have been unusual. It’s hard for me to remember a time before the COVID-19 pandemic was a relevant theme in all of our lives, and it feels as if we’ve almost become comfortable in our socially distanced and mask-wearing environment.

If you really sit back and think about it, you should come to realize the last time WKU was operating normally the current senior class was in the spring semester of their sophomore year.

On top of that, the current juniors only had a single normal semester before the pandemic, and the current freshman and sophomores won’t experience a normal life on the hill until things get back to normal.

Even before enrolling in WKU, the current sophomores had their senior year cut short, while the current freshman spent their final year of high school distanced and wearing masks. To be short, our previous situation as a whole has been nothing close to ideal.

This all begs the question of what it will be like when we do finally return to normalcy. The reality is by that time, most of the students on campus who remember a pre-pandemic WKU will have graduated and moved on from our home in Bowling Green.

Those who replace them will have spent the last couple of years in a similar boat. Whether or not they were a part of the WKU community doesn’t mean they won’t be carrying the baggage of the pandemic along with them when they finally do arrive.

So what does that mean for the future students of WKU? We have all been living semi-isolated lives for the past year and a half, with no clear understanding of when it will all end or what it will be like when everything is normal again.

At this point, it’s kind of hard to even remember what normal is.

There’s a common understanding that when you upset the rhythm of something, it takes a while for everything that was disrupted to catch back up. I would argue that we have finally adjusted to living in a global pandemic over the past 18 months.

Through our adjustment, we have all had to do difficult things. I would be surprised if anyone told me that they are even close to the person that they were when the pandemic began.

That being said, it may be quite jarring when we finally do return to a normal environment here on the hill, and that’s okay. We need to be able to recognize how far we have come and what it’s taken to get to this point.

Once we do that, we can be proud of ourselves as a community and reflect on everything that has happened in a somewhat positive light. However, that doesn’t mean this transition is going to be easy.

We’ve lived in a world that none of us would have ever expected to live in, and that takes a large toll. It is vital for us as a community to really assess how this pandemic has affected us, which should come as no surprise due to the many mental health issues that came to light throughout the endless COVID-19 media coverage.

When a wound goes untreated, it can become infected. If you leave something sitting around, it’ll collect dust. We need to be sure that we are being attentive to the problems that we’ve had to deal with throughout the course of this pandemic, because if we are absent, more problems can arise.

With this acknowledgement, the transition back into normal life will be so much easier. Instead of surviving the pandemic, we should feel as if it’s something we conquered. Not on our own, but with those around us.

That’s what I’m really trying to say here. I am incredibly proud of how much we have grown as a community in the past year and a half, whether it be from conquering the pandemic, bringing attention to social injustice, or making it through three very difficult semesters.

There’s still work to be done, and I know that, but a new school year is upon us and I am incredibly excited to see how we navigate whatever may come our way. Maybe I’m just romanticizing things, but I do know one thing for sure.

We are Hilltoppers, and we were made to conquer the difficult path ahead of us.

Shane Stryker can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @shanestryker.