It’s finals season, which means we’re final-ly near the end of the school year and summertime is fast approaching. Change is in the air: it’s Taurus season, there was a supermoon last week, and I’m getting my second dose of the vaccine next week. Over the course of the next few months, things will only continue to change dramatically as people finish their vaccinations and we all return to campus in the fall, which has me feeling both excited and nervous.

Last week, I was nostalgically scrolling through my photo library and came across a picture of Eastman Quad I took in fall of 2019. It was completely unrecognizable — choked with people running to class, brushing against one another, out of breath, maskless. 

That time, although only just over a year ago, feels so distant I can barely remember it. Now, the hallways are almost completely deserted. We’re scattered all across the world. Of the few students who aren’t remote, I don’t recognize anyone underneath their masks. I haven’t had an in-person class since March 2020. The college experience, as we once knew it, has completely transformed.

Going back to in-person class for my final year of college feels surreal. I’ve been looking at my computer for over a year nonstop, and my world has been almost entirely virtual. What’s it going to feel like to be in class face-to-face again? What’s it going to feel like to sit in-person, side by side, with my peers?

The pandemic continues to rage onward, but things are not the same as they once were — slowly but surely, things in Rochester are crawling back to some semblance of normalcy. Concerts are returning. Restaurants are open again. Even movie theaters have begun holding showings. Come September, this city will feel entirely different. 

But what does “back to normal” even mean? Businesses are opening up again and society is returning to its old habits, but I’m not sure I ever will. The pandemic has affected my perception of the world indefinitely. I’ am not the same person I was in March 2020, and I’m not sure how my newfound perspective will adjust to in-person classes again.

But we have a whole three months of summer until we see each other again on campus. Until then, have a great summer (remember when we used to write H.A.G.S. in each other’s yearbooks with a glitter gel pen?) and keep in touch. I’ll see you soon. 

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