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With universities opening back up, many students have been eager to return to campus after going through self-isolation for a little less than half a year.

At Keene State, the term, “new normal”, has definitely come to fruition. With mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, no social gatherings and even little things like wearing a mask while playing a full out five-on basketball game has definitely made the atmosphere on campus noticeably different. With that being said, there is also a noticeable difference in how comfortable each class is with their current experience at Keene State.

First-year students are settling into their classes for the first time and, needless to say, it has been a different experience adjusting to college life during this pandemic. Keene State first-year Jeremy Bartley thought settling into Keene seemed to be a tough challenge.

“To leave friends and family was hard, but being able to create new friendships really encompasses what the KSC community is about,” Bartley said.

Bartley also noted that the social distancing students have to go through is taking away from certain aspects of freshman year.“It was a challenge for all freshmen. Not being able to communicate in person leaves a blank area that would’ve been filled with things like in-person orientation,” said Bartley.

Bartley lives in a single dorm in the LLC and said the isolation was getting to him as not much was going on at KSC. He said, “being in a single dorm was isolating at first, however, as these weeks have passed, I’ve made some great friends so I’m able to get out very often.” Bartley noted he made the best out of a tricky situation, and in a time like this, all we can do is make the best of what we have.

While Bartley is still getting acclimated to college life, sophomores are navigating a very new Keene State campus. Keene State sophomore Patrick Cohen noted this has definitely been an interesting year so far.

“It was different, but it went better than I thought it would. Keene has also done a good job of keeping everyone safe and making the transition easier. It could’ve gone a lot worse,” said Cohen.

Cohen also talked about how while the transition may have been smoother than expected, it doesn’t mean it has been a cake walk.

“This time last year, I had a job as an assistant coach for the volleyball team. If we compare that to this year, I have yet to attend a practice because of the limited numbers allowed per practice, ergo, I haven’t been able to work,” said Cohen.

Cohen did talk about how his dorm situation has helped him deal with the social distancing we have to go through. He said, “I live in an 8-person suite in Pondside 3 so having that definitely helps with there not being too much to do on campus. I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I had to live in a 2-person room. That would get to me after a while.”

The on-campus students are still trying to figure out this very different college situation, and the story stays the same with off-campus students. Senior Adrian Bolte is tackling online classes for the first time. He said, “At first, I was really nervous because I’ve been so used to the classroom environment, but after the first few weeks, I’m very confident. Although I still prefer in-person, doing school work at home gives me more flexibility.”

Bolte noted that he has rarely gone on campus this semester saying, “the only time I’ve been on campus so far this year was to get tested. There is really nothing left for me on campus considering I don’t have a meal plan, and have all my classes online. My only real use for campus would be to print articles for my school work.”

Bolte finished by explaining how he has coped with his unconventional senior year. “This isn’t how I expected my senior year to go but that’s life. I’ve grown closer to the people around me and I’m happy to say I’ve taken a positive from this experience. I don’t need a virtual graduation to feel like I’ve made something of myself at Keene State.”


William Dey can be contacted at:

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