An Open Letter to the "New" SLU from a Senior
It’s been a minute since I’ve last seen you. I’ve missed the sounds of the Chapel bells at 5 p.m. and your Sunday brunches at Dana. Our world has been changing around us—don’t you feel it? No one knows how long it will last, but it’s already had a lasting impact on us. I’ve felt it, too.
Last semester, I left campus to travel across the ocean to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the semester. What a dream come true it was. However, dreams can’t last forever and neither did this one. In the span of 48 hours, I went from walking around happily through the city, to learning I would be returning back to the United States, to scrambling for a ticket and jumping on a plane back home. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement.
I don’t blame you for what happened. None of us could have seen this coming. And now, the whole world is shifting before our eyes.
But hey, chin up. It’s not all teary eyes and sad stories. Not everything is lost in the world. Things are changing, but so have we. We are resilient and ready to tackle the situations ahead. Sure, the fall semester will be unlike any other I experienced over the last three years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the most of it, and it shouldn’t deter us from looking ahead with hope for the best.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from being abroad in Denmark is to make the most of your experience, be flexible, and roll with the punches that life has to offer. I was only in Denmark for two months and thought the pandemic took so much of my experience from me —there was so much that I still wanted to do and explore while I was there. However, instead of dwelling on what I didn’t get to do, I look back fondly on the things I did. I got to travel to Sweden and Germany; take a train, metro, and bus for the first time; explore my host city and so much of its history; and make friends that I still talk to today. I brought back so many ideas and lessons, both personal and academic. Sure, there were a lot of things I didn’t get to do while I was there, such as travel to Ireland and England, but I will always treasure the adventures I had with the people I met.
When it comes to classes, I believe that our professors are eager and ready to make sure our time spent in the classroom—whether online or in person—will be full of meaningful lessons and experiences. I can’t speak for how the SLU faculty adapted to the changes of last semester, but my experience with remote classes from Denmark was positive. Simple things like singing Happy Birthday to a classmate over ZOOM, watching a movie together, or collaborating on a final project helped ensure that we were still in this together and that we had friends and peers to turn to on the other side of the screen.
I believe that the same will go for SLU. Sure, campus events will look different—who knows how Dana Brunch will be, and I won’t be able to hang out with my friends like I used to. However, I am ready to make the most of the experience I will have.
I’m excited to see my housemates again and to play CLUE and watch Big Mouth together. I’m eager to learn more from and pick the brain of Randy Hill—my advisor and a professor I’ve admired since my first year—even if it’s at 8:30 am and I am two coffees in. I’m eager to start working on my second praxis for my Gender Studies minor and my senior honors thesis for my PCA major. I’m longing for Pub smoothies and Dana waffles. I’m ready to hammock on the quad and trek up and down the hill by ODY every day. The SLU spirit will still be alive in the community, and I hope we can still look forward to those Chapel Bells at 5 p.m. every weekday.
We aren’t losing SLU because of the pandemic—if anything, we are gaining a stronger admiration for our peers as we bond over the little things we love about this community. I’m ready to make the most of my senior year, and I can only hope that you will join me with optimism and understanding as we tackle this unconventional year together. Laurentians are creative, resilient, and supportive, and our faculty and students prove this every day. No one is alone in this. Whether you are on campus, working remotely, or taking the semester off, know that we are here to offer support, laughs, and a shoulder to lean on. We’re here for you, even if we’re six feet apart.
I wish we didn’t have to meet again like this under these conditions, SLU, but I can’t wait to see you again.
Here’s to the next academic year!