COLUMN: I NEED A BREAK

LAUREN WISDOM, TRUMPET FEATURE WRITER

I am a senior this year, and I need a break. In my previous three years, we have gotten a Fall Break near the end of October. Over Fall Break, I would go home to Illinois and visit my friends and family who I had not seen in a couple of months and go to my local apple orchard to get in some fall festivities. 

Most students at other colleges may think that a Fall Break is pointless since students don’t get a full week off from classes. They may be jealous that we get an additional break and they do not get that privilege. However, what these students do not know is that Wartburg students do not get many days off throughout the entire semester like a typical college student does. 

Fall Break is necessary for students at Wartburg to regroup and refresh our minds after long days of school, athletics, homework, studying and work. For some of us, Fall Break days are used for our mental health. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 ruined that luxury for us this year. Wartburg College leaders took away Fall Break to prevent the spread of the virus. With many students going back home to their out-of-state addresses and coming back to campus a few days later, Wartburg did not want to take any risks of a possible outbreak at the school. They thought it would be safer to keep the students on campus for the entire semester, but allow for them to travel home for Thanksgiving and not return until the new year.

Coming back

March 20, 2020. That was the day I packed all of my belongings from my room on campus into my car, and left Wartburg, not knowing when I was coming back. This added two extra months of being home to my summer break even though classes were still going on. Those were two extra months I would have to go without seeing my roommates, my teammates, my friends and all of the people who have helped me grow into the person I am today.

All summer, I was looking forward to coming back to Wartburg. I was grateful that we had the opportunity to attend classes in person, as I learn better that way, instead of an online-only option. This was more than what some other colleges are doing in the United States. 

As move-in day grew closer, I became more excited to see the people I have not seen in months. In addition, I was eager to start playing softball again after our season was cut short, right after we played 12 games in Florida over Winter Break. 

Coming back to campus, I knew things would be different. Everyone would be wearing masks, there would be significantly fewer social gatherings, some of our breaks would be taken away from us, and more. If I were granted three wishes, one of them would be to have my last year at Wartburg have some sort of “normal” in it.

Things were looking really good when I first arrived at Wartburg. Then, I made it about a week and a half until I was put into quarantine. Flash forward three days later, I was put into isolation as I had shockingly tested positive for COVID-19. 

Due to the high numbers, all athletic practices and competitions were shut down for two weeks. Luckily, I did not miss any of our fall softball practices, except for one week of lifting. 

Still, being in isolation was one of the worst times that I have had mentally. Although, once it was all over, I did not have to worry about getting contact-traced or catching the virus for the remainder of the semester. But, even then, I did not have a single day off throughout those 14 days. In fact, the entire student body has not been granted any off days the entire semester, except for Outfly, of course.

This semester has felt like a constant sprint. Every day, I have had some sort of homework assignment to complete, whether that be a project, a reading reflection, or writing another article for the Trumpet. On top of my academics, I have had to balance my internship and the work that goes into it. And, I have had softball-related activities almost every day since I arrived. I feel like I have not had time to breathe and take time for myself. 

I am sure I am not the only student on campus who feels this way, but I need a break. 

Lauren Wisdom and her roommates on the first day of school.

Going Home

Last school year when we were told to leave campus, I thought for sure students would be back again to experience the happiness of May Term. Unfortunately, when we went home, we were told to stay there. And, here we are in November, and things are still not the way they have been. This is why I am nervous about going home because I am unsure if we will come back in early January.

As we near the end of the semester, the more excited I get about returning home. I have not been home since I got to campus in late August. Sure, there have been a few opportunities on the weekends when I could have gone home to spend some time with my family. However, I keep thinking that I live a little less than four hours away, and the time I would spend with family would not be nearly as much as I would have liked because I have to allow enough time to get back to campus, too. 

I am a homebody. I love my hometown of Sycamore, Illinois, and I love the familiarity of it. Whenever I visit home, I enjoy seeing my best friends who I have known since elementary school. Plus, my job in a warehouse over the summer allowed me to connect with people I have known about through high school. My job helped me establish really great friendships this summer, and I cannot wait until I see those people again.

On the other hand, I do not want to leave my friends or my professors behind at Wartburg. Who knows when the next time I see them will be if the virus takes a turn for the worse while we are off campus.  

The thing that is making me want to stay on campus a little longer is my roommates. I believe that the seven of us became closer friends this semester than we were in the past, and I think COVID-19 plays a part in that. There are fewer chances for us to get to do things off campus. As a result, we have done a lot of roommate bonding like going out to dinner together, going on walks or doing our nails together on Friday nights. 

Our busy schedules kept us on campus, which allowed for more time to be spent together. I do not have thanks to give COVID-19 for the things it has taken away, but I am appreciative of the stronger bonds between my roommates and me, especially. 

All in all, I am eager to return home and the happiness it brings me. A piece of me wants to stay a few extra days to spend time with some of the people who help bring out the best in me. However, I am remaining optimistic through it all, and I will see you all in 2021.

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