This year, parties turned into group video chats and heartfelt talks became long phone calls at ridiculous hours because of different time zones. Rolling out of bed to grab your laptop replaced bustling to class, and office hours transformed into long strings of emails. Late-night Whataburger runs deteriorated into solitary pantry raids.
And so, college became somewhat of an individual experience, society was put on hold, and the physicality which accompanies usual human interaction disappeared.
This went on for about six months, approximately 150 days, or a whole half of a year!
It’s an uncommon amount of time for the college student to be outside the classroom.
This long separation began with an abrupt and unexpected goodbye to campus, our professors, friends and classmates.
The anticipation of returning to campus this August made me wonder, ‘Is this how Odysseus felt as he returned home after ten years?’
“What I want and all my days I pine for / Is to go back to my hours and see my day of homecoming. / And if some god batters me far out on the wine-blue water, / I will endure it, keeping a stubborn spirit inside me. . . / So let this adventure follow.” (The Odyssey, 5.219-224).
And so, Odysseus commenced his journey, survived fate’s numerous obstacles and finally arrived home. So important was Odysseus’ homecoming to goddess Athene that she halted the passage of time as he wept in the joy of reunion (23.243).
While most students probably didn’t weep in joy at the sight of the tower, campus does seem to hold more excitement and life than usual.
We have experienced our own Odyssean homecoming; do we have an extra appreciation for this school, its classrooms and our peers now that we’ve regained them?
If you take a walk around campus, you’ll see the student environment: greetings in passing, an openness to interaction and conversation, affable friendships and intellectual debates which blossom around the campus.
One will find themself engaged in casual conversation all along the mall.
And, this semester’s particular joy around campus seems to be amplified by our long-awaited return.