On any given evening during a semester, it’s not uncommon to come across an excited group of friends celebrating a birthday in the Commons. Now, with many choosing to spend time with friends outside on the Varsity Terrace or Eagle Field, the Commons is a quieter place.
“I love having more seating available for meals outside with picnic tables and Eagle Field,” said Zach Jewell (Sr., MI). “[Classwork] requires me to be inside, so I take advantage of any chance to enjoy the outdoors. I hope we keep that option and expand outdoor seating even more.”
While he misses seeing his friends in larger groups, Zach relishes spending time with them where he can, including during more focused group events with his collegian. “While there weren’t as many guys there as usual, the events were as normal as they could be, and we had a great time. I’ll never forget the experiences I’ve had with my collegian this semester,” he said. “I’m praying for a normal spring semester, but I’ve been thankful just to be able to have any on-campus learning and activities this semester. The administration has done a fantastic job providing a safe and healthy environment while also allowing us to have student activities.”
After the swift return home and transition to online learning in March, Moriyah Harthcock (Sr., PA) has enjoyed being back on campus for the fall semester. “This semester is much better than last semester because I can still study with my friends in person, and the teachers have office hours so I can meet with them more easily if issues arise,” she said. By taking a couple of classes online, Moriyah has appreciated having flexibility in her schedule. “If I pick up an extra work shift, I can always watch the lecture later, or if I’m [tired], I can grab a cup of coffee.”
What were once new adjustments are now second nature in the age of COVID-19—grabbing takeout and claiming a picnic table by Four Winds, meeting a few friends for the 8 a.m. Sunday morning Campus Church service, or waiting to order coffee in a socially-distanced line at Common Grounds.
As a freshman, Luke Nakamura (NC) doesn’t know what life on campus may have been like before this semester, but he feels that he has adjusted well—especially since he now remembers to grab his mask before heading out of his residence hall room. After becoming involved with his collegian and joining its soccer team, he’s looking forward to Turkey Bowl, hoping his team will be participating in the event this year.
While he is new to campus, Luke did experience an unexpected reunion. “I have reconnected with one friend that I have not seen nor heard from in 9 years. We played rec league soccer together in North Carolina starting at age four, and we played together until age ten,” he said. “One of my friends invited him to dinner. When I first saw him, I could not believe that we ended up at the same out-of-state private Christian college and that we had become friends with the same person. It was just a really ‘small world’ moment.”
Lillie Boussom (Jr., IN) chose to continue learning from home this semester. While her transition to online learning this past spring was a fast one, she felt more settled and prepared to tackle online courses this fall while remaining with her family. “[My online learning experience] has improved because I had time to prepare and get ready to manage my time more efficiently. And I believe the teachers have been more prepared as well, which makes for a better learning experience,” she said. “I am deeply grateful to the College for allowing me to keep my Fourth-Year-Free status, even through this semester of being online, and I can’t wait to return to campus in the spring!”
Since The Bahamas had restricted travel, sophomore Andre Prosper’s decision to stay home wasn’t entirely his, but he has really enjoyed his online experience. He reorganized his at-home schedule to give more time for classes, while also letting him get enough sleep to stay on top of assignments. “This experience has been great,” he said. “I get to spend more time with family and friends. Usually, coming to the ending of the semester, I get homesick, but this time it’s impossible because I am home. And the education we have been receiving via video is quality education and nothing less.”
With so many differences on campus this semester, students like Abby Chiaradia (So., WA) are glad to enjoy some events that have remained constant—even if a mask and social distancing are needed to attend them. “I’m looking forward to the Fine Arts performances and getting to see people’s recitals and art showings,” she said. “I think these things will give a sense of normalcy in being able to experience excellent performances with friends and being able to congratulate my friends and peers for their achievements.”
With midterms wrapping up, the future still holds so many more opportunities to get involved, serve others, and support each other through this semester. “It has been such a blessing reconnecting with friends on campus. God has allowed me to catch up with acquaintances from last semester and to grow closer to others. It really feels like we’re all facing these changes and trying to grow together,” said Abby. “I’m just really thankful for PCC’s handling of on-campus classes with COVID-19. I praise God for how successfully we’ve been able to get through this semester so far.”