A new semester has arrived, and students have finally made it back to campus. Students have never experienced a winter break quite like this, and the transition back to school will present individuals with new challenges, new feelings and possibly even new inspiration. Navigating the seemingly never-ending pandemic, switching back into “school mode” after six weeks off and moving into dorms full of people in similar situations all provide new obstacles.

It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming feelings that many are experiencing during these times. How do I write a paper again? How am I going to go back to surviving on dining hall food? What if COVID-19 starts shutting classes down and I am forced to quarantine? It’s important to realize that these feelings are entirely valid and demand to be felt. It’s also important to realize that performing this transition with the mindset of “one step at a time,” will help make the impossible seem possible. As cheesy as the phrase, “we’re all in this together,” may seem, it’s backed with a lot of truth at this particular stage. We need to support one another and allow others to struggle, grow and learn from these difficult times.

All of the attention on the pandemic combined with the newness of the situation may also overshadow the excitement normally attached to the start of the semester. A new semester means yet another opportunity to expand our knowledge and learn from mentors and peers brimming with information. It also provides a way to form and strengthen friendships that could last a lifetime. I’ve only spent one semester on campus so far and already know that I have created friendships that will last. I have met people that have pushed me to be better, and I feel extremely confident that these social interactions will be a part of my experience at MSU that will never escape my memory.

College is stressful, and it doesn’t make it easier that most aspects of life don’t feel permanent at the moment. But turning on “student and work mode” during the first few weeks of 2021 presents us all with the unique opportunity to learn lessons and become stronger in ways that were unavailable in the past. This current transition is scary but is, in some ways, magical. We get to learn more and are lucky to be able to do that in a live classroom. We get to live with our friends and be there for one another. We get to use this pandemic and these struggles for personal and societal benefit. 

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