A student makes his way to a Coach USA Shortline bus on West Campus on March 16, 2020. (Boris Tsang/Sun Photography Editor)

February 21, 2021

Students Return to a Changed Campus After a Semester Away

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With around 8 inches of snow in the past week and campus spaces littered with signs encouraging social distancing, students who chose to spend the fall semester at home have returned to a very different campus than they saw a year ago

Between the shock of a seemingly new campus, unique health concerns and a limited access to on-campus eateries and libraries, the spring semester is presenting new struggles to students who spent the fall semester remotely. 

Katie Go ’22, an international student from the Philippines, said she did not return to campus in the fall due to the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in the United States, along with the added hurdles of obtaining a visa and the tense political climate at that time. 

Go cited her current class schedule as one of her main motivators for her return. 

“A lot of my classes are smaller now and a lot of them are more discussion-based and I think that time is really valuable,” Go said. “I wanted to be here in the same time zone and not have to stay up until like 4 a.m. for some of my classes.” 

Classes were one of many factors that motivated some students to make the trip back to Ithaca this semester. 

“I decided to come back for two main reasons. One was because I wanted the environment to be able to focus and I kind of felt disconnected from the Cornell community being at home,” said Justin Lowe ’23, a student from Kingston, Jamaica. “And also because I missed my friends who are here at Cornell.”

Although Lowe enjoyed staying home last semester, he said it was difficult to balance academics with family life, especially as he faced repeated internet issues. 

Lowe is now attempting to readjust to campus life and said he now finds it odd he needs to reserve a study space.

“I was used to walking into the library whenever,”  Lowe said. “It’s different having to book a space from X time to X time and then running the risk of not booking that space or maybe having to leave or you just can’t find a space that you want” 

Other students, like Chris Jang ’23, who stayed home in Boston during the fall, have also been attempting to adjust to a COVID-proofed campus. 

Jang said he is still acclimating to the dining halls’ reservation system — one of the many precautionary measures Cornell adapted in the fall. 

He added that he would initially forget to book a reservation for the dining halls and would instead have to make one last minute, creating more confusion for him. 

Even though some of the COVID-19 measures are new to Jang, he said he was grateful to experience Ithaca’s scenery again. 

“It’s really nice to be back where you don’t have a city around you all the time and you can go out and walk,” Jang said. “I realized I just missed Cornell’s campus so much when I was back home.”