The vast majority of Cornell students who have chosen to return to campus this fall arrived with sky-high anxiety. The challenges of hybrid online and in-person courses, new social-distancing rules which are prevalent in nearly every facet of the college experience, family financial hardships and, of course, the concern for health and the health of our loved ones is on everybody’s mind. For incoming freshmen, it’s all of the above with the added test of the fall being their first time living independently, without an established support system. Students, professors and faculty, we’ll all be rapidly adjusting to new routines on top of the regular rigor of higher education. Let’s agree that it’s going to be extremely stressful, and that maintaining mental health is vital to making the most out of learning in person.
Loneliness is scary. It creeps up at night in our apartment, at lunch with our peers or on the ride back from your job at a local restaurant. We begin to feel unenthusiastic about our life and the future. The world seems a little bit bigger, a little bit darker. Your phone is right next to you but reaching out to someone seems impossible.
A small army of students hired by Cornell, known as “Gorge Stewards,” patrol campus’ two gorges from May through September, providing guided tours and natural history lessons — while making sure visitors enjoy the scenery safely.
It was pitch black out, even though the sun had barely set beyond the distant mountains. Dense cloud cover and even denser evergreens obscured the weak light of the quarter moon, making it nearly impossible to find secure footing on the slick rocks that studded the muddy trail. I had been hiking since 6 a.m. and now had no food, little water and was still three hours away from my car. I was beginning to regret not checking the batteries in my headlamp — the weak beam had faded away in to insignificance within minutes of switching it on, slowing my pace to a crawl as I squinted at my feet, making sure I wasn’t about to fall in to the winding Opalescent River.