Reflecting on Fall 2021
Fall is my favorite term at Dartmouth. The weather is cool, the trees colorful, and pumpkin spice is everywhere. What's more, fall 2021 (aka 21F) is the first "normal" term since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so campus is especially full of energy and excitement. Because of this, my personal experience with academics, social life, and mental health was nothing but great in 21F.
Most courses were taught fully in-person in 21F. So, besides the indoor mask mandate, things were back to normal in the classroom—the days of logging into Zoom from my laptop two minutes before class were over.
Being in person made an incredible difference in my academic performance. In an in-person class, it is much easier to focus, form a support group with classmates, and to get to know your professors. Additionally, I found that having separate spaces for lectures, studying, and group work helped me organize my schedule and prioritize my work more efficiently, giving me more free time to enjoy campus.
Without physical distancing or gathering restrictions, social life at Dartmouth is back to its old self. The dining halls are packed at each meal; when the weather is nice, students can be seen working together on the Green; and unlike most of the past year, we now have all four classes of students on campus—my favorite part of 21F was reconnecting with old friends, some of whom I had not seen in almost two years. Plus, with things opening there's never a dull moment. Nightlife is back in Frat Row, the pool halls are open, you can workout at Alumni Gym at any time of day, and downtown Hanover is welcoming anyone and everyone. It's good to be back.
Because of all the things mentioned above, my mental health was great in 21F. Studying remotely at the start of the pandemic made it easy to feel unmotivated, isolated, and stressed—there was no outlet, and with nothing being certain all we could do was keep adapting. Being in Hanover with a restored sense of normality made me happy. If I felt unmotivated, I could head to the quiet part of the Baker Berry Library, where seeing hundreds of my peers hard at work would push me to finish my readings. If I ever got stressed with schoolwork, my friends, professors, and TAs, were right next to me to provide support and take some weight off my shoulders. And if I ever felt bored, I could walk into Novack Cafe and would almost certainly find my friends in line for coffee.
In short, 21F was amazing.