The Return to In-Person: A New Normal at ‘Nova

Joe Adams, Staff Writer

Villanova is back. 

Those are three words I never expected to say so soon. At the end of last semester, I did not think that we would be back, in person, mostly maskless and back to the way things used to be. Of course, most of us are relieved, excited and ready to experience what college truly is all about. But for me, there’s another feeling that I have been hearing about more and more: anxiety.

For many of us, this is the first time that we have been back in large crowds, socializing with dozens of people a day. Don’t get me wrong; it is a genuinely great feeling to be walking to class and saying hi to recognizable faces, which was near impossible last year. But at the same time, coming back full speed ahead without much of a transition back to normal college life has been a unique adjustment.

As a sophomore, I’ve never known Villanova in any other way than last year’s atypical two semesters. I’ve quickly learned that Belle Air Terrace (1.0) is a go-to spot, main campus can get fairly busy around noon and that long tables are so much better than eating in plexiglass boxes in the dining halls. However, I’ve also learned that there are a lot more in-person events and things to do around campus. Everything going on can get overwhelming and lead to burnout.

Although some students are enjoying their time here, many may be feeling this burnout already. It is difficult to go back to normal right now. Feeling tired and anxious has been normal. Getting right back into the swing of things is everything we had wanted, and it truly is amazing. But I never expected this adjustment to be so tiresome. 

As a sophomore, I do find myself feeling like a freshman all over again, trying to figure out the ins and outs of Villanova. I’m having to adjust on the fly and learn all about the things I never got to experience last year. I think for many students, especially sophomores, it is difficult to constantly feel like we have to catch ourselves up, and we find ourselves feeling behind because we don’t know everything that a typical college sophomore would know.

The impacts of the pandemic are long-lasting, and the sad reality is that many Villanova students must deal with their own mental health struggles following this difficult and tiring year. According to a survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.1% of adults in the United States are reporting symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, which is up from 11% in 2019. COVID-19 will continue to impact so many of us for years to come, and it is important for all of us to take care of ourselves. These struggles, combined with readjusting to academic and social life in a more traditional year at Nova are a lot to handle. 

For me, I’ve found running, journaling, giving myself time to relax or just talking about how I feel with friends can aid in anxious feelings related to adjusting to the new year. Remember that as Villanovans, we all have each other’s backs, and we are a community that must continue to be patient and kind with one another. 

The bottom line is this: if you are feeling anxious about the new normal at Villanova, that is okay. Remember that there are resources available on campus, not only in the University Counseling Center, but in each other. Hopefully as the semester goes on, the adjustment will become easier, and we can all get acclimated to life at Villanova as it used to (and should) be.