As the pandemic rules ease off, the campus is coming back to life.
It’s bright outside. The campus is once again full of people and the buildings seem happy about it. This is what this place was made for, that flow of everyone going everywhere. Students running from the metro to the library, to the labs, to the study rooms, to the accommodations. People sitting, chatting and eating on every bench, window sill and doorstep.
What a year last year was! An extended, unintentional experiment. Video calls in your bedroom with classmates you’ve never met became the everyday standard. The architecture building, where my education is centred, was almost empty for the full year. Now that we’ve come back to the campus, we’re all remembering why we missed it so much.
The video calls just didn’t make up for joining friends at the lecture hall, finding seats and saying hello to all the people you know. I have now learned how great it is to have a real-life lecturer coming into the room, getting to listen to them and chat to them easily and personally. We made the best of it, meeting up in small groups in cafés and parks, but it became clear that the university is really best as a social catalyst.
Today the teaching is back in person and the campus restaurants and bars have all opened back up, but things have also changed since before the pandemic. People have become used to video calling and remote working. It has become totally ordinary to have mixed lectures and meetings where some are physically present and others join digitally though the laptop.
This is one small advantage we have gained, making different communications methods and diversifying the ways that we can learn and connect with people. But for all we have learned, the best thing today is that all we missed so much; the chats, the coffees, the flirting, the joking, are back now and better than ever.