A reflection on my time at Gustavus

David EideOpinion Columnist 

My time at Gustavus is finally coming to a close and since this is the last article I will ever write for The Weekly, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my time here and what it has taught me. My time at college has been a mix of so many different emotions and experiences and I think going through a broad range of them can perhaps help put a capstone on things and help me express all of the feelings I’ve been having as graduation approaches. I’m sure that a lot of the people who will read this are going through or will go through similar feelings, and will also wish to look back on their time here.

When I first came to Gustavus,  I had no idea what I was doing. I was an only child and a first-generation college student so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was lucky in that I was able to establish strong connections during the first couple of weeks of school otherwise I might have had a much harder time adapting to life on campus. I was able to find several extracurricular activities that I enjoyed greatly, and which gave my free time that much more meaning. Furthermore, while the academic side of things was definitely more rigorous than high school, it wasn’t quite the horrible workload that I had prepared myself for. All in all, I was left pleasantly surprised by my first fall semester at Gustavus and I was looking forward to what spring would bring and then of course, the entire world fell apart.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a mass wrench into my college experience, as I’m sure it did for everyone else reading this. I was one of the people who really struggled to focus during Zoom classes and I would often find my mind wandering, which meant that I had to work that much harder studying to make up for that lost learning. The loss of social activities and in-person connection also led to me slowly drifting apart from the friends that I had initially made during the fall semester. Even after we returned to school in my Sophomore year, things were still pretty rough. We were still attending Zoom class and it was still fairly hard to socialize with all the restrictions imposed for safety reasons. It was also during this year that I had my first true experience with living on my own. Officially I had a doubles room in Plex, but due to outside circumstances, I wound up being the only person in the room giving me full reign of the entire dorm. This was kind of a mixed bag as while it was pretty great to have my own room and full privacy, it also further compounded the already lonely vibes of that semester.

In time, however, I began to form new bonds that were even stronger than the ones I had lost over the pandemic, in turn helping alleviate the feelings of isolation. Indeed, eventually the pandemic began to wind down somewhat as the vaccines rolled out and some sense of normality began to be restored to campus. It was around this time, starting at the tail end of my Sophomore year and then going on to Junior year, where I think I truly began to hit my stride. I was socializing more with the lifting of the rest of the COVID restrictions, I was becoming more involved in many groups on campus, and of course, I started to write for the weekly. I felt like an active member of the campus community.

Senior year has been a little bit different. A lot of the people I was close with wound up graduating ahead of me and it’s pretty difficult to make entirely new friends with less than a year left of schooling. I also had to pull back from several organizations on campus to focus more on academic work as well as planning for my future beyond college. Despite this, however, I’m still pretty satisfied with how my senior year has gone, I think it’s kind of natural to become a bit detached from school when you’re so close to leaving it. 

Overall, I’m quite proud of how I’ve done at Gustavus. I was incredibly nervous about going off to college but I think I handled it about as well as I could have, given all the circumstances that surrounded these tumultuous four years. I grew a lot here and learned a great deal about the world and about myself. There were many setbacks, yes, but there were also significant accomplishments and moments of great happiness. I expect that when I look back on my years at Gustavus, my thoughts will be quite positive with my experiences here forming a bedrock for how I will live my life going forward.