Arts & Culture

Liliana Palmer on Campus Life During the Pandemic

Preble Hall a Photo by Liliana Palmer

Southern Maine Community College has two wonderful campuses that are easy to navigate and amazing faculty members, however due to the pandemic many things have changed, especially for the students.

In the following interview, reporter Keannah Breault asks Liliana Palmer, a student living on campus, how her life was affected by the changes the pandemic caused.

I want to bring attention to the work SMCC has done as well as how depression and anxiety has affected people through this experience because they aren’t alone in this.

KB: So, tell me a little bit about yourself, […] What degree are you pursuing?

LP: I’m a Communications & New Media major, hoping to find work in graphic design. I’ve always wanted to do something visual-artsy, for lack of a better phrase, and graphic design seemed like a good way to make a living rather than just sitting around hoping for a chance to work in some kind of media to come along. I’ve been at SMCC since graduating high school in 2019, which is a strange feeling. I saw a lot of the changes firsthand. I’m debating between completing a dual major or just wrapping up my CNMS degree. I planned on transferring when I first enrolled, but that seems less likely these days.

KB: Like so many others attending this school Palmer enrolled to follow her passion, whether a student’s goal is to be a lawyer, teacher, or musician they all share one thing in common: the drive and determination to stay strong. Stress and anxiety has flooded the students enrolled in schools all across the world. Work ethic and emotional dilemmas are just some of the effects suffered. 

LP: Learning to properly use commercial printers was a major part of my classes in my first two semesters, but online classes make it really difficult to do that work. 

KB: Learning to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic has become an essential, LP: My professors did a very good job of adapting, but the Fall 2020 semester was so brutal just because of the pandemic it was very difficult to focus on anything at all.

KB: At SMCC campus life has changed, there were new rules and regulations to follow, but SMCC was strict in these changes and for good reason. They value the safety and security of everyone that’s enrolled, it’s important to recognise how much SMCC has done for those attending. Students moving into the dorms were required to do the following

LP: Before moving in, we had a stack of paperwork to read through and a ZOOM meeting with everyone who was going to move in. SMCC absolutely insisted on proof of vaccination for everyone […] required to download the student app […] Each day, you have to take questionnaires from QR codes around campus that ask you standard COVID symptom questions, […] Masks were mandated at all times in all places on campus. 

KB: At the start of the pandemic many students were stuck on campus as a measure of quarantining and as this pandemic continues it’s no surprise that many have decided to stay on campus. It is stressful not only having to worry about yourself but also your family. Everyone has their own reason for staying on campus, it’s a decision that in most cases takes the support of those closest to us. 

LP: I wanted to live on campus from the start, but I was concerned about the cost. […] I hoped the pandemic was ending and I wanted to take the chance while I still had it, […] I felt more isolated before moving on-campus. […] ultimately my family supported the idea.

KB: Distance can be a difficult thing for people, especially students. With the lower enrollment and online classes at SMCC, the campus has become quieter. It’s easy for feelings of isolation and loneliness to affect us. Clubs were cancelled due to low membership and throughout an average day living on campus not a lot of people were around. Online classes have become normal while many other things have remained closed. 

LP: Being able to wander around campus is definitely a great part of living there, so I’m outside whenever possible. […] It’s really sad […] I miss being able to wander through the campus center and come out the other side having signed political petitions, picked up brochures, talked to people, and torn off slips for job offers. There used to be a ton of activists handing things out from tables and making their pitches, and they gave the place a lot of life.

KB: Over the course of the pandemic, what other aspects of life and the world have changed? 

LP: […]The hills and fields have gone wild and become overgrown during the pandemic […]”. 

KB: It is important in times like these to remember your neighbor, there are people that are having a hard time adjusting emotionally to this changing world. Prolonged loneliness can lead to depression and it goes without saying that this is the truth whether or not students live on campus. 

LP: Over the course of the pandemic I heard some tragic things and I’ve seen the pandemic take a toll on pretty much everyone I know, including me. I get the feeling sometimes everyone’s kinda aching. It’s definitely been a lonely time.

KB: SMCC faculty has done a wonderful job in helping the student body stay motivated and keeping online classes intriguing. 

LP: In the first few weeks there were a lot of events. One high point of that time was the CNMS department’s decision to just go around asking professional graphic designers […] if they’d take the time to speak to us […] Several did. That doesn’t happen every day, and it was incredibly surreal. I’m very glad we got that chance. 

(To those that have considered living on campus…) It’s tough, but it’s worth it because it gives you opportunities. I’d say attend as many clubs and activities as possible, talk to people from different majors, take interesting and totally unexpected classes for your non-major credits, use the free bus access, wander around, and look for where things are happening. The best part of SMCC is the sheer variety of things being studied and the variety of people studying them, so explore and bother people. That’s why I decided to write for the Beacon, and although it’s helped me in all semesters, it’s especially important now because COVID has destroyed our social connections. These days, it’s very easy to get caught in a cycle of doing work in an empty room somewhere and not knowing how to get out, so mess around and find out what piques your interest first before the grind starts up and makes it hard to think about anything else.

Categories: Arts & Culture

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