APU students are learning to adapt to the new changes and challenges that being back on campus poses.

APU students returned this semester to a completely different environment than the one they were once familiar with. It’s no secret that our lives drastically changed this past year because of the pandemic. What once was normal is now completely different. Facing changes on campus, in our classes and among our relationships with others has been challenging. Since my return to campus, I definitely have experienced the challenges of readjusting to change and I know I am not the only one. 

 A lot of my classmates whom I previously knew during my first two years at APU graduated during the remote school year. Some of my friends chose to move on to different colleges or other programs outside of school. It is strange coming back to a place where there were once so many familiar faces and finding that it is no longer the same. I adjusted by focusing on the friendships I still do have and how I can create new experiences with them here on campus.

There were also some notable changes in regards to classes. Some classes with a higher occupancy took to moving their sessions to an outside environment. This allows for more space and the option to not wear a mask. Classes both inside and outside look different with smaller sizes. Senior music major Amina Bolden expressed how different it is to wear a mask during choir rehearsals. 

“I recognize the importance of our health and safety so I am thankful that the school is taking the steps to care for our well-being. [However], not being able to have the full musical experience has detracted from my campus experience,” says Bolden. “The music still sounds great but I know it is taking away from the quality and fullness of our sound as a group.” 

Other changes on campus concern the community gathering spaces, campus services and dining options. The libraries on East and West Campus are open but there is less space because of the need for social distancing. With the number of students choosing to work in the library, the printing stations now allow for contactless printing through an app on your phone or computer. 

The continuation of online chapel remains an option for students who wish to watch from their phone or computer. I appreciate this because it is difficult to find time in my schedule to attend chapel in person. Keeping the option of watching chapel online has helped me a lot and I think they should maintain this protocol that allows for students to do what they are most comfortable with.

The renovation of Heritage Court on West Campus has caused it to become temporarily shut down for the time being. This has impacted students who enjoyed gathering with others and eating there, as it was as much a place to socially connect as it was to dine. This community gathering place is temporarily closed to students, limiting West Campus dining options down to Sam’s Subs and Hillside Grounds. This has been difficult for commuters who relied on Heritage Court to rest and eat. 

I rely heavily on locations on campus for me to rest, do homework, eat and catch up with friends in between classes since I am unable to go home,” said senior social work major Nicole Reyes.  

Reyes said she wished the school completed the construction while students were not on campus. The current construction limits options for those who need a place to relax in between classes or stop for a bite to eat.

On East Campus, The 1899 Dining Hall remained closed for the first few months of school and the Cougars’ Den Cafe no longer offers options such as pasta and salad. Though the 1899 Dining Hall has announced it will be opening in phases beginning October 16, full dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are not projected to be offered until November 3rd. This is only if everything goes to plan in phase one, which offers students brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and phase two, which will expand to offering students breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Furthermore, what once was the classic Starbucks Coffeehouse on Cougar Walk is now Shalom Cafe. Though Shalom Cafe serves minimal Starbucks products, according to junior marketing major Luke Rundell there has been an obvious change in the quality. 

“I feel like the campus is a lot less than it was [my] freshman year. The biggest changes I noticed were with food, and everything seems downsized and cheaper,” said Rundell. 

Another aspect of campus dining that first changed in February of 2020 is APU’s partnership with Grubhub. This app is extremely helpful in limiting the capacity of people inside while also being a convenient option to skip the lines.

I have seen lots of changes throughout my time at APU. They try to make different improvements to the school, but they never seem to be in the best interests of the students,” said Reyes. 

Change can be overwhelming and from the students’ perspectives, many believe that a huge part of their lives have significantly changed. It can be a challenge to understand why APU chooses to change aspects of campus that were once so simple and normal for students.

Adapting to all these changes while dealing with the normal stress of school has been difficult, but I have enjoyed being back on campus. I really missed it and though it does not feel the exact same way as before, it has helped me learn to understand that nothing will ever remain the same forever. Different does not automatically mean bad and I have to remind myself that even if it feels hard now, it won’t always be that way. 

While the transition has been tough, it has been uplifting to be back on campus and attending  classes alongside my friends and peers. I think students are all grateful for the opportunity to be back, despite how different APU now is. There is still a long way to go in the return to normal, but with the patience and strength to push for the changes we want to see on our campus, I have hope that we will get there soon.