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Pondering with Patterson: A seemingly normal fall semester sendoff

The home stretch is in sight, and Thanksgiving break is right around the corner. Typically, this point of the semester feels a bit like the beginning of the end. Everything is happening all at once; midterms are done and finals are already rapidly approaching. It’s a stressful period, and what is perhaps more stressful is the idea that leaving for break will be met with coming back to the final week of classes: a phenomenon certainly easier to forget about over the course of the ongoing pandemic. 

A usual, familiar pattern of examinations followed by release is here again. Navigating through this period of the semester is not without difficulty, especially due to the fact that it’s somehow happening the exact same way as before but is able to feel so very different. The period of coming back for the final week and examinations after Thanksgiving break has even been compared to the last lap in Mario Kart due to the similar stress it is paired with.

Last year around this time, many of us were taking classes mostly, if not completely, virtually. In an effort to further reduce contact, former Ohio University President Duane Nellis issued a statement in June 2020 announcing that the final day of in-person classes would be Nov. 20, 2020. This statement also shared that both the final portion of instruction and the examination period were being held virtually. This early departure alongside examinations online certainly was able to take a load off and break up the typical break, exams, break structure.

This year, this structure is back in full swing. No Thanksgiving changes were made to the university calendar, indicating that the academic semester would pretty much carry on with business as usual. There are more students back on campus, and Athens is full of life. Many classes continue to meet in person at least once a week, with plans of in-person examinations remaining strong. Expectations run high, and the familiar feelings of a “normal” chaotic end of fall semester are present. 

While those of us who were here last year are familiar with the feeling of losing fall break and it being replaced by wellness days, or of virtual examinations, this hybrid semester manages to feel a bit unlike any other. Everyone seems to be experiencing the “typical” stress alongside all of the added continuous discoveries of hybrid entailments. 

Steps in the right direction have been made to get here, but it is not without a loss of amenities. With such losses, the importance of taking care of both yourself and those around you is essential to finish out this fall semester. 

Lauren Patterson is a junior studying journalism. Please note that the views and ideas of columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Lauren? Tweet her @lpaatt.

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