As of 5th of March 2021 I have officially spent more time at Zoom Vassar than pre-pandemic in-person Vassar. Last March at a last minute decision I had decided to go back home for the spring break. All I had with me in my suitcase was a couple of T-shirts and a handful of winter clothes to leave at home. Never had I thought that that would be all I had for a whole year. Of course I left behind clothes, books, notebooks, and shoes, but I would soon realize that I left a life behind of friends, aspirations, opportunities and freedom. College, especially at Vassar, is where you are free to discover what you want, what you need, and where you fit in. There are countless opportunities at your fingertips and to be suddenly stuck between four walls where past demons come to haunt you, life stops being. That’s why you need something to hold on to, something meaningful. So I held onto the memories of my international family and made new ones as an intern.
I spent time with my family at a point in time when I’d accepted that I’d see them very little. This bonus year gave me the opportunity to soak in their presence in my life. I learned to cook alongside my grandmother, and to harvest cucumbers with my grandfather. I painted flower pots with my mother, and played chess with my father. I got the puppy I’ve dreamt of my whole life and reveled in her joy at exploring life for the first time. I got a stolen year.
At times Vassar seemed nothing more than a logo on a website or a poster. I forgot the little things that made Vassar my home. The quick friendly waves while running to class, late night smoothies at the Deece, the ice over Sunset Lake in the winter, the geese that chased me away on my walks and stolen lunch dates with my friends at the Bridge. I forgot. I forgot why I loved this place that was much more than the physical things. I forgot the feeling that anything was possible and was within my reach. The only time I got a resemblance to what I felt during my time at Vassar were in weekly OIS meetings and events. They were an hour long snapshot of the feeling of a different kind of home, safety and potential.
Although I cannot say that I am still 100% sure that I haven’t imagined my time at Vassar and that it never actually happened, I have a feeling once I go back it all may come back. Arriving at Vassar in August will be a bittersweet moment for me. Bitter because I will leave my family behind who made my year survivable. Sweet because maybe even after all that time Vassar will accept me back as it once had. I can’t wait.