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Managing Complex Feelings About a Campus Return

By Lizz Panchyk

As a majority of students have returned to campus this fall semester, the transition has been different for everyone. To help with these complexities, a student forum organized by the Health and Wellness team, “Transitioning to the New Normal: Managing Feelings about Returning to Campus” was held on Oct. 18 to discuss the stress that students have been under during this difficult time of Covid-19 and transitioning back into an on-campus environment. This forum extended a helping hand to students who were concerned or had questions and offered solutions. It included panelists K.C. Rondello, MD, clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing and Public Health and University Epidemiologist; Nicole Gaudino, RN, NP, executive director of University Health and Wellness; Carol Lucas, MSW ’02, PhD ’13, LCSW-R, director of counseling and support services; and Scott Zotto, MSW, LCSW, coordinator of substance abuse counseling and prevention programing.

Gene Palma, vice president of Wellness, Safety and Administration, said they held two forums with a total of more than 150 participants on dealing with feelings about returning to campus this fall, one for faculty and staff and another for students.

“We understand that after more than a year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, many people continue to deal with feelings of stress, uncertainty and fear,” Palma said. “As students return to classrooms, labs and studios and resume participation in co-curricular programs, events and activities such as clubs and organizations, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to learn about how best to care for yourself, how to support the people around you and how to recognize when it’s time to reach out for help. And to that point, we wanted to ensure that all Adelphi community members are aware of the resources that are available to you.”

During the forum, Dr. Lucas provided solutions of how we can properly express our feelings.

“Don’t fight the feelings. Often, we try hard to suppress our emotions,” she said. “Let emotions come and go like waves in an ocean. Feelings are not wrong or right; they are sensations. Avoid resisting them or clutching onto them; let them come and go.”

These words remind us that feeling is perfectly okay. It’s been a rough couple of years and it’s helpful to know that we have support systems right on campus who are available to us whenever we need or want. The transition from in-person to online and then back to in-person took a toll on many so it’s important that they know they can reach out. The Delphian spoke with students who, although they didn’t attend this forum, shared their thoughts on how they’re transitioning back to the “normal” campus lifestyle.

“Ever since transitioning to a physical classroom from being on Zoom university, it has been a very complex experience,” said sophomore Luis Merino. “Although commuting to campus is simple, dealing with this new style of hyperflex modality, it is definitely challenging. The professors try their best to accommodate everyone's needs and requests, but it all boils down to the individual. Myself, for instance, have been dealing with it very well, but it has taken a mental toll on me.”

Megan Wilson, a sophomore, said she prefers being on campus. “I think being in person is less stressful than online learning because it helps me pay attention. I didn’t learn much on Zoom because it wasn’t working for me as a style of learning. And I like seeing people and being immersed into campus activities. Having online classes and hybrid classes during freshman year leading to sophomore year being in person made the transition into college a little easier though.”

Recognizing that the transition might be ongoing for all of us, Dr. Lucas said the Health and Wellness team will host another forum in the spring semester. In the meantime, her office has added more tools for students.

“We’ve partnered with the popular mindfulness app Headspace to offer students a free one-year subscription to Headspace’s science-based meditation and mindfulness tools, which can help support your mental health and make you healthier, happier and less stressed or anxious,” she said.

You can also go to the Student Counseling Center on the first floor of Nexus, the Interfaith Center on the third floor of the Ruth S. Harley University Center, or our Health Services Center on the first floor of Waldo Hall if you need to speak to someone, and these are all confidential areas. Our campus is willing to help our students in every way possible.

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