The New Normal

The Pacifican

By: Alex Abbley

By the time one reaches university, a student can feel like they have seen it all. The things we experience leading up to this level, such as figuring out how to calculate numbers or write elaborative essays have prepared us for all kinds of academic curveballs that life throws our way. When COVID-19 first entered into the equation, the solution appeared to be almost entirely unsolvable. The virus seemed to come out of nowhere, like something out of a Sci-Fi fan sequence, completely unimaginable to us. It is apparent that no amount of educational background could ever foresee the problems that a pandemic could ultimately unravel. The truth of the matter, was that none us saw it coming.

Among other shaky circumstances brought on by the waves of the pandemic, one thing however, did in fact remain stable. Familiarity can often times be an overlooked expression, but in times of hardships, it can be a great source of comfort to many. There was much buzz surrounding the fate of the university setting and what exactly an education in a post-pandemic world would look like. With endless amounts of information coming out every day, it was a daunting reality that many would have to consider, let alone face. Discussions surrounding the overall safety and well-being of faculty, staff, and students was not going to be muted. University of the Pacific not only delivered in providing a sense of community, but was able to create something of a normal education in a not-so-normal situation.

“Normal” can look differently to many, and replicating a strong sense of familiarity would be no easy task. Challenges would arise, but the end result would turn out to be a most rewarding outcome. Being a student at Pacific has been an incredible journey filled with amazing experiences and established connections that have only enhanced the person I am becoming. As a student, crunching numbers and jotting down information for research papers could happen almost anywhere, but a sense of community perhaps, is a rare thing to come by. Transitioning to remote learning has brought forth an enriching experience that has left the classroom and entered computer screens all across the world. During the spring semester, professors from every course
reimagined the environment without ever compromising the strong feeling of belonging. Connection and creativity were still skills that made navigating remote learning feel recognizable as a new routine that would be required for all to adjust around, the “new normal.”

Being an English major, the significance of words truly became more treasured in these troubling times. The need for expression in the form of colloquy and stringing together sentences to analyze works of literature in a classroom still managed to carry on regardless of the setting. I recall early on in the spring semester giving a presentation on the history behind the word, cyber. Ironically, it would become a word turned into a world where I was quite literally learning my education virtually. Even in this setting, communication remained prevalent in Pacific’s mission to deliver community while fulfilling its promise. Being able to engage with my professors and fellow students remained as prominent as ever, if not more. It was humbling to see that despite the storm, our community was perhaps put to a test to see how well we could withstand the conditions. I am confident in saying that Pacific passed with flying colors. Every class session in remote learning produced an opportunity to explore education from the other side of the lens, shifting the perspective by allowing a creative space to see things from another view. The view in question might have not have been an ideal situation, but it was nonetheless a climb Pacific conquered together as one. There are some things in life no amount of planning can prepare us for, but hope remains and that is a future that looks promising.