As I reflect on Spring 2021, I realize that some aspects of my life remained the same, and others have changed for the better. For me, Spring 2021 was another semester of fully online courses. While it was not the semester I would have chosen for myself, my fall online classes made me more familiar with my own learning style and better equipped me to do well in my spring courses. It remained difficult to build relationships with my professors and my classmates, but I am looking forward to the coming semesters when I will be able to return to a classroom once again.

As a Florida Cicerone, I saw more shifts back to “normalcy.” This meant optional limited attendance at in-person general body meetings, socially distanced in-person socials, and an outdoor, socially distanced mentor/mentee reveal. After more than a year, I even got the chance to give a tour again!

I’ve also had the opportunity to see more friends this semester. In our free time, we’ve taken advantage of socially distanced settings and outdoor spaces around Gainesville. I’m a big fan of the downtown Gainesville area and a particular favorite place of mine has been Depot Park, which has circles painted in the grass to help people keep a safe distance and plenty of space to stretch out and catch up with friends. I also love the ambiance of the 4th Ave Food Park and the Opus Airstream bus.

Perhaps my greatest joy this semester has been adopting my cat, Emmitt. He was five months old when I adopted him and had spent his entire life with his mother and siblings, so it took him a little while to get acclimated to his new environment. However, after a few weeks with me in Gainesville, he has become a great pal. In moments when I find myself needing a break from Zoom classes and online work, I need only to turn to Emmitt for a boost of happiness.

Overall, this semester has taught me that different can still be good. Of course, I would have loved to have in-person classes or more opportunities to spend time with friends, but that was not what this semester had in store for me. Instead, I’ve learned to find the beauty in the little things, like Zoom calls with loved ones, impromptu recharge day beach trips, and the soft purr of my cat in my lap. As I look forward to the coming semesters when more students will be vaccinated and COVID restrictions will be relaxed, I know that I will still recall Spring 2021 with a smile.