Campus Diaries: “People need to be more careful, because some of us are trying to protect our loved ones”
Memoirs from the weirdest university year ever
Who: Olivia Drava, 21
What: Business, second year
Where: Trent University
Hometown: Toronto and Niagara
In first year, I lived on campus, and only three of the main residences were open. We weren’t allowed to have anyone in our room, and we couldn’t even socialize in the cafeteria. I’m back in res for another year because I thought I could give my first-year experience another try.
The beginning of the year was great—the campus opened up, and there were people out and about. The parties were everywhere, but people were careful about posting anything, because they didn’t want to have a run-in with the authorities. During homecoming this year, the streets were full—people were wandering from house to house and drinking, even day drinking. I’m not much of a partier, so I volunteered to be a designated driver for my friends, and I watched from the sidelines. A lot of students I talked to couldn’t remember what they did the night before; the next day, they just kept on drinking.
After homecoming, people started going to clubs and off-campus house parties to continue releasing all this pent-up energy from being locked down for so long. Social media plays a big part in this, because everyone’s always on it, and when they see people posting about parties, they get FOMO. On an Instagram account called Canadian Party Life, where people from different schools post photos and videos of parties, I’ve seen trends coming out of different universities. Dal was known for people jumping off poles and trees; Guelph was known for pushing people in shopping carts. At Trent, people were jumping off porch roofs onto other people.
A lot of this stuff is inevitable. I think we’re all trying to forget the pandemic is happening, and we’re also trying to forget about the stress of school. But I feel that people need to be more careful, because some of us are trying to protect our loved ones. Homecoming was right before Thanksgiving, and a lot of the people I was seeing for Thanksgiving were either elderly or otherwise at-risk. I took a Covid test before that, because I didn’t want to ruin Thanksgiving by putting my relatives’ health in danger.
After Omicron hit, Trent moved its exams online. That allowed me to go home early, which was nice, but if classes stay online, I’ll be really frustrated. Last time the school went virtual, it was hard to meet people. Now, I have good friends and we’re struggling through our academics together. We’re trying to get a handle on time management, meeting deadlines, seeking help for assignments, getting good grades and learning to advocate for ourselves. That’s a lot, even without a pandemic in the mix. It’s been amazing to make new friends and create memories with them. Plus, we help each other with our mental health. And with a friend group, you feel as if you have a rock of support.
This story appears in the February 2022 issue of Toronto Life magazine. To subscribe for just $24.99 a year, click here.