By Maddie Harms

As a Senior, it has been pretty tough to leave everything I knew and loved about Bethel so suddenly. There are so many things that I wanted to enjoy one last time before graduating and leaving Bethel for good; things and people, to which and whom I wanted to say a proper goodbye.

I will miss the beautiful campus. The dock I used to come to often, before it was blocked by construction. The long, leisurely, solitary walks I used to take. The nature trail, especially the way it looks in October, when the maple trees show off their vibrant reds and oranges. Sem Hill, and the big oak tree I used to sit underneath—or sometimes, lie underneath, looking up into the branches—thinking, praying, sometimes studying, sometimes letting the nature around me calm my soul when the semester was getting stressful. Goodbye, campus.

I will miss the library. The slow meanderings among the shelves. Finding and cracking open ancient, musty, beautiful books that must be anywhere up to a hundred years old; smelling the smell of old book pages, admiring archaic typefaces and illustrations. Checking out more books than I could possibly finish before the due date, my desire to read much greater than the amount of free time in my tight schedule. Goodbye, library.

I will miss my favorite study spot: the large, deep window on the second floor of the CLC, just outside the doors to the Benson Great Hall balcony. Practically a window seat, this was my haunt for much of my senior year. Silent, hidden away, small—the perfect spot for an introvert to get alone. There I would eat my packed lunch, study, do some drawing, and watch people coming and leaving the CLC doors below. Goodbye, quiet spaces.

I will miss the Art and Design Department. Here, I learned so many things. I grew. I was challenged. I gained experience. I found joy in creating. I learned from incredible professors, and met amazing people who soon became friends. Here, I made so many memories that I will never forget—of sitting at a table in Brushaber Commons, having lunch with a few girls from my Senior Sem class, eagerly brainstorming together about our projects. Or that one Saturday afternoon when a few of us went out for brunch, then to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Or that feeling of joy that we all felt after the senior thesis exhibition, hugging and congratulating each other, relieved that our hard, careful work was complete. I had waited for something like this my whole life: Fellowship with others around creating. Here, I found that missing piece. Goodbye, Art and Design Department.

I will miss all the amazing people I have gotten to know here at Bethel. I will miss all the good conversations, the laughter, the jokes, the fun times, and meeting at the Royal Grounds for coffee. I will miss going to the design lab and running into friends, hanging out as we work on our projects late into the night. I will miss Clarion meetings, with all of us crammed into that tiny newsroom, planning for the next issue. I will miss the priceless, but simple act of togetherness. Goodbye, friends (in person).

I wish I could go back, but the only way I can go is forward. Life goes on, yet in a different way. The semester goes on. Friendships, studying, and creating continue on.

My days, while lacking the energy, excitement, and variety of being on campus, are quiet, more flexible, and generally, restful. A lot of my time is spent in my room—mostly studying, but also drawing, reading, creating, connecting with friends online, and listening to a lot of music.

While I terribly miss face-to-face interaction with people, I am thankful for the many ways to stay in touch with others. Online meetings, whether Clarion meetings or classes via Zoom, are often the highlight of my week—it is so good to see my friends’ faces and hear their voices, even if it is through a screen. While the loneliness is real, I find that it surprisingly isn’t as severe as I thought it would be.

With online learning, my schedule is more flexible, allowing me to get more sleep than I normally would, and to have a little more margin in my life to do things I enjoy. And honestly, sitting at my desk at home, or even on my bed, is way more comfortable than sitting in a classroom.

I still take walks, usually around my unusually quiet neighborhood, Como Park, and most recently, the nature trails near Lake Johanna.

Although the only people I can see in person are my parents and siblings, I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be quarantined with. When we’re not working or studying, we watch movies in the evenings, we blast music while washing dishes, we take walks, and go for rides sometimes, just to get out of the house for a while.

Sure, there are things I really miss about Bethel. But I am finding that this season at home has so many good things as well. While I’m here at home, I intend to fully embrace this season I’m in. I will grow. I will gain new experiences. I will make new memories. I will grow closer to my family. It’s okay to look back, and it’s okay to miss the past. But I won’t let looking back rob me of being able to enjoy the good things I have right here, right now, at home.

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