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Senior spring take 2

| Thursday, March 26, 2020

On March 5, I published a bucket list of sorts for my senior spring. In what quickly became one of the greatest jinxes I have ever pulled off, it has become clear to me that I will not be able to accomplish all of these goals this spring. I may never set foot in Hesburgh Library again, but neither will anyone else for the foreseeable future. However, it is still senior spring. If your professors have even a modicum of understanding, your classes are probably even easier than they were before spring break. It is still time for a bucket list. 

Of course, writing this version of my bucket list is even sadder than the last one. I have no idea when I will see my Notre Dame friends again. Commencement is unlikely to go on as scheduled. Talented Notre Dame athletes were robbed of their seasons, and we were robbed of the joy of watching our teams compete. It looks like my big graduation gift will be a recession. But for now, we are still college students. It is still time to have fun, even if that fun must be much more socially responsible. To that end, I present my updated guide to senior spring.

Love in the time of COVID

Did you travel back to your high school home due to the closing of the dorms? Are you listening to “Marvin’s Room” on repeat while desperately waiting for ND Match 2020 to pair you with your one true love from Domer Fest 2016? Do not let a national emergency stand in the way of you and love. Utilize Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Zoom, Canvas, Craigslist or Sakai to find hot singles in your area dying to meet you. Haven’t you always wondered what that one cute boy from freshman geometry has been up to since dropping out of high school? Have no fear, he can easily be found on Tinder. We all remember the summer of 2016 when Pokémon Go was all the rage. Now it is spring of 2020, and dating apps are the hot way to collect them all. Compare matches with your friends and see who can catch ‘em all. And while swiping is as much physical contact as you can have until social distancing is no longer necessary, most jobs and graduate schools do not start until July or August. That leaves you plenty of time to meet up with your virtual matches from your hometown. You will have a hell of a “meet-cute” story to tell your kids.

Zoom virtual background 

Zoom is the logical conclusion of the path I was set on in high school when my chemistry teacher would text us homework on snow days. No longer are the youth of this nation granted true days off for weather, pandemics or Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Now, we have assignments uploaded digitally, are required to “attend” class via Zoom and are given an extended lunch break to honor our nation’s greatest civil rights leader. But Zoom can be made more enjoyable. While your Theo 101 professor spends five minutes asking your class if you can hear him, might I suggest checking out the virtual background feature built into the program? This tool allows you to use built-in graphics or upload a photo of your own and replace your boring bedroom walls with this new background like special effects in a feature film. If you use the green screen option, Zoom will project your background of choice over any green surface visible on your webcam. Conveniently, most Notre Dame students own copious amounts of green apparel. Upload your funniest safe-for-work photo, put on your brightest green shirt and flex your newfound Zoom prowess on your classes with pride.

Replace “The Rock” with a rock 

Knute Rockne Memorial Gymnasium and the Smith Center in Duncan Student Center are two excellent workout facilities that you may no longer access. If your state’s government is the least bit responsible, you cannot go to the local YMCA or Planet Fitness anymore either. Notre Dame has long been known for its in-shape student body. From baseball to ballet, basketball to bowling, seemingly everyone on this campus was a varsity athlete of some kind. Working out while social distancing can be a challenge. The Walmart Supercenter in South Bend is sold out of dumbbells and benches. Many states are closing parks and beaches to prevent crowds. It is time to put a liberal arts education to the test and get creative with your workout equipment. Is your little brother still a few years away from his growth spurt? He will make a great bench press. Does your dad keep decorative rocks in the family garden? Try having them all change places. Your sister won’t miss her spare tire for a few weeks because she cannot drive anywhere anyway, so take it and flip it around in your driveway a few times. Every time someone on Zoom tries to talk with their microphone muted, do five push-ups. 

 Write a Letter to the Editor (again)

As has been scientifically proven beyond a doubt, Viewpoint remains the best section of The Observer. It might not surprise my readers that I still want you all to write Letters to the Editor. The vast majority of you are home with your families are very bored. I can only imagine the hot-take potential these letters could have. Next time you are awake at 3:12 a.m. watching “The Office” for the 15th time, press pause and open your computer, phone, journal or papyrus scroll. Do you think social distancing is an overreaction or a conspiracy to destroy our economy? Perhaps instead you are positive hospital patients with coronavirus are crisis actors paid by George Soros. If that is the case, drink some water, go to bed and keep those opinions to yourself, forever. If, however, you have any other perspective you wish to share with the paper, please do. I want to hear what it is like to take classes on Zoom for students in different time zones or with irregular internet access. I want to know how COVID-19 impacts a family where both the parents are medical workers or grocery store clerks. We are a Notre Dame family, and this is a hard time for all of us. Share your story, and lean on the community for support. 

As with my last guide to senior spring, it is possible none of these options sound appealing to you. If you have figured out better ways to spend your time socially distanced, please send me an email or tweet. I have resorted to cleaning my room for entertainment between Zoom sessions. Stay inside, stay safe and stay strong. The class of 2020 will be together again.

Ben Testani is a senior studying international economics, Arabic and Spanish. He comes to Notre Dame via Central New York and while currently residing off-campus, will always be a proud Alumni Dawg. He welcomes feedback at [email protected] or @BenTestani on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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