One aspect of the pandemic that has challenged many college students is having to live and work in a single space. First-year Madeline Gibson, for instance, has always felt shaped by the place where she lives — and having all aspects of her life in her dorm room has been mentally taxing.
“All of my surroundings very much influence my emotions and the way I’m able to present myself and express how I’m feeling," Gibson said. "When I do all of those things in one place, it’s extremely difficult for me."
In pre-pandemic times, one-room life with a roommate was customary for college students. However, the many outlets offered then for eating, studying and exercising are not an option for students right now.
Now that UNC has limited on-campus housing to single rooms, students are navigating being alone in their spaces. Even without a roommate, Gibson said she has been struggling to separate her school life from her personal one.
“It’s honestly very difficult for me,” Gibson said. “I would honestly go a couple of days without leaving my room last semester."
First-year Jackie Stoehr said while the lack of a roommate gave her options for storage — including room for a “food desk” and a Harry Styles wall — life in her Hinton James Residence Hall dorm room still seems cluttered.
“I made a couch area with extra blankets and pillows and I use the storage under the bed. And I use both closets entirely,” Stoehr said.
Stoehr also played into pandemic life with a mask nook and hand sanitizer display, but she said nothing can replace human interaction.
“It can be pretty lonely though," she said. "I take a lot of naps — because what else are you gonna do?”