Students weigh in on academic environment, health before Thanksgiving break

By Jonathan Yao

As Emerson students approach Thanksgiving break, they anticipate both the challenges of the coming winter months as well as their own plans.

Sophomore visual and media arts major Jonah Hodari feels confident in his schoolwork, however, the prospect of the coming winter months makes him sad. 

“A big part of my friends’ and I’s day was going to [Beacon] Hill and watching the sunset,” he said.

Hodari is concerned COVID-19 cases will rise as outdoor activity winds down and people stay indoors. He worries people will mistake COVID-19 for the common cold and ignore it, further spreading the virus. Emerson College shifted its model to symptomatic-only testing at the end of the Spring 2022 semester, removing the weekly testing that was present for over two years of COVID-19. The college has similar infection rates to most other Boston campuses, according to the Boston Public Health Department, but many students are still reporting sick.

“There’s going to be a rise, of course, in colds, but I think people will start confusing COVID for colds and that definitely could go a negative route,” he said.

According to the City of Boston, COVID-19 metrics have decreased across the board, yet a little over 20% of the city still remains unvaccinated. 

For others, the time leading up to the break is positive for their mental health. Lauren Babin, a senior visual media arts major, said the final few months of Emerson have put her in the “home stretch.”

“Most of the tough stuff is behind me,” said Babin. “It’s time to go easier, I feel.”

Astrid Ortega, another senior and public relations major, feels the same way. She also believes Thanksgiving break can be deceptive for students, as there are still assignments to do before the end of the semester.

“In the back of my head, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to be due in two weeks after Thanksgiving break,’” said Ortega. “It’s gonna catch up with me and that’s kind of making me anxious.”

Other students are raising concern over the assignments leading up to break instead. Matthew Tucker, a senior sports communications major, said he is preparing for things to get harder, not easier.

“I feel like the second half of the year is much harder than the first half,” Tucker said. 

Tucker believes that for a lot of classes, the “learning” phase of the semester is done, causing professors to rev up the projects and assignments. He also believes in seizing every moment with his friends that he can get before the semester closes.

Despite this, he advises fellow students to focus on what matters. 

“It’s just a grade at the end of the day,” he said. “As long as you pass and feel like you learned something and are able to apply it next to wherever you go in life, that’s all that matters.”

Besides schoolwork, many students are looking forward to the break as a chance to leave campus and see their families again. Charlie Bickham, a freshman journalism major, will return home to Colorado to see his family over the break.

“I’m going to ski a lot because I’m back home,” said Bickham.

Bickham prepared in advance for the Thanksgiving break, working out assignment times with his professors so he can spend a little longer back home.

Bickham’s friend and sports communications major Colin McSherry will stay with family in Boston instead, but is already preparing for the end of semester and the longer break after it.

“It’ll be kind of a straight shot to the end of the semester,” said McSherry. “We have roughly two weeks [left].”

McSherry is already ready for the finals of his first semester.

“We’re already prepping in advance right now, so I think it’ll be easily done.”