Off-campus, students yearn for normal life


Laura Mielke

Students clamor for a return to normal – when the cafeteria will again be bustling with activity.

Whether or not they will wear a face mask in class, many PNW students are dying to get their off-campus lives back to normal.

“I’ve been trying to get my life back to normal since I heard that COVID cases have decreased in the state,” said Marshawn Washington, a senior Business major. “Going to the movies and going out without a mask gives me a sense of normalcy and makes me feel comfortable to be out in the world again.” 

Washington is like many students who see the pandemic threat diminishing. As of last week, Indiana reported that the 7-day positivity rate for COVID tests was about 2.5%, a fraction of what it was in December. 

Students trying to get their lives back to normal are now doing things that they couldn’t do then, like going to movie theaters and restaurants. 

Laura Riggle, a senior Communication major and is a manager at AMC Theaters in Schererville, said crowds are returning. 

“I do think people are trying to make things feel more normal,” she said. “There are times where … our guests will express to us how it’s nice to be back at the movies and how it gives them a sense of normalcy.

 “I think people miss being able to do the things they used to do before COVID hit,” she said. “I feel that, for most people, going to the movies is a nice escape from what is currently going on in the world.” 

And, she said, people are relaxing their use of masks when they can.

 “I would say there are far more people who don’t wear masks than there are people who wear them when they come to the movie theatres,” she said. “But we are still following the CDC guidelines though to make sure everyone is safe. No vaccine means no maskless face.” 

Gabriella Castro is just happy to hang out with friends again.

“When it comes to trying to get back to normal, I just try to do the things that I did before the pandemic started, like going out with groups of friends to fun places like the bowling alley, restaurants,” she said. 

Casto admits that she is more relaxed about masking up.

 “It depends on where I’m going or where I am at,” she said. “If I’m in a crowded and tight space, a mask will be on my face. I’ll be maskless if it’s the opposite.” 

Washington just wants to take the edge off life.

“If I can get my days somewhat back to normal, then I’ll feel like the world is okay to be out in again and everything is well,” he said.