Students adjust to a quieter, socially distant life in Evanston


Courtesy of Aditi Ghei

Weinberg sophomore Aditi Ghei said she’s been taking advantage of the early fall weather to walk along Lake Michigan. Like many other students living off-campus this quarter, Ghei is making an effort to socialize outdoors and in small groups.

Maia Pandey, Reporter

Weinberg sophomore Aditi Ghei was on a flight to Evanston and ready to move into the Zeta Tau Alpha house when Northwestern announced that Greek housing, along with all other on-campus housing, was canceled this fall for most underclassmen.

In response to the August news, Ghei pivoted quickly. She paired up with another Zeta member to research apartments and landed a place within the next week. Now, like many other underclassmen who scrambled to find off-campus housing mere days before the quarter began, Ghei is adjusting to a new normal in Evanston.

Even without access to NU buildings and under COVID-19 safety guidelines, living in Evanston again is a relief after spending Spring Quarter at home, Ghei said.

“You feel social, seeing people, doing normal daily things, like you’re independent and an actual college student,” she said. “Being home was just a weird feeling.”

Jo Scaletty, a Communication sophomore living in an apartment off-campus, said they have tried to create a more normal social life by forming a “pod” with their roommate and a few friends. The group gets tested regularly and only socializes in-person with one another.

Still, Scaletty said they miss the casual social interactions of a normal quarter.

“There was the social aspect of bumping into people that you haven’t seen in a while, but now everything is very planned,” Scaletty said. “There’s no room for spontaneity.”

Medill sophomore Chloe Cope is living alone in the Hilton Orrington/Evanston hotel this fall and also chooses to spend her time with a handful of close friends.

After a few COVID-19 scares in the first few weeks of the quarter when Cope feared she could have been exposed to the virus, she had to set stricter boundaries for her social life, she said .

“As much as it kills me because we were all so deprived of social interaction in quarantine, there have definitely been social opportunities where I’ve had to say, ‘No’ and choose to stay with a specific friend group,” Cope said.

Cope and her “pod” of friends take turns hosting a weekly potluck dinner, she said.

While her day-to-day life is still drastically different from a normal quarter, she didn’t want to lose the social and academic momentum she built up freshman year by spending another quarter at home, Cope said.

“I feel we kind of got to cut our losses in terms of our college experience right now, like there are some things that just won’t be the same,” she said. “But this was something that I wanted to do, so I could make the most of what I do have, and so far I am really happy that I’m here.”

Weinberg freshman Zeki Hirsch is also living at the Orrington this fall, along with over 20 other freshmen from around the country. The cohort found each other on GroupMe and Facebook after housing was canceled, then contacted the Orrington to work out a monthly contract giving them a floor to themselves and individual rooms.

Hirsch wanted to move to Evanston for a change of pace, especially after a sputtering end to his senior year of high school, he said.

“The past six months I’ve mentally been in high school,” Hirsch said. “But now I’m finally out of that limbo, and I’m acquainted enough with the campus that I feel like a Northwestern student.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @maiapandey

Related Stories: 

A snapshot of campus during COVID-19

Without a meal plan, underclassmen adjust to cooking for themselves in off-campus housing this quarter

Students find alternatives to stay active on and off-campus