Illustration by Amelia Madarang

First-year reflects on challenges, newfound strength from hybrid academic term

When the pandemic struck, everything I expected to get out of my first semester of college went out the window. I did not come to college expecting to stay for longer than a couple of weeks. When the Fall 2020 semester began, stories had been pouring in from all over the country about colleges sending students home or canceling all in-person classes.

Despite this, in late August, I decided that I should at least try to attend college in person and I was given an opportunity to have in-person classes and online classes — something that many of my friends were not offered. I packed my bags and flew across the country to a place I had never been to. I did not really know what to expect. Certainly, I never expected it to be normal.

One of the hardest adjustments  for me was not being able to see anyone’s face. Everything was online at first, which was really hard for me to do. Zoom fatigue was real. We were required to spend a large amount of time in their rooms watching hours of Zoom calls a day. I had never spent that much time on Zoom, so the first day of classes was very difficult for me. 

I met all of my classmates through a computer screen. While what we did in class was not that different than it would have been under normal circumstances, everything felt so disconnected. There were no conversations after class or the excitement I felt in years past at school. It was difficult to feel comfortable around people that I did not know. The Lewis & Clark campus at times felt exciting and new, but I also felt cut off. I could not see people smile when they walked past me. I did not feel comfortable enough to wave at people I did not know. Instead of feeling welcomed, I felt alone.

I was stuck in my small room, and I hardly knew anyone on campus apart from my roommate. At the time when we were supposed to make friends and be around people, we were suddenly cut off from others on campus. The smoke and the quarantined shutdown of certain dorms made it even harder to connect with others . When you come to college you have this idea of how it is going to be and how you are going to meet all these new people and do all of these new fun things. For me, all of those ideas were lost once the pandemic hit.  

It had become clear to me that meeting people was not going to be easy. So I joined clubs and I went to online events. I tried to go on walks between classes. I had to learn to adjust in my own way and find new ways to meet people. 

The campus restrictions have been hard to live with. But a lot of people have adjusted to these difficult circumstances. I think that slowly and over time, I started to get to know the people in my classes and started to have conversations with them. I started speaking up at club meetings. I started to feel more comfortable. While I feel like it took a lot of time to adjust to our new situation, it eventually happened. 

At LC, I understand all of the restrictions in place are necessary in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and I appreciate what the campus has done to prioritize our safety above all else. However, I also feel like there could be more socially distanced events. I think being around people, even socially distanced, really helps.

Overall, I think this semester is another thing that we have had to adjust to in our new lives. I think the semester went as well as it could have with the pandemic. We are not the same people we were at the beginning of the pandemic. We are stronger, we are better. We have learned we are capable of dealing with the difficulties that we face in life, and in turn we grow into greater people. In the end, I am glad I came to campus and I take pride in becoming part of the LC community.

This article presents opinions held by the author, not those of The Pioneer Log and its editorial board.

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