One Socially Distant U: The Freshman Experience
With my senior year of high school cut short, me and thousands of other students were left unaware of how our first semester in college would go. As a freshman, coming into a new environment is already a nerve wracking experience. Having to make new friends, meet new teachers, and learn new material is all difficult to get used to. With the COVID-19 pandemic, getting settled into this new environment has been significantly more difficult.
With most of my classes being online, I was lucky enough to be able to have an in-person class during this semester. The class, although small and socially distanced, was something for me to look forward to. I was excited to see other students in person as opposed to through a computer screen. My singular in-person class was one of the few experiences I’ve had this semester that allowed me to really get out there and meet new people. In fact, it was in this class that I learned about Gravity Magazine. As someone who loves to write, I took this as an opportunity to become involved in a school organization. Rodney Michel, a freshman psychology major, is one of many students who have decided to also take classes on campus. Michel described the experience as “great”, going on to state that, “I’ve made some friends here and there and I’ve participated wherever I can in my in-person classes.”
Furthermore, I appreciated the effort to make virtual programming more exciting. I attended an exciting commuter student orientation on Zoom this summer, and still actively watch Frost School of Music’s virtual concerts. Some students, in fact, experienced the semester fully online with zero in-person components. Allyson Turino, a freshman English major, was forced to do remote learning because of the ramifications of COVID-19. Even through remote learning, Turino and many other students stayed involved.
As a freshman, being new to the school gave me an urge to find new people to connect with. Making friends is what really shapes each person’s college experience. That being said, the urge to go out and meet new people was still there, even during a time where socializing in person has been made difficult. David Shannon, a freshman from Baltimore, believes that connecting with new people defined his first year of college: “I would say most of my highlights this semester are derived from the community of black people I met. Coming from a predominantly white high school, it was really welcoming to surround myself with such a diverse group of people who share similar cultures/experiences with me. Some specific highlights would be going to UBS’s Rally for Black Lives, participating in a March for the Justice of Breonna Taylor off campus, and taking the metro to explore the city of Miami with my friends.”
This semester was interesting, to say the least. Because of the growing number of COVID cases, I have yet to decide whether or not I want to take in-person classes next semester or stay remote. Part of me wants to meet new people in person while another part of me worries about the risks that may bring. Overall, I believe freshmen are staying hopeful and optimistic for this upcoming semester.
With the hope of fewer COVID cases in the future, I, like many other freshmen, are hoping that our second semester won’t be as difficult as our first. In becoming more accustomed to the school and distance learning, I hope to have more opportunities next semester to make new friends, enjoy on-campus events, and feel at home at the U.
REPORTER: Katya Gutierrez
Photos courtesy of Landon Coles & UM Communications
THE CITY, Gravity Magazine, 2020