Before my freshman year of college began, I was excited to come to Temple. I felt optimistic about this new chapter in my life being in a new environment outside my home state, Maryland.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and those plans came to a halt. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get the full college experience all four years. The best I could do was interact with students online.
I’m now in my sophomore year and I’m happy to finally be on campus and taking in-person classes, making friends and being more involved in campus activities.
Being in person, though exciting, is a huge adjustment. Re-learning how to socialize and feel comfortable around people after more than a year of learning virtually makes the transition from online to in-person difficult. However, the transition has been going smoother than I thought and I’m still optimistic about this semester.
In online classes, it was easier not worrying about how I looked because people couldn’t see me. Being in person makes me more self-conscious about how I present myself, because I’ve gotten used to putting less effort into my appearance and being alone.
The pandemic has been a time of exploration for how people express themselves. I hope people will be more open-minded about people’s appearances and what we deem acceptable in professional environments.
I’ve enjoyed the lack of judgment while I spend most of my time at home. Being in academic and professional settings forces me to be more aware of my appearance, and it limits how I express myself based on society’s expectations of a feminine-presenting person.
Last year, I requested a few accommodations and needed more leniency with deadlines because of my anxiety. There were many instances where I physically could not bring myself to complete assignments by their due dates because of anxiety flare-ups and needed flexibility from my professors, which I thankfully got.
This semester, I held back on asking for a couple of accommodations out of fear of negative responses. However, I was relieved to find that my professors are still understanding and willing to help me succeed in my classes.
Spring 2021 was particularly difficult for me as I usually completed assignments through short bursts of motivation especially since the workload for that semester was heavier than in Fall 2020. I lost count of the amount of extensions I requested in one of my classes, Sociology of Popular Culture, because I was struggling to keep up with my other classes and had little motivation to do anything.
I feel nervous about how flexible my professors will actually be with class accommodations as we progress further into the semester, but the support my professors are currently offering eases my concern.
Although it’s still early in the semester, I haven’t been too successful in making friends due to my busy schedule and social anxiety holding me back from making plans to hang out with people. But I’m optimistic that as I get adjusted to my new routine, it’ll be easier to balance everything.
One of the main drawbacks of online classes is how difficult it is to make friends. My most successful friendships are built off of mostly in-person interactions. While I do my best in using social media to my advantage to connect with people of similar interests, it doesn’t feel the same.
Online, it’s easier for people to present their personalities differently but in person I’m able to get a better sense of what someone’s personality is like. I’ve also found the transition from an online connection to an in-person one is awkward, so laying the foundations of a friendship with in-person interactions makes it easier and more genuine for me.
Coming to campus made me feel more optimistic about the friends I could make, since it would be possible to meet up with people.
Despite the difficult transition to being in person, I am happy to start experiencing more of college life on campus. I’m hopeful that some of the lessons from the pandemic will carry on in making school more enjoyable for everyone.