Hi friends! Welcome to the wonderful world of navigating online classes! With everything going on in the world recently, I’m mostly just so glad that people are able to be on campus. But I know a lot of people are struggling with navigating this “new normal.” So, I thought I’d create a little update of all of the aspects of college I’ve seen most affected by COVID-19. And I invited a couple of my friends to chime in with their thoughts, so you get a couple of different perspectives.
Ah yes, the number one question: how are classes functioning? Well, every class is a bit different, based on the professor, the needs of the class, the number of students, etc. I know people whose classes are entirely in-person, people doing remote learning from out of state (or country), people who are on campus with a fully online schedule, people whose classes have been split into smaller groups to accommodate restrictions, etc.
Everyone’s preferences are different. Some people love the new adjustment, and stay home as much as possible, others dislike it and yearn for more in person time. One of my friends, Josh Tombline, says “managing courses has been a lot more uniform”, and how as a local Rochesterain, “I find I’m never on campus”.
Other academic aspects are impacted too, of course. Study space on campus had been limited, office hours are online, and labs are some students only interactions with the people in their classes.
Fortunately for any and all of you student athletes, sports is making a resilient push to stay active (no pun intended) this semester. With new social distancing measures, most sports are having to adjust their practices and limit or eliminate games, but people have been spacing people out with cones or yard lines, removing contact aspects, doing social events online or socially distanced.
Teams are also using small pods to practice foundational skills, paring off and heading to the gym together, or setting up group workouts over Zoom. My sport, Quidditch, even joined the intermural kickball league to get some more time together. And of course, everyone is always masked.
Every single club I’ve talked to has found one way or another to stay afloat. For some, like ASL Club, that means limiting our meetings to 10 people maximum, with sign-ups to make sure no one goes over that limit. For Debate Union, that means having everything – meetings, tournaments, office hours – entirely online. For TOOP (my theater troupe) we’ve been having our weekly meetings over Zoom, as well as socially distanced rehearsals in the tent outside Wilson Commons.
My friend Rachel Zelasky, a sophomore, had this advice for incoming first-years – “You absolutely need to put yourself out there and join clubs. It’s going to be hard, especially this semester…but I’ve made all my closest friends through my clubs and it’s really the best way to feel like you’re a part of the campus community”
Dining halls have been one of the big changes. Most of their indoor seating has been removed, and people have taken advantage of the warm weather to eat mostly outside (although we’ll see how that changes as the temperature drops). Dining halls serve food in to-go cartons instead of plates, and it’s not uncommon for students to show up with bags to take home a few days’ worth of food at a time. Others are finding more time to cook and prepare their own meals.
This is another big one. How are you supposed to maintain friendships with people when you’re not allowed within 6 feet of each other? One of my debate partners, Rohat Chari, says this is for sure the hardest part about attending school this semester. “The worst thing [about COVID-19] is that I can’t see my friends and there are no parties”. I won’t sugarcoat it for y’all, the social aspect of this pandemic really is the hardest. But people are finding ways to make it work.
A lot of people have found themselves getting really close with their suite or roommates, finding new and fun activities to do they might not have otherwise. Others are coming up with socially distant hang outs like apple picking or kayaking.
So, that’s what’s been up in the first semester at the University of Rochester: Pandemic Edition. Looking forward to see what other ideas people come up with as the semester continues.
Remember to wash your hands!