CORAL SPRINGS, FL - There are many words I could use to describe being at University of Florida in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Challenging. Interesting. Unique.
But, above all, college in COVID is… weird. It’s just weird.
I cook breakfast in the middle of my nutrition lectures. The campus is a ghost town. I don’t even know what my chemistry professor looks like. It’s an experience like no other.
The impact of COVID is definitely felt in the academic sphere. With classes being completely online, it was difficult to keep track of assignments, at first. The fact that a myriad of different online programs is being used to deliver content makes learning even more confusing.
It’s taken a couple of weeks to get used it, but even still, interaction over Zoom cannot fully replicate in-person learning, especially if lectures are pre-recorded and don’t allow for the back-and-forth questioning that is common in traditional lectures.
Social life has obviously changed significantly as well. The hours and capacities of the libraries and gyms have been reduced, and the once-bustling streets on campus are now sparsely utilized.
Inevitably, there are students who go to the bars and clubs that are open, although I do not personally know anyone who has done so. Students who throw parties themselves can be met with extremely harsh punishment by the university.
Even the small social interactions, like seeing other students while taking out the trash or doing laundry, are completely different.
My first time doing laundry was, to say the least, unpleasant. I passed several students on my way to the laundry room, all of whom gave me extremely dirty looks, much to my bewilderment. It was only when I arrived at the laundry room that I realized I committed the grave sin of forgetting to put my mask on.
Needless to say, I’ve not left my dorm without my mask since.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely positives to the situation. Recorded lectures provide extra flexibility for busy student schedules. Many students have picked up new hobbies and have become closer with their roommates.
Still, I don’t think there is a college kid out there who does not wish that things could just return to normal.
Athitheya Gobinathan is the 2019 valedictorian of Coral Springs High School who attends University of Florida.
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