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A Brief Reflection

One year ago, I was on my final stretch of my senior year of high school. I was a few short weeks away from having my diploma and moving on to bigger and better things that were coming my way after graduation. However, there was one small detail that still hindered me: I spent my last year and a half of high school completely remote. I didn’t get an actual prom or graduation my senior year, and I couldn’t end my high school career surrounded by all of my friends before we went our separate ways for college. As my freshman year of college winds down to a stressful ending, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my first year in person after transitioning from completely online to living at school.

It was a terrifying, and sometimes appealing, thought to me: leaving my family that I had spent 24/7 with for a year and a half, and entering into the rest of my life by moving out of the house and onto a college campus. I have always been a social butterfly, but the thought of meeting so many new people now had a new anxiety, as there was still the risk of getting shut down because of the pandemic. Needing to consider a major in the midst of trying to make sure my family and I stayed healthy was near impossible. Even choosing a college was overwhelming because there was so much to consider: their previous response to the lockdown, how they were handling the pandemic, and whether it would be worth the money and trouble if we were going to lock down again. However, after a lot of debate and consideration, my parents and I decided moving out and onto a college campus was the best decision for me, and I officially committed to Bradley.

One of the biggest things I noticed at the beginning of the semester was how fast I was able to adjust to not being home. I was genuinely so surprised with myself because I had been told more times than not that the transition might be a difficult one and not to be too hard on myself if I miss my parents a lot. Was it totally awkward trying to learn how to be on my own while navigating how to do in-person classes and make new friends? Absolutely. Did I miss my parents like crazy the first night and repeatedly after that over the course of the entire year? No doubt. However, I was relatively okay a lot sooner than I had been expecting, and I do think the pandemic had something to do with the quick transition into being comfortable. There were days where being at home became a lot when there were five of us just on top of each other constantly, so a change of space was something that I truly appreciated more than I would have if I had not been with my entire family all the time.

My largest struggle, personally, was getting up to get ready and go to classes. I had gotten so used to waking up for classes right before they started and rolling out of my bed, onto a Google Meet call to tune out most of the class. Actually needing to attend classes was something that I had been fearful of for days because I was worried I had lost all my attention skills to actually stay engaged with my classes. The thought of attending genuine college classes with no knowledge of what they were like was scary for me before I moved to remote learning, and the disconnect I experienced from the pandemic made everything so much more daunting in my eyes. I will openly admit that getting up on time for classes, getting ready for the day, leaving my room and actually attending classes was something I did enjoy a lot, but I did also struggle with it a lot. I began to thrive again in a social setting where I was constantly exposed to new people, but I also began to struggle waking up on time and having the motivation to go to classes. A lot of the year was easy after the first two weeks or so when I got everything into a routine, but even now there are days where I long for the simplicity of just logging into a virtual meeting and learning from bed by myself.

As the year continued on and I became closer with a lot of people, the COVID related restrictions began to lessen. A complete culture shock that happened for me every single time we would loosen the restrictions was seeing people’s faces for the first time. It was something that was always so bizarre to me over the entire duration of the pandemic as I kept meeting people and only knew them by their face with a mask. This was no different when I was attending classes and club meetings. When first getting to school through the first restriction being lifted, I had met a lot of new people, most of which I didn’t see without a mask until the restrictions were lifted, and therefore my imagination just filled in the spaces. Imagine my surprise when they looked nothing like the fake image in my head that I had created and been pretending to talk to the entire time.

Overall, the transition from being completely remote to in-person was rocky mostly in the beginning and things began to smooth out relatively quickly, although there were still the normal hiccups that I faced every so often. College itself was the normal shock that it is for high schoolers who are leaving school, with some extra struggles that I faced, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to be in person for all of my classes this year, as well as being able to join so many great organizations on campus to get to know a lot of lovely people. Despite the little bumps in the road, I thoroughly enjoyed my first semester in college.

Kylie Kruis

Bradley U '25

college is crazy, so let's chill, gossip, and have a good time :)
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