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Finally on Campus: 5 Things I’ve Experienced as a Transfer Student During the Pandemic

I did not anticipate being a transfer student during a global pandemic. Who can prepare themselves for that kind of college experience? Instead of enjoying my first time walking around campus and meeting my new classmates, I attempted to adjust to college life by staring at black boxes on my computer screen — all the while imagining what it would actually feel like to be there in person. 

This fall, I was finally able to come to college and see what it’s like for the first time. Here’s a rundown of my experiences:

  1. Constantly asking for directions 

Despite being a junior, I often feel like a freshman as I walk with my map and ask for directions. Although I did attend orientation tours, it can still be difficult to navigate where all my classes and the dining halls are. One day in particular, I missed a significant portion of one of my classes — not because I slept in, but because I was so lost. The silver lining to getting lost is that most people are amicable and welcoming, so I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it. 

  1. Trying to find a seat

On “Zoom University,” it’s easy to forget the difficulty of rushing to class early to try and find the perfect spot: somewhere I can both pay attention and see the screen without difficulties. With some courses having upwards of 100 students in them, finding that spot can be tricky. I often find myself dashing from one building to another to get a good seat in time. 

  1. Commuting 

Don’t get me wrong, constantly being at home and learning through Zoom had its drawbacks, but I did enjoy going to bed the second I was done with class. Now, and especially because I am living off-campus this semester, the commute time to an after-class nap can be pretty long, ranging from half an hour to two hours depending on traffic.

  1. Meeting new people face to face 

I love seeing people in a classroom setting and being in a group environment. Although I am still worried about possibly being exposed to COVID-19, it’s still great to be able to make connections with new people in classes or on campus. Instead of looking at a screen all day, I now get to hang out with my friends and even study in the library with a group. 

  1. Feeling anxious (at times) 

Every time I look at the news, I am frightened to see the sheer number of current COVID cases. It makes me wonder whether the school will have to return to online classes or if we’ll be able to stay on campus. It would be nice if courses with a larger number of students could at least have the option of Zooming in, rather than having so many people in the lecture halls.  

These are my most prevalent thoughts during the first week here on campus as a transfer student — I would say my experience thus far has been a fair mixture of positives and negatives. 

Finally, I hope all transfer students reading this can experience the beauty of being at Barnard in its entirety and stay healthy. 

Lily Cai

Columbia Barnard '23

Lily is a sophomore at Barnard College, intending to double major in economics and computer science. Apart from school, she loves trying out new food and cuisines. She also enjoys listening to music, reading books, and watching Netflix. Lily would love to meet new people and feel free to reach out to her!
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