I Started My College Experience During A Pandemic, Here Are 8 Thoughts After the First Month

I never anticipated beginning my college journey in the middle of a global crisis, but here I am, a month into my time at Hofstra. There are definitely parts that are not as fun as others (like getting randomly selected for COVID-19 testing) but there are also parts of college than have been pleasantly suprising. While I'm sure not everyone has had the same experiences in their first year as I have, many of these could apply to students at all walks of their college experience.

  1. 1. The Stress About COVID-19 is Real

    medical worker takes a swab test

    Obviously, COVID-19 has affected my college experience so far, but at times it's hard to tell just how much of an impact it's had. For me, this is just what college is, and sometimes it’s easy to forget about it.

    Often, I’m reminded about the pandemic. One week I sat next to someone whose roommate tested positive. A few days later I was selected for random testing, which is pretty much when you realize how scary the virus can be. You might never know if you have it. You could be asymptomatic, or you could have mild symptoms and just chalk it up to allergies. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you never know if you have it, or if someone else you know has it and what symptoms are real or just in your head.

    While the thought of contracting COVID-19 is extremely unsettling, sometimes it’s nice to have that wake-up call: to wear a mask, and social distance. At this point, it's almost the new normal.

  2. 2. The Fruit Situation is Interesting

    fruit smoothie in glass with metal straw

    As someone who loves fruit, enjoying some on campus has proved more difficult than I intended. For one, the fruit cups are expensive and come in plastic. What's inside can either be delicious or taste strange. The cantaloupe and the grapes usually aren’t bad- but my real discoveries have been the applesauce at Dutch Treats and the plastic wrapped apples in the Student Center. I haven’t had a bad experience with those (yet.)

    I also enjoy the smoothies (both from Freshens and Bits and Bytes), which feel more cost-efficient. Plus, there’s a good variety so it's hard to get bored of them.

  3. 3. It’s Hard to Recognize People in Masks

    woman wearing sunflower dress and face mask

    Pretty much everyone knew this was going to happen, but I’ve realized that masks can be a huge communication barrier when meeting people.

    It can be hard to hear and recognize someone else when you're speaking to them or even just passing them on campus. There are occasions where I see someone and only know who they are because I know what their mask looks like. It's unclear what their actual face looks like, which is kind of awkward.

  4. 4. Group Games are Chaotic, but Fun

    One of the best ways to bond with people is to play games. I've played an atrocious amount of games since arriving here, but it's also brought me closer to others. Here are a few of our favorites in my group:

    "Among Us": the group is placed on a spaceship with one or more imposters. The imposters attempt to kill the crew members without raising suspicion before the crewmates can complete their “tasks”. 

    "One Night Werewolf": this game resembles mafia, but players are given roles at the beginning of the round (called a night).  During each night, the roles switch around and at the end everyone wakes up and tries to figure out who the werewolves are.

    "Uno" but with a twist: This game is pretty much exactly like regular "Uno" but there are a few more rules. If you lay down a seven, you pick someone else’s hand to swap with. If you lay down a zero everyone rotates their hands. Stacking (laying multiple +2 cards or +4 cards on top of each other) also adds a layer of aggression. This can get really long and intense, and you may have to pick up 12 cards at once!

  5. 5. College Work Isn’t Bad, But Time Management is Harder

    woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

    This might not be the case for everyone, but it seems like like high school teachers over-exaggerated the difficulty of college classes. Yes, professors have higher expectations, but the work itself isn’t that much harder than it was before.

    Time management is the aspect that’s hardest to adjust to in the transition to college life. There’s definitely more work to do and it’s challenging to find the right balance between having a good social life and getting things done.

    Honestly, you have more time than you think. You can pretty much get everything done if you maximize the little moments you have during the day. Trying to write a whole paper at once doesn’t work very well. However, chipping away at it in the weird half-hour intervals between activities is actually pretty effective.

  6. 6. Netflix Party is a Blessing

    Girl watching Netflix

    While logistically it’s kind of hard to watch shows and movies with others, I’ve had a great time getting to know people over a Google Chrome extension called "Netflix Party." The extension syncs the video across Netflix accounts and allows you to chat while it’s happening.

    It’s an easy way to hang out with people even if you can’t be in the dorms together.

    If you excel in written wit, it can also be a great place to showcase your humor.

  7. 7. Peanut Butter and Jelly is a Good Go-To

    White_Bread

    This may seem childish but as someone whose stomach is weirdly sensitive, rediscovering peanut butter and jelly is quite possibly one of my biggest accomplishments so far on campus.

    While those found in the Student Center can vary in quality depending on the day, Uncrustables are always reliable, and they're available at so many places on campus.

  8. 8. College Friendships are Strange

    two women sit on the beach, facing the ocean. the sun shines in between them.

    As high schoolers we spent most of our time around people we’ve known our whole lives. We’ve never really had to navigate new relationships because we knew each other and each others’ reputations already. 

    Now, it’s a little different. No one has any preconceived notions about each other. It’s interesting to see how quickly people gravitate toward one another. To me, it’s entertaining to sit back and watch people try and navigate making friends.

    College is like a pressure cooker. If you get a bad vibe from someone, you probably won’t hang out with them again. If you start a friendship with someone, it’s likely that you’ll get close with them quickly.

    My friend and I realized that we’ve been friends less than one percent of our total lives, yet we feel closer than some of our friends at home who we’ve known forever.

    None of these things are bad, but it’s easy to see why college connections extend so much farther than high school. 

I have to admit, I was really nervous about starting college. Moving away from family is challenging for everyone, but it felt especially hard because of the pandemic.

Despite dealing with the virus, trying to navigate new social situations, and plodding through writing essays, I’m happy here. I've learned a lot in the past month about what it means to be a student, person and friend. I've met some amazing people and made some interesting memories. This is just the start, and I have no doubt things will go up from here.

 

I look forward to seeing what the next few semesters bring.