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Like many other college freshmen, this year has been incredibly dull and underwhelming for me. I was on campus in the fall, but due to the pandemic restrictions, it didn’t feel much like college at all. I spent lots of time in my room alone, without many opportunities to make friends and socialize. The academics were nice, but all the distancing in classrooms and lack of in-person office hours made it hard to connect with my professors the way Kenyon said I would in their promotional materials and during orientation. So when the end of November rolled around and it was time to pack up and leave, I bid Ohio good riddance and embarked home (but not without running into some roadblocks along the way). As Taylor Swift would say, “long story short, it was a bad time!” 

In November, Kenyon announced that everyone except the freshmen would be able to come back to campus in the spring. I still don’t fully understand that decision, but I’m dutifully staying in Alaska this spring, four hours behind Eastern time. Because I didn’t have the friends or money to rent a “hype house” for the semester, I moved back into my parents’ house- well, specifically, the living room, as my sister had moved into my old room. After many hours trying to navigate the course request system, I successfully maneuvered my schedule so that I wouldn’t have any 4 A.M. (or other ungodly hour) classes. However, this means that from 8:10 to noon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I have all four of my online classes in a row, which is always a complete mental drain by the end! Spending so much time on Zoom has been so bad that I’ve had to get blue light-blocking glasses to prevent my eyes from hurting and watering.  

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We did have an extra-long winter break, though, and I spent that time working and composing my college transfer applications. Kenyon just isn’t the right school for me, pandemic or not, and next year I know that I need to go somewhere less rural, larger, and more diverse. I logged onto my first day of classes on February 1st, it felt like a huge shift from last semester. My family is walking around and making noise behind me, my internet sometimes kicks me out of meetings (especially during extreme weather), and overall it just doesn’t feel like class. Additionally, I have a much higher workload than I did last semester, and while I thought my mental health would improve since coming home, it has honestly stayed about the same- I’m completely down in the dumps. 

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Still, I’m trying to keep myself occupied with little things that take my mind off of school- job applications, Zoom club meetings, and hanging out with my dogs. But I still can’t help but imagine what it would be like if I were having an actual college experience right now. So, for everyone who is going through the same thing right now, it sucks, doesn’t it? Just try to hang in there and appreciate the little things in life- see if there are any advantages to being home right now during this pandemic. For me, it’s being able to get my first COVID vaccine dose about a week before this was published and going skiing on the weekends. These don’t make up for being off campus in any way, although they are little things to be glad about. But everything really does feel just like being a kid again, so I send all of the other remote freshmen out there lots of strength! Chances are, things will be mostly normal this fall.


Stella Tallmon is a freshman at Kenyon College from Juneau, Alaska and intends to major in political science. She enjoys swimming, hiking, and drinking tea.
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