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Reflecting on My Sophomore Semesters During the Pandemic

It’s currently finals week for me, and I don’t know how that happened.

It feels like I just moved back on campus a few days ago. I’m a sophomore this 2020-2021 school year, and unfortunately, half of it was taken by the pandemic. I spent my fall semester at home taking Zoom classes and online exams in my childhood bedroom and my camper. It was definitely very strange; in 2019 if someone told me I would spend 7 months of my college career at home I would’ve laughed in their face.  

For many of us, I can assume, working at home was an adjustment.

I have a sister in fourth grade and a mom who’s a high school teacher- so sometimes all three of us would be in class at the same time. It can be hard to concentrate when there are electrical engineering Kahoot games and 23 nine-year-olds learning long division downstairs, but I made it through. I decided to decorate inside my camper that was sitting unused in my backyard for the winter with some of my dorm decorations. I hung string lights, put up whiteboards, school supplies– I even dragged my lava lamp out there to leave on the counter. It was a nice environment because it felt like I was going somewhere other than my room. In the fall not every establishment in my home state of Massachusetts was open at full capacity or even open at all, so my study space options were limited.  

But even through all of the Wifi struggles, almost sleeping through my early classes because my bed is just that comfortable, and cabin fever, I made it through. Winter break came and went, and soon enough it was time to start packing to move back onto campus in the spring.  

Packing definitely looked different than it did my freshman year.

We were told to pack light in terms of clothes and decorations– something that proved difficult for me– just in case we needed to be sent home at any point. Instead of scarves and gloves, I was packing shorts and sunglasses for the spring. In addition to all of the usual kitchen and bathroom items, I had two full bins and boxes of just Clorox wipes, single-use masks, Lysol cans, and hand sanitizer.

I had no idea what I was getting into going back to school, so I came prepared.  

Everyone was tested for Covid-19 on the day of their arrival and given a bag of masks and hand sanitizer on their way in. Move-in was short and sweet because guests weren’t supposed to linger too long on campus, and so all of a sudden, I was back here after ten months like nothing ever happened.  

As strange as having hybrid classes was, (one day a week in person, all the other days they meet on Zoom), it was just nice to be back here. I hadn’t seen any of my friends from other states in almost a year, so catching up with them (safely) was great.  

This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but I feel like it made me appreciate a lot of the small things in life, especially while on campus.

I got insanely close with my five roommates, as we spent the majority of time in our rooms during the colder months when we couldn’t be outside. A lot of the dining hall meals turned to takeout, so we almost always eat dinner together and just spent a lot of time in our apartment. We’ve spent so much time together in these past four months that it was impossible to not form a deeper friendship.  

I also feel like I’ve begun to appreciate my campus a lot more.

It gets warm down here around the end of March, and with the limited capacity allowed inside, everyone spends the nice days on the Quad. I’ve found a lot of new spots to sit and do work or eat. Being in nature more has been one of the good things to come out of the pandemic for me.  

Overall, both semesters went as well as they could have, I think.

I can’t believe this year is almost over, but I’m very excited to see what the future holds. Hopefully next semester will be a little closer to what we think of as “normal,” but this entire year has shown me that I’m able to adapt to anything.

Maria D'Agostino is a senior at Loyola University Maryland studying Communications with a double specialization in Journalism and Digital Media. She is passionate about music and storytelling, and hopes to continue working around those passions beyond Her Campus and in a future career. In her free time you'll probably find baking every dessert recipe she can find on Pinterest, obsessing over bands, doing makeup, or camping.
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