When September rolls around, it can only mean one thing: school is back in session. Yellow school buses start their patrols, the school supplies section at Target is vitally empty, and parents are itching to send their kids back to school for the first time in a year and a half. For college students, the beginning of a new school year means packing your bags and potentially moving across the country for your education. This year, returning to campus is an even more special experience than it has been in the past. Sure, there are still plenty of restrictions to ensure the safety of classmates and staff, but it’s close enough to have a normal college experience that I am excited to explore.
As a college sophomore, you would think that I would have a good handle on returning to college and navigating the campus and that being back at college would feel like routine to me, but I don’t and it doesn’t.
Because of the pandemic, I spent my entire freshman year online and in my childhood bedroom. And, as an out-of-state student, I’d only ever visited the UMass campus once when I toured before my senior year of high school. So I guess, I’m not officially returning to campus, since I was never really been here in the first place. Despite this, I feel like there’s a subtle expectation to know where everything is and how to handle the balance between socializing and studying. I’ve been asked by freshmen where to find certain buildings and how to use the PVTA and then having to break the news to them that I have absolutely no idea.
To be quite honest, it was kind of funny to show up on Move-in Day and be in the same boat as the freshman (and even some of the juniors!) who had little to no experience navigating the campus — thousands of clueless students wandering around campus in search of a dining hall or still trying to find their dorm. It was almost reassuring to know that so many of us were in the same situation because then I did not feel nearly as bad every time I had to whip out Google maps to figure out where I was going.
Despite this, every time I’m given a moment to think about it, I almost have an existential crisis thinking about how I’m in my second year of college when I haven’t really been to campus or an in-person class until this year. I’m hoping that by the end of the semester I’ll have a better grasp on being an actual college student and fully realize that I’m not in high school anymore.
So, here’s to being “back” at UMass.