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Reliving the Freshmen Experience as a Returning Junior

Every student grieves the time of their college experience that was lost when the pandemic surged in 2020. The reality for the Class of 2023 is that we left as freshmen who were just beginning to make our way into college life. Now we’re springing into things again, but as juniors this time.

Coming back to campus feels like a deja-vu moment because I am vaguely familiar of the environment that I had to distance from for so long and I am facing challenges that I once encountered as a naive freshman: learning campus, navigating the PVTA, building social relationships, and adjusting to a college community. It is the same transition I experienced once upon a time during my first year.

As a junior, we are supposed to feel more mature because we spent the past two years of building knowledge and experiences that have elevated our personal development. However, I have the academic experience of someone who has completed half of their undergraduate education, but the curiosity and confusion of someone who has just begun their college journey. I feel like there’s still so much to learn and do before graduation, but now the pressure of time running out is real.

Like many others, my college experience was put on pause for over a year. For the most part, a chunk of that time lost was spent remotely via screens and telecommunications. Those who haven’t been to campus since the initial lockdown are facing a unique set of hurdles. Students now have to resume in-person education and rebuild or create connections from the ground up.

While going through the freshmen assimilation process again can feel repetitive, it is also full of opportunities. I get to feel that same thrill of wonder and motivation, like stepping onto campus for the first time, but with more sense than I had before. Here’s to the freshmen experience: part two.

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Talazen Smith

U Mass Amherst '23

Talazen is a Spring 2021 Her Campus member for UMass Amherst. She is a Junior majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in Sociology. She is also a Content Editor for the UMass chapter, a writing tutor in the UMass Writing Center, and a member of Alpha Chi Omega.
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