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Rebecca Karlous

8 Students Share What They’re Most Excited About As We Begin Transitioning Back To In-Person Instruction After Over a Year

There was a certain moment in time during the pandemic when normal life seemed so far out of reach, as if there existed an eternity between life under quarantine and the life we once all knew. Now, with the increasing momentum of available vaccinations, we are thankfully all looking forward to a return towards a more conventional workspace, school experience and social life. Here are a few accounts about what people are most looking forward to when it comes to returning back to in-person schooling, and how the pandemic has affected those parts of their lives.

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Anonymous, 2nd year at Long Beach City College

“I am looking forward to returning back to school in person because I’m excited to make new friends and be able to learn in an actual classroom setting, which is very important because it helps me focus and actually engage in the type of work that I do. I found that I was unable to focus in my classes remotely because being at home not only served as a distraction on its own, but also provided an outlet for me to get lost in said distractions. The pandemic definitely affected my schooling experience because I was forced to abandon my clubs, and later on I had to take a temporary leave from school to find a new job and prioritize making the income I needed to eventually return. On a more optimistic note, the pandemic helped me be more mindful about the friendships and relationships I have already made in school before the quarantine.” 

    Anonymous, 2nd year at University of California, Los Angeles

    “The two quarters I spent at UCLA was the happiest time of my life, so I’m really excited to return this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and girlfriend again, as well as getting to make new memories with them. Online schooling wasn’t all terrible because I liked the aspect of asynchronous classes allowing me to watch lectures on my own time and at the speed I preferred, which helped me stay engaged, but overall the isolation that was caused by the pandemic made me realize how important social support is to me and has helped me value my friends a lot more. My gratitude for being in an environment that made me feel safe and free to express myself has also grown throughout this experience.”

      Kayla Vo, 6th grade at Bancroft Middle School

      “Quarantine and switching to online learning made me realize how grateful I am for the human interaction we used to get with in-person school. Interacting with others and making new friends made me feel happier about going to school. Starting middle school online made me feel worried about not being able to be on the same page as everyone else, because this experience is new for everyone, even the teachers. I am looking forward to starting my next school year in person and being on campus for the first time.”

        Hana Hurtado, 2nd year at California State University, Long Beach

        “Like many others, I’m looking forward to the social aspect of returning back to campus. I can’t wait to join more clubs and attend the current clubs I am a part of, in person. I am also very excited for the opportunity to meet new people, as well as reconnecting with some old friends. Not having to commute to campus saved me a lot of time in the morning as well as money for gas, but I was really upset that I could no longer see my friends I had made before the pandemic occurred. Throughout the course of the pandemic, I made the decision to take a hiatus from school, because online learning was not worth the price of tuition in my opinion. After leaving school, I made a commitment towards prioritizing my mental health and financial independence instead.”

          Anonymous, 2nd year at University of California, Los Angeles

          “The pandemic forced me to move back home before I was able to finish my freshman year. I was planning on getting more involved in extracurriculars and research opportunities the upcoming quarter, but switching to online schooling made that process significantly harder. I also struggled with the lack of structure that came with remote learning, though the exams and assignments have gotten a bit more manageable and I liked that I could attend classes without worrying so much about time conflicts and walking back and forth through campus to make it to class on time. One thing that the pandemic really emphasized for me was the importance of the social aspect of a college experience. I can’t wait to return back to school in person so that I can see my friends again and have the opportunity to spend time with them and with my girlfriend as well.”

            Jamal Williams, 1st year at Long Beach City College

            “The pandemic has brought to light many issues in America, especially ones about race. During the BLM and Stop Asian Hate movements, my attitude about college changed because I wanted to broaden my horizons in regards to the different hardships each community shares. I think that college allows you to grow as an individual and to find common shared ideas with people from different walks of life. In this sense, I am looking forward to in-person school so I can create relationships with all kinds of people. On a personal note, the pandemic played a role in delaying my own academic goals when it stretched out the process of getting my GED due to the rules the testing sites had set in place to limit the amount of people that could come in to finish testing. Despite this fact, the pandemic was also a time that allowed me to become a lot more introspective about myself and what’s important to me.”

              Anonymous, 2nd year at Pasadena City College

              “I am excited to return to school because I want to feel inspired again. Remote learning definitely wasn’t for me, and the negatives heavily outweigh the positives. I felt like my time and energy were not used in the best ways as a result of doing school online. I struggled with dropping classes in order to focus more on my mental health at that time. The pandemic has taught me that the power of human interaction is really powerful, in the sense that it can be extremely effective as a means of coping with life. Being surrounded by an optimistic community or even a small group of friends can have a positive impact on your world paradigm.”

                Anonymous, 9th grade at Whitney High School 

                “I don’t mind online school, but I’m excited about the things that come with in-person schooling, including a traditional high school experience, meeting friends, being able to attend clubs and having a normal sports season. The pandemic made me realize that I took certain things in life for granted, such as seeing my friends in person.”

                  In collecting these perspectives from various people in my life, I was able to broaden my own regarding how different people were affected in different ways from this experience. It’s very clear on a larger scale, how something like the pandemic might directly affect the lives of those around us, but we can also appreciate and learn from the direct experiences of those living their daily lives in tandem with the physical and emotional toll that the pandemic has instilled. What are you looking forward to most about returning back to school in person?

                  Shannon Mia Vo is a third-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Disability Studies. This is her second year writing for UCLA's chapter of Her Campus, and her first year as Assistant Director of Editorial, so she is excited to learn as she goes. Shannon loves to write and believes that words are an essential catalyst for storytelling, education, advocacy, and expression. When she isn't writing, she can be found crafting, rewatching her favorite sitcoms, working out, or browsing through booktok!
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