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From Thirsty to Struggling: Returning Back to Campus

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Does everyone look prettier or am I just thirsty? Why are people dressing up as if college was a fashion show? Is this how it actually feels to pay attention to class in real life? Am I supposed to take notes or just pretend? How do you make friends in college? 

Is it possible to create meaningful relationships with those around me? Do I just randomly walk up to people and ask them to hang out with me, or would that be considered a weirdly unacceptable social behavior? Wait. Is that how my Google Meet friend with whom I worked with for a literature project looks like in person? 

Cute guy. How do I flirt with him? Flirting? What’s that? I think I’ve lost my social skills, but did I ever have any to begin with before the pandemic began? It’s been way too long for me to remember. Why are there no parking spots available at 10 in the morning? How do I get to my labs? The line’s too long; does this mean that I am supposed to eat in between my classes? Where should I have lunch? 

How do I walk a mile in less than 10 minutes without showing up looking sweaty in a not-even-slightly-sexy way? Is there something wrong with me or has the post-COVID-19 pandemic life made it harder for me to concentrate? Do I need to bring forward my appointment with my therapist or is this normal? Should I get myself a cat, a puppy, a cactus, a boyfriend, or am I just being needy? 

All these questions basically sum up my first month of in person classes after being away from campus for two years. Part of me is unable to transition from Zoom University to the get-yourself-together zone: this is the real college life experience. As I return to my beloved IUPI in my last semester, I can’t help but to admit that I’m struggling with adapting to this new (yet-not-so-new) lifestyle. 

Although the intellectual satisfaction associated with actually learning is exciting, I’ve realized that I’ve wasted half of my undergraduate degree cooking, eating, sleeping, jogging,and doing-everything-but studying, virtually. Without the comfort that online studying entails, going back to college has made me feel like I’m standing in a room full of strangers, but I’m actually naked and afraid.  

I’m not scared of people. I just can’t go back to normalcy for a bit. I’ve been here before, but I’ve forgotten how it felt to really be here. I think I’ll just embrace change as it is. It’s not like I have another option.

Everything is just awkward. Thankfully, though, we’re all wearing masks and you won’t always be able to tell. I can’t focus. Traffic is frustrating. There is no new normal. Put simply, I’m a bad flirt. Despite all my circumstances and oddly embarrassing social skills, I’m happy to be back to the best college campus I could’ve asked for. 

So, please. Bear with me. Be my friend or walk with me to class. Explain to me whatever the professor just said in a post-virtual life understandable way or go out with me ;) I swear I’m a fun person to be around; the pandemic has just changed me. It’s changed us. But I promise I’ll get better. At least I’m learning.

Nicole is a Chemistry major, who also happens to love Biology. She is an avid learner, and has a passion for science, literature and journalism. Eventually, the young dreamer aspires to merge her passions as a neurosurgeon, researcher and writer. She enjoys eating chocolate ice cream, "mofongo," and her abuelita's fried "chuletas." Three essential words to describe her would be inquisitive, determined and honest.