A college student shares her experience of what it’s like adjusting to the changes COVID-19 has brought.
From reading daily reports of new cases being confirmed to the countless emails the student body at Stephens College received regarding how the college was working to keep campus safe, I didn’t realize how much COVID-19 would impact me or my semester at Stephens College until it did.
I was ending a phone call with my father when I saw a long email from President Dianne Lynch. Truth be told, I didn’t read this email until my phone started blowing up with messages from my peers inquiring about the upcoming evacuation. Confused, I finally finished reading the email. Residential students were to pack up their small dorm rooms, leaving only a few boxes of non-essential items, and classes were to move online until the beginning of April.
That was the plan — to return to campus and an almost-normal life after a couple weeks. I knew that was too good to be true. I spent the last weekend I was permitted to be on campus packing up my apartment and saying goodbyes to my friends. I had one final embrace with my best friend who will be graduating and moving on from Stephens College. I had one last movie night in the apartment that had become my home. And, little did I know, I also said goodbye to my motivation and inspiration — COVID-19 took that from me, too.
I grabbed my cat and shoved the last of my belongings into my overly packed silver Nissan and drove 80 miles to the small farm town of Mayview, Missouri, where the Wi-Fi connection works a fraction of the time and the closest Walmart is a 15-minute drive away. This is where I would be spending the rest of my spring semester of my junior year.
I’ve become an official student of “Zoom University,” where I have video conferences with my fellow classmates and professors who are trying their hardest to make up for us not being with them in-person. On my first real day of Zoom classes, we were presenting the tutorial videos we completed prior to leaving campus. These videos were too mighty for my weak Wi-Fi, and right as my partner and I were about to discuss our project, I lost connection.
I consider myself a highly ambitious person. I work on campus as a community director, where I oversee an entire residence hall; I hold the role of managing editor for our campus magazine, Stephens Life; and I work as the department editor here at COMO magazine. But once I left Columbia, all of that ambition stayed there. I constantly have to remind myself that I still have a to-do list. That this isn’t a vacation — this is my and many others’ reality for the foreseeable future.
Like many of my classmates and other college students that have had their lives uprooted, I’ve had to learn to adjust with an online education. I live most of my life through a computer screen, but I never expected my education to be through one.