Life on Campus: Expectations V. Reality

My college experience thus far is certainly not what I expected it to be but, to be honest, I think it’s awesome nonetheless. If you would have asked me seven months ago how I pictured my college experience, I would have gone on and on about socializing and meeting new people and gaining a bunch of new experiences. Unfortunately, since COVID has gone much longer than expected, my college experience is a little bit different. I am lucky enough to be able to be going to college on campus, but even then, my university made several changes to their rules in the hopes of limiting the spread of COVID. Because of these rules, many traditional events and customs like orientation, parties, and other forms of socialization were limited or completely cancelled (and I like to think that the people at my school are also doing their part to stay safe so we don’t all have to go home early).

If you were to ask me how my college experience compares to my expectations, I would not be able to give a complete answer, primarily for the reason that I, along with all of my peers, have not gotten a normal college experience yet. However, even with the restrictions my school set, I can still discuss a lot of the shifts that have happened in my life since I started this new chapter. 


Independence

I go to an out of state school across the country from my family, so I had to shift from relying on my family for most things to being nearly completely independent. If I am being honest, other than the fact that I am away from my loved ones, this has been my second favorite part of my college experience, behind the friends I have made. I love the ability to make my own decisions and take my next steps towards adulthood. 

I know a lot of people are kind of nervous about this type of independence, but I have always been a relatively independent person, so this change really didn’t faze me. 

I was a little bit nervous that I would feel homesick, but as of now, I haven’t really felt it. Fortunately, I have made a really good group of friends since arriving on campus, and having that support system has really helped me avoid feelings of homesickness and loneliness. 

In terms of everyday activities such as eating, doing laundry, and studying, I think I have done a very good job of managing my time. Before I left home, I already took care of some of those tasks myself (primarily in preparation for college) but now that I am here, I feel like I have really taken control of my time management on the basics of my life. I have to say though, I really miss my parents’ cooking and having a kitchen. My dorm closed the hall kitchen for safety reasons, so now I can’t make myself food and instead have to rely on the dining halls or snacks. 

Socializing

Pictured: Two friends and myself taking an uber to get my laptop fixed

Although socializing is a lot more challenging due to the virus, I have managed to find a good group of friends to hang out with. However, before I left for college, I hoped to go to a lot more social events and meet so many more people. I am happy with the people I know, but I think it would be much easier to socialize if not for the pandemic. 

Another part of my life that is a lot more unusual is hardly ever seeing the bottom halves of my friends’ faces. I generally have my mask on all the time except for when I am eating or in my dorm, and my friend group is no different. We all come from different parts of the country and, quite frankly, we pay too damn much to go to this school only to take online classes from home because some idiots decided to party and ruin things for the rest of us. 

Still, over time, I have gotten more and more used to wearing a mask and socializing with a mask. Even now, though, I won’t recognize my friend from afar since I can’t see their whole face. 

CLASSES

This semester, I am taking all online classes. Although this would probably be much more challenging for people who have been in college for a while, I think I have an advantage in terms of coping since this is my first semester. I got used to my online classes relatively quickly, and now I’m kind of happy about them since they give me more flexibility in my schedule. 

The only classes I really wish were in person are my discussion-based classes, like Creative Writing and Western Literature. 

It would still be nice to have classes in person and hopefully, next semester, I will be able to do so. 

Weather

I go to school at the University of Rochester, so the climate here is staunchly different from that in Miami. This is the part of my shift that I least have to cope with. I am loving Rochester’s weather thus far. Then again, I haven’t experienced Rochester winter just yet, which is notoriously cold and windy. Right now, however, autumn is just starting to set in and the temperature has gone down to the sixties and fifties. I’m so excited to wear long sleeves and sweaters every day without sweating through my clothes. Not to mention, the trees are absolutely beautiful. The leaves are only just starting to change color. One morning, I walked out of my down only for a brisk breeze to shake the trees, allowing dozens of yellow leaves to float onto the ground. It was really a breathtaking sight. 

I am not, however, looking forward to winter. I have been warned way too many times by all of my northern friends and I know full-well that I am not prepared clothing-wise, but I’ll figure it out. I’d much rather have the freezing cold than the blistering heat.

Overall, my college experience was not what I expected, but I am loving it anyway. College is so much more freeing than high school and, although my high school experience was good enough, my college experience is so much more. I cannot wait to continue learning about the topics I love surrounded by people that I can rely on. Hopefully, though, I won’t have to worry about a pandemic for the entirety of my undergraduate years.