My freshman year at Penn State University was like a roller coaster: it had many ups and downs and it finally finished its course, but not the way I wanted it to. Before spring break was finished, almost every university in the country closed and moved to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including mine. When Penn State announced that it was going to be online for the rest of the semester, I was rushed to pack my things and to get off campus. This forced me to finish my freshman year at college through Zoom lectures in my room at home, with many distractions and little motivation.
Once I was back in my house, it didn't feel like home because I knew that my life was back at State College. The first couple of weeks were hard. I lost motivation to show up to my online lectures and I was constantly calling my college friends since they all live more than two hours away. Although it's still unclear if my university is opening back in the fall, I still hang onto hope that we will be able to walk the campus in late August again.
Over time, I got back on track. Talking to loved ones and friends always helped me, and some of the best advice can be learned from Julia Andrews from the "Sound of Music" when she explained how she always thought about things that made her happy in order to feel better. Here, I've listed some of my favorite things so that I can stay positive during this quarantine!
Dining hall meals with my friends!
Don't get me wrong, I love my mom's cooking and home-cooked meals, but I do miss the dining halls that had tater-tots, the endless salad and the freshly-made cookies that used to burn my mouth when I took a bite. Dining hall meals with friends was the time to relax and not think about school work for a minute. The dining hall is where we all become closer because we would actually talk and laugh together while enjoying our meals.
Fall semester is all about the football games, and I am super excited to go back to the atmosphere of our stadium. Going tailgating with my friends and then hanging out at the game together is one of the best parts of college!
Regrouping with the clubs I joined and joining more.
One of the worst parts about leaving campus suddenly was leaving the clubs I recently joined. I was still getting to know everyone and then suddenly, I was still getting to know everyone through computer screens. I'm excited to get back on track with the clubs I joined and see what other ones I am open to joining!
Walking the campus and being in class in person.
I know I wasn't the only one who would wake up, open up my laptop and attend my Zoom lecture without even leaving my bed. Doing Zoom classes was tough to stay focused because I had all these distractions around me and I was not physically in a classroom. Walking the beautiful campus to my class put me in the right mindset so that I could focus in class.
Hanging out with friends.
Whether it was a night in or out, I always had a blast with the friends I made at college, and being taken away from all of that sucks. Study sessions in the library were always fun, even though we barely got any work done. I can't wait to have more sleepovers, with us ordering too much food on Grubhub or UberEats, more karaoke and dancing nights, and more nights filled with laughter and memories we would remember forever.
Meeting new people.
One thing I love about my university is how big it is and how many people attend it. This always excites me because I have so many opportunities to meet new people and make connections. Because of this pandemic, it has been hard to stay in contact with everyone, but I am excited to get back on campus and see everyone!