What UGA freshmen can't learn on zoom this fall
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What UGA freshmen can't learn on zoom this fall

Regardless of any sickness or hardship or rules or difficult class, this is UGA. It's your home.

What UGA freshmen can't learn on zoom this fall

Times right now are scary. Who would've guessed children's birthday parties would be a drive-thru. No one intended for graduation to take place on zoom or for friendships to take place at a distance. This isn't how we're supposed to live. I miss being able to smile in a grocery store and not have a mask covering it. I miss being able to sit next to a complete stranger on a bus and tell them a joke or at least introduce myself. I miss having my ribs shoved against a metal bar as I try to get as close as I can to my favorite artist at a concert. I miss hugging the people I love and seeing them between classes at a busy crosswalk or running into them around town.

Freshman year is scary. No one is there to tell you when to go to bed, and there's a good chance you'll make a habit out of a poor sleep schedule. No one wakes you up when you snooze through your alarm and aren't ready for class. No one cooks for you to make sure you eat vegetables. You will probably go a long period of time without eating a quality meal much less a fruit. It's tough having to learn how to make friends again and get adjusted to a new city, a new place, a new school, new people, and a new place in life. Throwing in a pandemic doesn't make it easier.

UGA recently announced that we will be resuming school in the fall but in a very different environment than I wanted to experience. I don't know if freshmen will get to have their first Saturday in Sanford where a red plastic pom-pom is a trophy. You earned your seat in that stadium and getting to call on the dawgs makes every ACT test feel worth it. I don't know if freshmen will get to experience a social life where out of 36,000 students, they still see the same people around. This huge school that once terrified you starts to feel like home. I don't know if freshmen will run home on bid day to hundreds of open arms assuring them they are exactly where they are supposed to be. I don't know if they will feel the same comfort in the crowds around campus as I feel every day. The feeling that everything I went through in high school and all the late nights were worth it. The feeling where you look to the right and see Sanford Stadium and just think "Wow, I go here." I miss the chaos of Athens and feeling like with everything happening all I once, I couldn't be more comfortable and confident.

Here's what I do know.

Regardless of how freshmen will experience this fall- regardless of how well their connection works on zoom or how cute their face mask is, it is still UGA. It's still the dream school you worked your ass off to get into. It's still the butterflies you get walking across north campus on a pretty day. It's still smelling Bolton's chocolate chip cookies after a tough class and it making your day a little bit better. It's still turning around in a lecture hall and getting to know someone new. Someone who could very well become a really good friend for years to come. It's still sitting in a class and realizing you are in the right major and right place and everything is exciting and makes sense and you want to come to class for the first time in a long while. It's still talking to your mom on the phone as you walk to campus because its the only time you don't have anything going on. It's still being part of something bigger than yourself. It's belonging to organizations that raise millions of dollars and getting to see your hard work change someone's life. It's still full of friendships where strangers become sisters. It's still becoming best friends with the people in your dorm that you awkwardly see in the elevator or the study rooms.

Regardless of any sickness or hardship or rules or difficult class, this is the University of Georgia. It's your home. It's your dream school. You will still make friends. You will still be part of a community that makes you feel like nothing else matters. You will still fight over football and bully people who wear orange on purpose. You are still going to eat local food that will remind you that no one does breakfast like the south or chicken like Cane's. I promise you there will still be fun things to do and you are never as bored as you think you are. You will find yourself here. You will build your friendships here. You will find peace in the chaos and community in a pandemic. You're not going to just be okay. You're going to be exactly where you are supposed to be. Even in a pandemic, this is still UGA. It's the greatest city in the world. People will still call the dawgs and talk to strangers and hangout on futons and over coffee. Things will be okay; even if it's not what you expected or hoped for. You will still be a bulldog by the end of it all, and sometimes, that's all that matters.

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