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College in the Time of COVID

After spending the last year zooming into my classes instead of walking to them, and pouring my coffee out of a pot instead of buying it on campus, I’ve come to two realizations. One being that I miss every single aspect of college life that I used to complain about. And two being that the amount of money you save making food/drinks at home is honestly shocking.

I’m currently a senior at UMass Amherst where I used to spend everyday walking all over campus with my friends and 30,000 other undergraduate students. Last year, on a typical day, my roommates and I would’ve woken up, quickly gotten ready and then run to the bus stop that had already accumulated a group of 10-15 other students. Probably two or three already full busses would drive right past us on the way to campus, before one with enough space for us all would stop (*cue the complaining by 10 a.m.*)

Once we arrived on campus, we’d disperse into the sea of students making their way to class. Stopping for coffee was a risky move early in the day, as the lines were usually at least 20 people long and the odds I’d be late to class were high. Plus, if I was late to a lecture, I’d have to walk up and down the rows of a 300 person class looking for a seat, and I was always painfully aware of the eyes that watched me walk in late with a fresh iced coffee in hand.

At the end of day I’d return home and my house would be filled with funny stories of how one of them had to eat their lunch standing up because there wasn’t a single open table at the dining hall, or how a heated debate broke out in the middle of someone’s political science class. Of course we complained about it all, but half the fun of attending UMass came with the fact that I was in a little city filled with college students, and crazy things were happening around me all the time.

Unfortunately, all of that disappeared with the rest of “normal life” when Covid-19 hit. These days my roommates and I wake up in a house where our options are either taking our classes from our bedrooms or our living room. Our weekends that used to be filled with tailgates and crowded bars are now wide open, leaving me with a lot of time to reflect on the fact that most of my college “lasts” have already happened.

Not even necessarily the big parts of senior year, such as our last homecoming or last sorority formal, but the little lasts that used to happen everyday. I’ll never get shoved onto a public bus again, or have to run to the library, wait-in-line for a printer, and then rush to a class that's 10 minutes away. Additionally, I’ll certainly never see the UMass dining halls or lecture halls so full that I can’t find a seat again. It all switched up on me rather quickly, and although I’ve saved a lot of money making my coffee at home, I would trade it all in to wait in one more 20 person line before heading to a 300 person class.

-By Annie Marshall

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