Home #Focus #FocusDisruption: Sophomore or Second-Year Freshman?

#FocusDisruption: Sophomore or Second-Year Freshman?

by Kayla Mulligan

#FocusDisruption is a collaboration of all the media outlets within Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media. Our goal is to report stories that highlight the effects or disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will be focusing on five main points that are experiencing the changes of a post-pandemic world: education, misinformation, the workplace, climate change and mental health.

For some, senior year of high school was cut short in March 2020. With sports seasons canceled, no prom and barely a graduation ceremony, many of the seniors from the class of 2020 can relate to the struggle of having to turn the page to college when it felt like we didn’t even get to finish the last chapter.

Seven months of isolation and quarantining at home made me feel absolutely disconnected. During the summer of 2020, I knew I was attending Montclair State University in the fall, but the question was whether or not it would be worth it to dorm on campus.

After deliberating, my family and I concluded that living on campus would help me turn to the next chapter and step into a somewhat normal college experience — or so we hoped.

September rolled around and I was all settled in my new college dorm. But I would soon find out that my dorm would be the only “normal” aspect of my freshman college experience.

When I think of college, the first image that comes to mind is the “Pitch Perfect” scene of Beca walking through her campus involvement fair, meeting new people and finding her fit. I would soon find out 2020 college freshmen would not get to experience that, or really much of anything.

My daily life consisted of sitting at my desk in my dorm, in front of a computer screen, with my camera off, listening to professors who probably did not even know I was there. After weeks, the loneliness of sitting in a dorm all day and attending online classes where I knew no one began to take a toll on me.

Why wouldn’t I go to a dining hall or a club meeting and try to meet people? Well, the dining hall was take-out only at the time, not allowing for any human interactions or exchanges. The entire Student Center would eventually close altogether in the spring semester. As for clubs, I had no idea where these took place, or even what was taking place.

Last year, I was lucky enough to meet two friends on campus. It may be hard to believe after this semester, but during the height of the pandemic, the campus was absolutely empty.

Walking around campus, you would see maybe 50 people altogether. Car Parc Diem was never filled past the third floor, if that. Just when we were beginning to feel like we were breaking out of isolation and loneliness, residents were suddenly not allowed to visit other residence halls and we went right back to that feeling of isolation.

We felt like we were chickens without heads trying to learn how to be freshmen in college, with no guidelines or help.

This year, our eyes were wide at the flourishing of campus life and walking into Sam’s Place, I was stunned. To see tables filled, lines for food and people in general was a shock.

Last year, I had one in-person class, and I was one of five students who were actually in the classroom. So, walking into a classroom where I had to actively look for an open seat was surreal. Sports games, club meetings, in-person classes, a student-infested quad — these were all things I was not accustomed to. It felt as though I had just moved into Montclair State and was now beginning my journey.

My friends and I always joke that last year was the “forgotten year” we managed to get through. We all can agree we are only now beginning to feel like college students, our second year in. I’m still learning how to adjust to a college life where I have to actually walk to my classes, and where it seems new clubs are emerging every week.

So, to anyone who feels like it’s their first year on campus, no matter if you’re an actual freshman, or if you’re a senior who is struggling to adjust back to “normal” college life, just know you are not alone.

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