University of Connecticut students are excited to once again be in lecture halls after attending classes from behind a screen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic a year and a half ago.
Isabella Sitt, a first semester student, is one of many incoming freshmen excited to meet new people after spending her senior year of high school taking hybrid classes and not seeing her friends.
“I haven’t really talked to a lot of people in a long time, and it is a lot of getting used to trying to meet new people, being comfortable in the classroom and actually learning again,” Sitt said.
Jasmine Metcalf is another freshman navigating college for the first time. She said life at the university is what she was expecting before the pandemic.
“It was definitely similar to what I was expecting before COVID. The classes are still really big and everyone is participating,”Jasmine Metcalf, UConn student
The university has a COVID-19 dashboard providing the public with a “color-coded system” to indicate guidelines students and staff need to follow when they are on campus.
These guidelines are determined by the number of cases present at all five UConn campuses.
According to the dashboard website, the university is following “Orange COVID-19 Gathering Guidelines,” meaning students and staff are required to follow several guidelines, including mandatory mask-wearing indoors.
Metcalf is happy to see professors implementing mask requirements and making sure everyone feels safe in the classroom.
“I like how the professors are emphasizing mask policies to make sure everyone is wearing their mask correctly,” Metcalf said.
The best part about being on campus for Metcalf has been seeing how inclusive professors and students are on campus.
“All the professors and all the people on campus seem very welcoming, and they are introducing everyone, which includes the sophomores because they weren’t really on campus last year,” Metcalf said.
Many returning sophomores spent their freshman year taking most, if not all, of their courses remotely, and many did not experience what student life is really like on campus.
Joaquin Bellomio is a third-semester political science major who feels like he is experiencing college for the first time.
“This is what I was hoping for when I came [to campus] last semester. Everything is very new to me. I am a sophomore but I very much feel like a freshman,” Bellomio said.
Bellomio has enjoyed his first week of classes and is looking forward to interacting with professors and having in-class discussions with his peers.
“I really thrive on participation and conversation, and that is something that was completely absent last semester that took a hit on the whole experience,” Bellomio said.
Despite missing out on opportunities his freshman year, he is looking forward to being back.
“It feels really good to be back and actually learning. I spent the whole last year taking classes but not really learning anything,” Bellomio said.
Like Bellomio, other students felt the pandemic had an impact on their education.
Maddy Cubberly, a fifth-year women’s gender and sexuality studies major, is one of many students who struggle with online classes, and she feels her education was negatively affected during the pandemic.
“I intentionally didn’t take a full course load; I took two or three classes both semesters,” Cubberly said.
Cubberly said this is something that impacted her ability to graduate on time.
“I transferred, which kind of impacted that, but the pandemic is what mostly impacted it because I didn’t want to take a lot of classes,” Cubberly said.
Even though Cubberly had a difficult time last semester, she is looking forward to being back.
“It is just really nice to see people,” she said.