Post-Pandemic Back To School: What Has Changed?

Hello everyone! I have a new post that’s a little bit more personal today in regards to college in a “post” pandemic world.

Of course, the pandemic isn’t over globally, but this is the first time in a long while since I’ve been back to school. A new school year is already stressful, and on top of that I’m a sophomore who’s never been on campus before. Combine that with a lack of in-person schooling for over a year and a half and you get a very anxious student.

But, what was my experience like? How did the first week of classes go? What is it like trying to make friends when you can barely hear people talk through their masks? In today’s post, I want to cover my story of these past few weeks and what college is like for a new student post-pandemic.

A Little Background

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In case you didn’t know, I’m a sophomore at my local state university: a medium-sized school with about 6,000 students and a fairly small campus. Because of the pandemic, I’ve only been to campus twice for tours over a year ago at this point.

I’m also an English major with a concentration in writing and a communications minor. A mouthful, I know!

Related post: How To Prep For Back To School

Summer Break

Summer break felt like forever. Although online school was still a time of learning, it definitely didn’t have the same feel of in-person learning. I found online learning to be a little difficult, but it had a few benefits- waking up later, less driving, and less interactions for better or worse. Most of my professors also reduced assignments: getting rid of entire literature books, units and sections. I could easily get by in a class I found not too difficult.

Of course, it lacked a bunch of benefits in-person learning had. It didn’t really feel like school, even though I was technically taking the same number of classes and learning roughly the same material. So for that reason, summer break felt longer.

I struggled a little, especially the closer I got to the new school with usual first-day-of-college worries. Where are my classes? Where would I sit? What if I hated a class right away? What ifs after what ifs. I knew a lot of my fears are arbitrary and won’t really matter- especially because both freshmen and sophomores are new on campus. Meaning, half the campus was new and it made me feel a bit better.

The Week Before

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The week before classes started was roughly the same as previous weeks. But, I focused more on buying books, getting a new backpack, supplies and of course a new mask.

Two days before my first day of class, I had to pick up my ID, which gave me a chance to look around campus. It was fairly busy despite classes not have started, but the people living on campus had moved in. In addition, there was activities going on all the time, so it felt like the real experience. I had a little bit of trouble navigating as everything looked so different with so many people, but otherwise not a noteworthy experience.

I am very glad I went early for a visit because I could finally relax a little. I was really, really anxious the night before for a plethora of reasons, but by the time I came home I was mostly feeling better. Instead of being 90% anxious and 10% excited, I became about 50/50. Which, still sounds like a lot, but for me that’s a pretty good ratio.

Related posts: What You Need As A Commuter Student

First Day Of Classes

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The night before was a bit nerve-wracking as I had to make sure I had everything ready, but also the weather was being unpredictable because of the leftover rain from the hurricane. The storm was already causing tornadoes, and it didn’t really help the situation. But, the show had to go on.

Thankfully the rain shifted and it rained during the night, so my first day was a cloudy start and sunny end. I got up early- 6:20 to be exact- to get ready to carpool with my friend to school. I was nervous, but I was feeling a lot better than I was before I picked up my ID.

I have nearly 2 hours of free time before my first class, so it gave me an opportunity to see to see the online portion of my classes. I quickly noticed throughout the day that professors were prepared for the worst: we could go back to online at any moment. Everything we could need was already online, which is nice to see assignments early and have everything organized.

Another thing I noticed was that everyone was wearing their masks and wearing them correctly. My university has been pretty strict: required vaccines before the majority of other colleges in my area, and professors were required to kick out any students not wearing a mask. So, pretty understandable.

I asked my professor about eating in class- I have chronic nausea that requires me to eat small, frequent meals and I have no lunch breaks on Thursdays. I learned it was a grey area for the school- no information was given about eating in class. One of my professors said no eating as she’s immunocompromised and wants to be as safe as possible, but otherwise it was a grey area. He promised me to have a class discussion on what we felt was safe and make a decision based on what we felt, which was very nice of him. I half expected him just to say no.

There is some social distancing, but not a lot. In classrooms where we have the space we tend to. It’s not required but generally people keep a little distance anyways when people don’t know each other to be polite. My university isn’t crammed besides on the stairs and main walkways anyways.

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Otherwise, a fairly normal experience. Professors warned we could go back to online at any time, masks indoors, and normal actives and classes.

The masks are still frustrating. They still hurt my ears and makes it hard to communicate when you can’t hear each other. As someone who usually smiles and laughs instead of talking, it’s been a difficult transition to talking more and expressing myself in other ways.

But it’s better than being online, in some ways. It’s nice to feel like a student again- driving to school, attending classes, maybe even joining a club or two. It makes me feel like I’m not missing out anymore or feed into the fear that all 4 years will be online. Of course, it’s not perfect, but I’m glad we’re getting closer to a normal reality. I’m crossing my fingers that Fall 2022 we’ll all be maskless, but that’s just a hope.

Related Post: What You Need To Know About Choosing A Major

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post! I really wanted to share my experience not only for myself and my regular readers, but to students who are freshmen or soon-to-be freshmen.

Also, this is all based in my current experience in the States. I’m not sure what it’s like elsewhere in the world right now, but in the US we’re in a major in-between area that varies from building, business, town, state and federal levels. My university is being careful, and this has been my overall experience the first week.

25 thoughts on “Post-Pandemic Back To School: What Has Changed?

  1. I can definitely say that going back to school is better than online classes. While online classes helped during quarantine, I couldn’t be more happy to be in school. Going back to school was a little nerve wracking. I was a little nervous lol and I guess that was due to the fact that I had been away from the forewalls of my university for so long. Things don’t seem too different being back in school just COVID protocols are being observed fully. In all, I’m extremely glad to be back in school. Thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I mostly agree! Although I didn’t find online classes hard, it was definitely depriving me of a real, college experience. I was also nervous! I was especially nervous as it was first time I’ve ever been on campus but now as I write this in school, I’ve been adjusting well! Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience.

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  2. I love knowing that, as a smaller school, your college is better able to make it a safe place for everyone! In-person is definitely an easier way to communicate, so it is good to see schools opening back up responsibly.

    I hope that you are able to eat as you need to and resolve the grey areas with your professors!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a student in Canada and our situation is really similar where there’s a lot of back and forth in decisions about the class formats and such. This semester none of the courses I am taking were offered in person while I was selecting them but now a lot of my friends have in person classes. It’s a strange time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a strange time, people can’t seem to make up their minds. I hope after all this, the school decides to have online options as well. It would be nice to do classes online and in person as a mix.

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  4. My daughter went back to school this month and although she has to take a lateral flow test twice a week, she’s loving being back with her friends and having face-to-face teaching. Her school is all set up for online learning too, but fingers crossed we won’t need to do that again any time soon. Good luck at college, thank you for sharing your experience! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we have a lot of things in place not only if we go back to online learning, but if someone is sick or exposed, they have the materials at home ready. Although I’ve learned recently they’re not doing the best in terms of protocols right now, I think we might be good. Like you said, fingers crossed.

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    1. I actually didn’t mind the online classes! Granted, I didn’t have to drive to school and I had never been on campus so it wasn’t like I had any friends to miss. I was definitely anxious the first week! It quickly got better, but I do definitely worry about going back online.

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  5. Omg that is hard being a freshman they year the pandemic happen! That must be so difficult I can’t image. I thot it was hard for me bc I was in college couple years before the pandemic happen. I thot transitioning from in person to online was difficult bc I was use to being in person. Being totally new I would of been a hot mess lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being a freshman did have one advantage! While everyone was missing their friends, professors, and the campus in general, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity yet to miss out on anything. It was definitely frustrating coming back because I was a sophomore, and they completely skipped all activities they’d usually give to freshmen. I was pretty lost! But, it’s not too bad now

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  6. Thank you for sharing what it’s been like to go back to school. I can imagine how nerve wracking it must be, especially during a pandemic, but I’m glad to hear that people are following guidelines. Hopefully things go back to normal soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that they’ve made it such a safe space for you all! Definitely over online school, it’s absolutely emotionally draining and makes studying so much more difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s great that you’re back in person, it helps that it’s a smaller school. Online classes were difficult for me, I had trouble focusing and felt emotionally/mentally drained and tired, but unfortunately, this semester is back online. The only perk is that I don’t have to commute!

    It sucks that your freshman year was online (my brother experienced that too) but I’m happy that you are readjusting to school life and feeling like a student again.

    Fingers crossed it stays in person.

    Loren | plaidandsugar.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being a small school helps, but they’re definitely being strict with the rules (or, as strict as they can be on a college campus). There’s definitely some pros and cons to online schooling, but one thing I learned that I never knew about myself is that I could not sit still! I’m never normally like that in a regular school setting. I’m hoping we stay in-person, but I’m having my doubts… hopefully though!

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  9. I personally don’t go to school anymore so I can’t imagine what students are going through right now with all the changes etc. I know local schools are being quite strict and that if cases rise then masks will be put in place. I hope you’re doing okay and can adjust but it sounds that being in a smaller school helps! Em x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every school is very different at the moment! Many people I’ve talked to are online-only so it really varies. I’m doing alright at the moment! I just hope we lose masks before I graduate, that would be nice. Thanks for commenting Em!

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  10. Personal insights are good for readers to know more about the person. I’m done with studies so not experiencing this myself, but feel the kids in the family going through this. Certainly more learning and personal growth while being present in campus, home schooling doesn’t compare. Xx
    Isa A. Blogger
    https://www.lifestyleprism.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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