Freshman Year: A Retrospective
Caleb White, Online Editor
Being an underclassman in the age of a pandemic is weird. Really weird.
All the usual things you expect from college are turned upside-down, and my experience as a freshman last year is a great example. With around 800 students on-campus at its peak, things were certainly quieter than expected, and with the limited availability of programs due to COVID precautions pre-vaccine, it was even more difficult to make friends. Although I was eventually able to make good friends in the spring, the fall semester was a trying time. Besides classwork, I would spend a lot of my free time in my dorm room playing video games, sometimes staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. and destroying my sleep schedule.
Which was an extremely terrible idea, by the way. Can’t stress that enough.
With the limitations on campus, however, I was also able to appreciate the small things more. Going to food trucks with friends, petting farm animals on Hound Day, and participating in clubs – even through Zoom – were a breath of fresh air (although I have my fingers crossed we don’t have to go back to virtual meetings anytime soon). One of my favorite places to go to while the weather was warm enough was the volleyball court, where the RAs would be playing almost every day of the week.
The community-building aspect of it, I think, is what really drew me in. The RAs at the court were welcoming to anyone wanting to join in, even if there was an odd number of players on both sides. Being able to meet new people who weren’t in my hall or my classes was refreshing, and most importantly, it pulled me out of my room and got me engaged with the community. One moment that stood out to me the most was when a senior RA I knew, Luke DiCicco, reached out to me during the shelter-in-place order to check if I was alright, physically and mentally.
Becoming an RA was an idea I was initially unsure about. But after the end of spring semester, I knew that integrating students into the community was something I wanted to be a part of – especially because I know what it’s like to be a freshman in the midst of the pandemic. Coming back to campus, making new connections at RA training, and getting to know my residents has only strengthened that resolve.
So, from this rumination on the ups and downs of my first year at school, I’ve come away with just two points of advice for freshmen – first, don’t take anything for granted. Of course, I think most of us have learned this the hard way after being stuck with virtual or hybrid learning for the past year and a half. But I’ve adopted a cautious optimism to make the most of it, especially knowing how things were in 2020. This relates to my second point – don’t be afraid to try new things. Part of college involves getting out of your comfort zone, so embrace the uncertainty and put yourself out there! There’s a huge amount of clubs looking for recruits after the pause from last year, and Assumption has some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met. I guarantee you’ll find your niche!