Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

How the Pandemic Changed College Life

Three college seniors talk about how their lives have changed.

Photo courtesy of NNS.

Photo courtesy of NNS.

College and COVID-19 were not what students expected in 2020.

Yet here we are.

Today, students from the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service journalism capstone class at Marquette University share their experiences this semester.

‘I wish I could go back to the things how it used to be’

Abdallah Alqaoud. courtesy of NNS.

Abdallah Alqaoud. courtesy of NNS.

Like many students in schools, colleges, and universities; the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for me to learn, and how I am able to attend my classes on campus.

Personally, the pandemic has made it challenging for me this semester to do my schoolwork and try to catch up in all my classes. Not only is the work doubled but it has made it extremely stressful. For  example if you wanted to discuss a paper in class, it’s easy to do so verbally  instead of writing a 150-word response in an online setting. It  may not seem like much, but it adds up when it’s multiple classes, and it can be at times confusing, at least for me.

Commuting has also been a little scary for me. Sometimes I have to drive to Marquette from the City of Waukesha, which is where I live, and other days I frequently take the Milwaukee bus.

Especially during the pandemic that can get scary, because it puts me in higher risk of being exposed to the coronavirus, since I am overweight and have high blood pressure. But the only silver lining I can say about the pandemic is that it has made me more health conscious with constantly washing my hands and going on a diet.

COVID-19 has also made it harder to see my friends and family, attend sports games, movie theaters, and attending an in-person event on my campus, which I loved to do.

I wish I could see all my professors in person, and I wish I could go back to the things how it used to be. Unfortunately, due to the rising numbers of coronavirus cases, and the current federal government not taking action, I unfortunately don’t see this ever going away at least not anytime soon.

Abdallah Alqaoud

‘Should I just go hang out and stop worrying?’

Roy Bowler. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Roy Bowler. Photo courtesy of NNS.

It’s hard to make up a story each week to tell your friends why you cannot hang out with them. But that is the reality I am faced with as a 21-year-old college senior. It is the reality I am faced with if I want to stay safe and healthy.

I have not been able to spend quality time with most of my friends and rugby teammates in over eight months. I want to see them, but I feel like there is no responsible way.

I feel that some of my friends may think that I am being too cautious. They invite me out to spend time with them on the weekends, and normally, I would love to do this, I just turned 21!

I even wonder if I am being too cautious. My friends get together most weekends, and they have been fine –a few have had to quarantine here and there. Should I just go hang out and stop worrying? The quarantine is only two weeks, I could just relax at home for two weeks, better to get it while I am in college then when I am home with family. But I know that once I go out, I will get sick and that will feel worse than staying in.

I especially do not want my friends to think I am lame or that I do not want to spend time with them. But how do I say, “I do not think it’s safe to go out” to someone who already is out? So, I kept giving excuses. Eventually my friends stopped asking me to go out. They must know. And that is fine, in a way it makes my life easier. I hope that when things go back to normal, they ask me to go out again.

Roy Bowler

‘We have had a COVID-19 scare almost every week’

Autumn Hirchert. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Autumn Hirchert. Photo courtesy of NNS.

The pandemic started, and the world stopped. At the beginning of 2020, the thought that I would be missing the second half of my junior year and also my senior year of college never crossed my mind. The hope that this would all be over in a couple months, that the page would turn, and life would be normal again was still alive and well.

Now I am in the last weeks of the fall semester of my senior year and I feel like these metaphorical pages must be held together by glue.

Being a student during the COVID-19 pandemic is a lot of things, but it’s not easy. The hardest part for me is the independent learning. I didn’t know this until now, but I am truly a person who thrives in a group environment.

Receiving a video, slideshow or sometimes even just a packet online does not measure up to the enrichment of a classroom. On top of learning what is going on in your classes, you have to learn the best way to teach it to yourself, the best way to stay on top of assignments, and the best way to be successful alone.

When I say “alone,” I say it with a grain of salt, because my seven other roommates have been along for every step of the way. We turned our kitchen table into a library space to take our classes together. We motivate each other to keep going when school feels like too much. But at the same time, living in a house with seven roommates poses its own unique set of challenges. When all of us are in one room, we are a total of eight, dangerously close to quarantine capacity. On top of that, it is extremely difficult to keep tabs on eight people who are all sharing the same kitchen. Which is a very common occurrence for any college student. We all go to class, we all go to the library, we all go grocery shopping. I am not exaggerating when I say that we have had a COVID-19 scare almost every week of this semester.

Many of us, including myself, actually ended up testing positive. To say that all of us are ready for the semester to be over, for a break from the stress, is an understatement.

Looking forward, as a college senior, the world greets me with a crashing job market and an online life not much different from the one I’m living. I am hopeful, waiting every day, for this page of the story to turn. The next chapter of this book is going to have to have some strong main characters anyway.

Autumn Hirchert

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

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