By Rebecca Reeves
Last year college students dealt with a year full of uncertainty and COVID-19 restrictions. Now there are little to no restrictions left and some are feeling a wide range of emotions. Students at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor are having to adjust to going to a school where no one must wear a mask or stand six feet apart from other people.
According to an article written by the Department of Psychiatry for the University of Michigan, the feeling of isolation that students experienced last year will carry over to this year. When the pandemic started, students were removed from their friends and the activities they enjoyed. Then the protocols that were put into place because of the virus only fueled the feelings of loneliness.
Latrell Bowen, a sophomore graphic design major, started college amidst the global pandemic. After having only small gatherings to look forward to last year, he has been looking forward to meeting with people again at the different events hosted by clubs and organizations on campus.
“It’s really cool that we get to go and connect with each other,” Bowen said. There are still concerns surrounding the virus, but “if we just stay safe and stay cautious,” then hopefully everyone can continue to meet new people and have fun.
School leaders are keeping a close eye on how students are adjusting to campus life this semester. Alexia Bowe, Resident Director at Lord Hall, observed residents leaving their dorm rooms and becoming involved in different activities.
“I think there are still going to be some people that are going to be reclusive, but I also feel that you can see that people are excited to talk to each other, reach out, and hang out,” said Bowe.
Evan Thompson, writer for TheBestSchools.org, reported that students are experiencing re-entry anxiety when it comes to going back to school after a year of COVID-19.
Thompson writes that students are adjusting to all the differences between last year and this year.
For instance, last year in residential dining in Bawcom Student Union, students had to wait to be served at different stations. Angela Bowers, a senior Transformational Development major, noticed the difference this year.
“It’s kind of really weird,” Bowers said about how everything is so different. One day, she went into lunch and asked a server if she could get lettuce for her burger and the server told her she could serve herself now.
“I found that so odd because last year we were not allowed to do that,” Bowers said. “It’s really strange.”
She commented that not only can students now serve themselves, but classrooms are now full.
“This normal is so completely different,” Bowers said, and noted that it will take some getting used to.
Rainesford Stauffer, writer for the online magazine Apartment Therapy, reported in a recent article that students are wanting more out of college this year. According to that article, both old and new students alike want the opportunity to be involved in different activities around campus and get to know new people. This is a theme many UMHB students echoed.
“We get to live somewhat of a normal college life,” Rachel Ball, a sophomore Business Administration major, said. However, she said that she is aware of the ongoing pandemic.
“There’s still the fear of contracting COVID,” Ball, said, and that she wishes there were more of an official transition from one phase of carefulness to the next. At the same time, she is liking how she can make more friendships and be a part of a community.