As freshmen at the University of Massachusetts are adjusting to their new classes, students share many mixed feelings about what they think the rest of the fall semester will hold, both academically and socially.
Some were devastated, while others seemed to accept the decision. Some decided to defer, while others are going to push through the online semester. No matter the response, first-year students at UMass have a lot to say about the fall semester.
Freshman English major Aleen Karakouzian is one of the many students who intended to live on campus, with a set move-in date for Aug. 15. Having “already purchased everything [after being] promised since June that I would be allowed an on-campus experience, I am devastated,” said Karakouzian in an email.
While she is thankful she lives in the state and is not left without housing, Karakouzian says she “foresees staying focused being quite difficult, considering that I am doing work in a room associated with rest.” She said however, that she plans to help keep focused by using an app called ‘Flora,’ which “locks” the use of her phone during class hours, something other students may benefit from.
Though Karakouzian feels “excited for this new chapter of [her] life to start, [she is] also quite disappointed.” She urges everyone to stay safe and stay cautious, pointing out that while UMass may be known for parties, everyone should “be safe now so that we can have fun later.”
Paris O’Brien, an undecided freshman in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, is similarly disappointed at the closure of campus, but states via email that she would rather stay home than have an outbreak occur.
O’Brien shared her plan for staying focused: “I plan to check my student email every morning, make a list of assignments… and finish them within [a set] time frame,” she said. She also has made a “makeshift workspace” to mimic a classroom setting.
O’Brien says that she is not sure how to feel in this unprecedented time but will try to remain optimistic.
Ryan Moore, a freshman accounting major, will be learning off-campus. Unlike Karakouzian and O’Brien, Moore made the decision to stay home after the original reopening plan was announced.
“I will be learning at UMass Oxford, my bedroom in the small town of Oxford, Mass.,” said Moore.
Moore feels relatively secure in his plan to keep a rough schedule each day, as he did when the last few months of his high school senior year were remote. Despite this, Moore states that his biggest worry is keeping up his mental health and academics without being able to see anyone.
“I particularly rely on face-to-face relationships with my instructors to do well in classes… so [remote learning] is going to be tough,” said Moore.
Still, Moore is actively looking for clubs and virtual events to attend in order to have some sense of community as well as make friends.
Similar to Moore, freshman biochemistry and molecular biology major Isabel Cruz did not intend to come to campus following the initial fall reopening plan.
“I intend to stay focused and on task throughout the semester by establishing a routine… and pretend that I’m not actually home [as to] not get distracted,” said Cruz via email.
In addition to the lack of in-person communication, “another major problem I foresee is the internet connection… and losing power,” said Cruz. As for engaging in the community, Cruz plans to immerse herself in virtual events as well as group chats that students make.
Cruz offered a sentiment that many freshmen may relate to during this uncertain time.
“I am feeling a bit nervous, since I am starting at a new school,” said Cruz. “But I feel that once I get started and [have a] routine, I won’t [be as] nervous anymore.”
Liza Flandreau can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @liza_flandreau.