Over a year ago, on March 11, 2020, was the day that every single person in America’s lives would change. Many Americans would not expect how quickly their lives would change in an instant when the President declared a state of emergency due to the COVID pandemic. During this time, I was a senior in high school and until the start of the pandemic, I never really understood how quickly life could change. I learned to appreciate the life that I had and accept the fact that nothing is in my control and I could do nothing to make life go back to normal. Yes, it was sad because my senior year was cut short, but I survived the pandemic and so did all of my family and friends. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2020, UMass Boston informed their students that due to the still ongoing pandemic, they would continue online learning for the Fall 2020 semester. If I’m going to be honest, I was very relieved to hear that—mainly because I was not looking forward to driving to school every day and was still not comfortable in big crowds—but I was still sad I wouldn’t be able to be on campus. The first day of classes was very exciting, with meeting new people and being in a different learning environment. That excitement lasted for about a week, and after that it was extremely tiring to log onto zoom every single day. It was very different learning on Zoom, and at times was difficult. I’m sure UMass Boston and the UMass Boston faculty tried their best to accommodate these hard times with learning on Zoom, but we all had difficulty on Zoom, whether we were the ones learning or teaching. One of the hardest things about being on Zoom was that it was almost impossible to make new friends and have an actual social life with learning online. Being on Zoom made me not be able to have a full college experience or be able to see how UMass Boston really is as a school. Currently, I am not friends with any of my previous Zoom classmates and have rarely seen them on campus this year. Another hard thing was trying to contact students in the same class outside of school, but one of my saving graces was GroupMe. This is an app that allows students to stay in touch with other students who were in the same classes as them outside of the classroom. But, we would only contact each other if we had questions about homework or assignments, and after the semester we would not communicate at all. Overall, my thoughts on starting college on Zoom are very transparent; I didn’t like being on Zoom at all, which I’m sure is something most students can agree on. It was exhausting looking at the screen every day, having to show your face on camera and do assignments with a professor that you could only contact via email or on-screen. Going into the Spring 2021 semester was even worse, and all my classes felt like a drag online. I just wanted it to be over and for summer to just be there. It was definitely a strange experience and I am very glad that it is over.

The transition from Zoom to in-person classes this Fall 2021 semester was fairly easy, minus the fact that I still would be driving to school everyday. But, hey, if you're someone who loves driving every day, no shade. But, I just think driving every day is exhausting, especially with all the crazy drivers in Boston. Nevertheless, I was very excited to attend UMass Boston in person and see the beautiful campus and make some new friends. Although, some people told me that since UMass Boston is a commuter school, most students keep to themselves and aren’t very friendly. Some even believed that most students went to UMass Boston mainly to study and that it was very hard to make friends. But, to my surprise, that was not true at all. Within the first week of school, I had made multiple friends with people just walking by them going to class. Almost everyone I asked for directions or just talked to was very friendly and more than happy to help. Perhaps the social life at UMass Boston has changed due to the pandemic and students being kept inside for a whole year. I think my experience as a first-year student on Zoom and a second-year student on campus is very different, which is a good thing. I have found lifelong friends and I really love the vibe on campus and the classes. Overall, my thoughts on UMass Boston from what I have observed these past two months is that it is a beautiful campus with good education and filled with diverse students from all over the world that are, for the most part, very friendly. I hope that most students feel the same way as well.

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