Nothing could have prepared students from across the country for the transition into online learning that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Throughout the time of online classes, all I wanted to do was to return to the traditional in-person classroom setting. But now that Fairfield University is entirely back to in-person learning and experiences, the excitement and anticipation that was building up since March 2020 for this moment has left, and I now just feel anxious and confused. 

Why is it that I feel like this? 

I was a first-year student at Fairfield when the pandemic hit, so the majority of my college experience thus far has been a watered-down, online version. I only had one true semester of in-person classes and exams, and now that everything’s back to as normal as can be, I feel wildly unprepared. 

The same jitters I got as a first year have returned. In-person classes feel like a foreign concept. But even moreso, in-person exams are even stranger and unknown to me. 

It’s like I forgot how to be in class.

The regular hour-fifteen classes feel twice as long now that we’re back in person; being online made it way too easy to zone out or lose focus for a minute or two…or more. I need to retrain myself to be able to focus for the full time. 

Another hard part of the switch back to in-person classes is that being on Zoom made it difficult to meet people in your classes because you lost the opportunity to have small talk before class with the person sitting next to you, or lean over and ask a question or laugh about something your professor said. 

That small talk skill has not been used by me in such a long time, that it is so deeply buried and I am unsure of how to access it. 

Making friends in your classes is so helpful and can make or break a class for you. It was actually the thing I was most looking forward to doing, but now that the opportunity is there, it seems like everyone is a little bit unsure of how to go about doing that. 

There is definitely a noticeable hesitation among people in classes to talk to one another and at times it can be difficult to do that because some professors have asked for students to spread out to allow for social distancing. 

Now you can’t just lean over and ask a question to the person sitting next to you because they are too far away.

Before the pandemic, I would make an effort to ask a friend in my classes to grab lunch or breakfast before class.

COVID has made me apprehensive about asking someone to lunch; it still feels a little unusual to hang out with someone outside of my immediate friend group because I don’t want to risk being exposed to COVID by someone who I don’t necessarily have to see. 

Further, one of the things I enjoyed about being online was that I felt a new sense of flexibility in my schedule. 

Classes were on Zoom, so I could do them from anywhere. 

I could pick my preferred location — usually a library study room — bring a few snacks and camp out there to take classes and do work. However, with classes being in person, that flexibility gets lost because you have designated places to be at designated times. 

That extra 10 minutes between classes you had to yourself while classes were online is now spent walking to your next class instead of doing a last minute reading or a quick review before a quiz, or getting a snack and filling up your water bottle. 

Sometimes I would take that break between classes to just lay in my bed and close my eyes and take a break. But now I feel so go, go, go all the time. I didn’t realize how much I really enjoyed and benefited from having those 10 minutes to close my eyes until I lost it. 

Though I didn’t expect to have as hard a time of adjusting to being back in person for classes as I am, I am still incredibly grateful we are back in person. 

No more Zoom fatigue — a huge win for students and professors alike. 

And even though it is hard to adjust back into being in in-person classes, at least we are back in person. 

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