I flew back home planning only to stay for the duration of spring break then return to campus to finish off the spring semester. But this all changed on Friday, March 13, when I was woken from a nap to the news that the semester was moving online, and I had a week to move my things out of the dorms. The next day I flew from Sacramento to Ontario to pack up my freshman year of college.
After talking to my friends and other freshmen, it seemed as though life at ULV was finally starting to go well. One thing they do not tell you about your first semester of college is that it is challenging — not necessarily academically, but mentally and emotionally. I consider myself an extrovert and finding friends has never been hard for me, but college was different and it took me my entire first semester to find my place where I felt I truly belonged. This semester I was enrolled in four classes for my major, and I loved it; I enjoyed my schoolwork, I rushed a sorority and I met so many new people along the way which only added to my social experience on campus.
Most of the people I had met on campus are local to Southern California. My hometown of Grass Valley is located in Nevada County, not to be mistaken with the state of Nevada, and is heavily agricultural. I live on a 25-acre plot of land that lies about 20 to 30 minutes from the main town, and is separated from neighbors.
Due to where I live, my wifi connection is spotty and not ideal for online education. Before each Zoom session I have to restart my wifi router, and have often had to remind my professors of my poor wifi situation. One day the connection completely went out and I had to go to the Starbucks parking lot in order to attend my classes.
Like most college students, financial stability has proved an issue. When life was normal pre-COVID-19, I worked at a wedding catering company, which I loved. But due to social distancing regulations, there are no more weddings for the time being which has left the company with no business. I filed for unemployment but my application was denied, leaving me to search for a job during a time when unemployment has only skyrocketed as the days go by. However, I do feel lucky because I got hired at a local bagel shop that I wanted to work at over the summer, which leaves me currently working every day of the week while having to balance school at the same time.
Within the time frame of a week, I had more than just my first year of college taken from me; my dog passed away, Coachella was postponed and I had to say goodbye to my sorority, my friends and to Southern California, which I have no idea when I will see again. With the guidelines put in place, I also felt as though my newfound freedom was stripped from me, and all of this has taken a lot of time to really deal with. However, I have finally come to terms with the fact that this really is my “new normal,” and I do not know if that is a good thing or not.
Sheridan Lee, a freshman journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.