Learning to Love Being on Campus Again

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Back in March of 2020, as COVID-19 began to change our world like no one had seen before, I alongside countless people across the globe wanted nothing more than to get back to our normal lives. I had just barely started my second semester as a freshman before we were all sent home and forced to contend with the challenges of online learning. I had countless thoughts in my head during this time such as regretting not having said goodbye to the seniors I wouldn’t see again and questioning why the college experience I worked so hard to get and become involved with was taken from me. But as online schooling continued and it became more apparent that I wasn’t going to have a ‘normal’ college experience, I eventually became used to it.  


I didn’t enjoy not being able to walk around campus and see people or not having full access to the opportunities that come with being in-person, but I did appreciate how easy it was to not have to commute every day and be able to stay in the comfort of my home. As time went on, I forgot what I wanted to return to in the first place and became complacent with taking my classes from home. When the announcement was made that Iona would be returning to in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester, despite it being what I wanted more than anything when the pandemic started, I wasn’t immediately enthusiastic.  


Not only had I gotten used to the ease and comfort of taking classes from home, but I also knew that with two years of students and friends having graduated throughout the course of the pandemic, I wasn’t going to be returning to exactly what I loved about college and left a year and a half ago. For these reasons, it was initially a surreal experience coming on to campus for the first time as a lot of those realities began to settle in. However, it was when I stepped into my first in-person class for my major that I started to remember why it was so important to return to campus.  


Actually being physically present in a room of my peers that were studying the same thing as me brought a sense of community that I hadn’t experienced throughout the entirety of my time being online. Having the chance as a Media and Strategic Communications major to actually utilize studio equipment that I had never gotten the chance to work with also brought back a sense of passion for my studies that I hadn’t felt in a long time. While coming back in person may not be as easy or accessible as online learning, it wasn’t until I came back on campus that I felt excited and proud to be a student again.  


The transition back to in-person learning isn’t going to be without its hurdles. There are going to be a lot of changes and trials that will be a learning experience for all of us and none of us can just pretend that the time that we lost over the pandemic didn’t happen. Even though we can’t get back the lost opportunities and experiences, it’s going to be important to make the most out of the time that we still do have.