First came social gatherings. Then came game days and spring break. Nearly three months into the fall semester, some students are struggling to adjust to not-so-new restrictions.
The transition has been especially hard on freshmen, many of whom had to postpone or cancel their proms and high-school graduations, only to miss out on key college experiences in the fall.
Ja-Miyah Hurry, a freshman majoring in studio art, was looking forward to leaving her small high school behind and taking in the expanse of campus. Cecelia Toscano, a freshman majoring in music composition, was also ready to explore her new environment.
“I was looking forward to getting involved, but with COVID-19, it’s so hard,” Toscano said.
It’s no secret that football games are a big deal at a University that continues to top NCAA charts. As students cope with a new kind of campus life, game days are difficult for them to leave behind.
“I was looking forward to getting that freshman experience and going to Bryant-Denny Stadium with everybody else,” said Emma Duncalf, a freshman majoring in nursing.
For Haley Wilson, a senior majoring in news media, missing game days felt like a damper on her last year of college. With the reduced number of tickets, many students are left with watching the game at their dorms or apartments.
“Tailgating is a really big deal and is really fun,” she said. “I feel like football is just not the same without it.”
Not only has the game day atmosphere been disrupted, but so has the atmosphere in the classroom and other campus-related events. Socializing and meeting new people play a big part in college life for some students.
“I miss being able to socialize with peers, and I also miss going to events,” said Chinenye Nwaogwugwu, a senior majoring in hospitality management.
Events like Bama Bound, Get On Board Day and Freshman Forum were held virtually this year. This was something Diamond Liggins, a freshman majoring in nursing, was hoping to be part of.
“I was looking forward to getting involved with campus organizations and going to Get On Board Day,” she said, noting that the virtual experience left her feeling disconnected instead of energized.
For Kelsey Bridgeforth, a junior majoring in history, it’s the little things she misses most.
“I miss the friendships I’ve made and being able to connect with other people,” she said. “I miss the convenience of just walking into the library and being able to eat at the cafe with friends.”
The virus has left some students with time on our hands to sit and reflect on what life was like before COVID-19. Jamie Bonner, a recent graduate of the University, challenged herself to make the most of isolation.
“COVID-19 did ruin my senior year, but it also made it better because it provided me more time to reflect on what I did incorrectly as an undergrad,” she said. “I realized that I never really applied myself as much as I have now.”
But for others, the pandemic has only added more stress to their final years at the University. As Maya Browning, a junior majoring in creative media, reflected on her previous years at the University, she recognized a shift in the energy on campus.
“Everything just feels so rushed,” Browning said. “Everyone is just getting to a destination and not enjoying the essence of college life, and it’s sad and depressing.”