Freshmen adjust to working remotely


Kenyon Edmond

Students sit in the shade of trees on Friday

By Jared Ebanks, Assistant Features Editor

As students embark on a new school year with new obstacles and policies, everyone is working to adapt. The University, along with its student body, will throw its hat in the ring as one of the universities that will open its doors to students this semester amidst a global pandemic. 

While returning students may become quickly accustomed to the newly adopted policies given their familiarity with campus, this year’s freshman class will be thrown into a completely new environment. Testing twice a week, limited access to buildings and guided walkways all around the University to promote social distancing are just a few factors that will greatly affect this new class. 

Weeks ago, the University officially announced to students via Self-Service how many of their classes would be offered strictly online or in person. For a majority of students, only one or two of their classes require them to be on campus. This caused debate for many about whether it was worth it to come to campus.

For some, the new environment and experiences were too tempting to pass up. For others, completing the semester remotely from home was the most cost-effective and safest option. 

Ishita Purwar, freshman in LAS, currently resides in India. Purwar has decided to complete the fall semester remotely, as only one of her classes was scheduled to be in person this fall — MACS 261: Survey of World Cinema.

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    “It didn’t make much sense to me to come to campus to just stay in my dorm and do online classes because the point of being on campus is to get the life experience and also to interact with your friends. It just won’t be the same,” Purwar said. 

    Limited social interaction will be a shared experience among all students at the University this fall. While bars follow social distancing guidelines and have implemented new age requirements, most students will look to congregate among their close friends. However, restrictions on visitors inside individual living spaces such as apartments and dorms will make this difficult. 

    For freshmen who have not established their social circle, meeting and creating new friendships will have an added level of difficulty. The University is doing all that it can to offer situations where friendships can be fostered over online events such as Virtual Quad Day. 

    Purwar’s ability to get to campus in a timely manner was not an option for her either. Only four days ago did Purwar receive her student visa to travel to campus, as communication with the U.S. Embassy in India was difficult.

    “But back then I had no idea when my visa appointment was going to be because there was no news from the U.S. Embassy,” Purwar said. 

    While she currently has the visa, coming to campus now would mean self-quarantining for 14 days, an additional factor for Purwar to consider. 

    Rami Assaf is a freshman in Engineering. The Chicago native decided to complete classes from home. On Aug. 10, Assaf reworked his schedule around online-only classes. 

    “2020 has brought about many unforeseen changes to my life and family,” Assaf said via email. “There was and continues to be so much uncertainty regarding approaching college and life. The unexpected nature of (COVID-19) motivated me to take the semester from home.”

    While all events will be held online this semester, some aspects of campus remain unseen and unfamiliar to both Assaf and Purwar. However, the University is doing all it can via email to keep remote students informed on opportunities available to them from their laptops. 

    “I have received information from the University regarding campus events and activities through my email,” Assaf said. “They provided links to access the virtual alternative to what would have been an on-campus event.”  

    Purwar has an added obstacle in the success of her academics this semester: the major time zone difference. Purwar is 10 hours and 30 minutes ahead of CDT, resulting in a completely different schedule than most of her peers. 

    “I was pretty much expecting this when I decided to complete the semester online,” Purwar said. “I’ve modified my schedule, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem because I’m a late sleeper; plus my classes go from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.”  

    Purwar has had the ability to see firsthand how two vastly different areas are handling the pandemic: her residing country and the university she attends in the states.

    “It’s been so many months that people have been home that this is so psychological now,” Purwar said. “We don’t care about it. Let it happen because people are missing out on their jobs. Companies are going bankrupt.”

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