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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Students reflect on highs, lows of returning to campus

From extracurriculars to exams, students discuss the transition to in-person operations and what parts of in-person learning they wish continued

By LYRA FARRELLfeatures@theaggie.org

As the first in-person quarter since the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, many feel a new appreciation for the activities that they missed out on during the four virtual quarters. For others, it has been jarring to suddenly return to in-person exams and large lecture halls again. Some students say there have been some growing pains arriving on campus, or returning to it, during this transitional quarter, but the consensus is that students are happy to be back — and eager to share their favorite fall quarter moments.

Nishi Nair, a second-year sociology and economics major, said being back in person enabled her to finally join and feel connected in student organizations since their meetings are no longer held online.

“I think my favorite part has just been getting involved in extracurricular activities,” Nair said. “My first year at Davis was last year and it was all remote and all at home, so I didn’t join any extracurriculars because it just felt like more time on Zoom.” 

Nair said that she felt even her academic possibilities were limited by her first year being entirely virtual. 

“Especially with classes, I never felt like I really transitioned to college last year because it felt like I was still in high school,” Nair said. “But this year, getting to really interact with my professors and being able to absorb the information better when I’m in class and getting to make that connection with my professor and even with other peers, I get to finally meet people in my major and we get to bond over the classes we’re taking.”

Maddie Iwanyc, a third-year biological sciences major, said one of her favorite parts of being back on campus is finally getting to be a Residence Hall Community Advisor (CA) — a position she applied for before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m currently a community advisor on campus so I would say one of my favorite parts of being back on campus is being able to finally fulfil my role,” Iwanyc said. “I wasn’t able to do it last year since not many students were on campus, but now that I’m back, it’s been great getting to know my residents and just seeing people transition back into somewhat of a normal school year and seeing them have the opportunities that many people missed out on last year.”

Makenna Stever, a fourth-year applied mathematics major, is a part of an a cappella group on campus which remained active over quarantine, although she said they were missing many important components necessary for a fully enriching musical experience. 

“During the entire year that we spent in quarantine, it was really tough to learn music,” Stever said. “We tried our best to do things in a new, adjusted way, but it was difficult. I didn’t get to see my friends, and we really weren’t making music all together as a group at the same time. So now, getting to see everyone’s faces and getting to actually work on stuff in person is just a breath of fresh air; it just takes the stress right off of my shoulders, and it was something that I was really missing.” 

Though students are happy to be back, many have found the transition somewhat challenging. In Iwanyc’s experience, going back to in-person exams has been difficult after getting to take them from the comfort of home last year. 

“I had a genetics test which wasn’t open-note, it wasn’t collaborative, it wasn’t over Canvas, you didn’t get extended time,” Iwanyc said. It was the 2-hour time, you had to sit there [with] a scantron, a pencil and that was that […] I don’t want to say it was a shock — but not having done that for a year and a quarter, I was out of practice.”

Kara Beightol, a third-year psychology major, also preferred the quieter environment that online exams allowed.

“I find though that I prefer online testing, not because we get open notes or anything but because it’s a lot easier to sit on your own in your room and do a test and not feel stressed out about having 100 students around you,” Beightol said.  

Although Beightol finds it more difficult to focus on in-person tests, she finds it helpful to now be surrounded by peers during normal class time. 

“When you’re in class, it’s much easier to pay attention and focus when you have people that are working with you,” Beightol said.

Nair says that ultimately, her favorite part of returning to in-person instruction has been making connections that she previously wasn’t given the opportunity to make.

“This year, getting to join a bunch of on-campus groups and clubs and getting to not only join, but meet in person and make new friends has been such a different experience,” Nair said. “I especially love living […] a life separate from what my home life was.”

Written by: Lyra Farrell — features@theaggie.org 


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