c/o Tanvi Punja, Photo Editor

c/o Tanvi Punja, Photo Editor

After a summer of rest and relaxation, students returned to campus this past week, eager to get back into the groove of life at school. Following a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus has shifted back to an in-person structure, practically mirroring life before the pandemic.

First years arrived on campus before the rest of the student body on Wednesday, Sept. 1, moving into their dorms in the rain. Unlike last year, the class of 2025 was allowed to have fully-vaccinated family members help them move in, sending them off to college. However, the weather posed a bit of a challenge.

“I felt overwhelmed and tired, but excited to go to Wesleyan,” Lilah Steinberg ’25 said. “It was raining, which kind of sucked, and we had to lug all of our luggage through the rain.”

Once their parents left, first years found themselves having to adjust to a more independent form of living.

“Living away from home is one big step towards adulthood and independent living [by] having your own separate space where you have to manage your time and get places by yourself and figure out where everything is,” Minyoung Huh ’25 said.

Though the first year class was met with rainy move-in weather and flooding dorms, their adjustment to campus life also included exciting orientation events.

“I would say the grade this year is very enthusiastic, very lively, and excited to be here,” Orientation Leader Daёlle Coriolan ’24 said.

The orientation events this year persisted despite the rain and the campus was as lively as ever with events packed back-to-back, providing a space for new students to get to know each other.

“I think orientation was a good way to settle in without having the pressure of classes,” Jane Lillard ’25 said. “I think having the day be pretty busy was nice because you didn’t have time to freak out by being constantly surrounded by people, which can be a bit overwhelming. I think it gives you time to just meet a bunch of new people and kind of find your place.”

Though orientation was a largely positive experience for most first years, some articulated mixed feelings about certain events.

“The least helpful thing was when we were hearing some probably very important skits through a microphone in the back of the theater being pumped into the Chapel which also had bad speakers. That wasn’t all that helpful,” Cyrus Yuen ’25 said.

After New Student Orientation, the rest of the Wesleyan community moved in, setting the tone for an exciting semester. Some students observed that campus felt more alive than last year, when only around 84% of students were physically on campus.

“Dorms and community spaces feel more like community spaces rather than just isolated spaces,” Zoe Bogan ’24 said. “This year it feels like I’m able to meet more people and form closer connections with people that I live with.”

Some returning students moved into program houses and apartments, while others headed to the Inn at Middletown on Main Street.

“Living in the Inn is definitely not a conventional dorm experience,” Nora Knoepflmacher ’24 said. “There’s no getting around the fact that we literally live in a hotel.”

With COVID-19 risk levels remaining low, students can be found spending time outdoors instead of in the isolated walls of their dorm rooms. The opportunity to socialize during the first weeks of the semester represents a major shift from the two-week quarantine required last year.

“It’s been so nice to enjoy the scenery and get comfortable before classes start,” Jess Canning ’24 said. “It feels a lot calmer than quarantining for the first two weeks before class starts like last year.”

Additionally, the Student Involvement Fair was held in person on Friday, Sept. 10, a change from last year’s virtual club fair. Club leaders answered burning questions first years had and welcomed new members warmly with open arms.

“I’m definitely excited to participate in more student life here,” Huh said. “During the club fair I saw Prometheus practicing and that was pretty cool. I always wanted to try doing things I’ve never really thought I could see myself doing before, and that’s definitely one of them.”

Though it was geared toward first years who are not yet involved in on-campus activities, returning students also appreciated the club fair.

“I almost felt like a [first year] again,” Canning said. “I was seeing all these different groups that I didn’t even know we had on campus. I wish I had gotten that my [first year], but I’m still happy to get it in my sophomore year.”

Although students are excited about returning to classes and extracurriculars in person, they also recognize the challenges that come with adjusting to their commitments for the year.

“You have to be more on top of your schedule and your time management than you had [to] before because you have to factor in things like travel time [to get to class],” Bogan said.

Looking for a fresh new start, first years anticipate using the University’s resources to explore their horizons and explore their passions.

“I signed up for private drum lessons and ice-skating,” Lillard sad. “I think the fact that you can take music lessons for credit is super cool. I’m also really excited about the radio station. I think that will be a really cool way to find other people who like the same music.”

Others are looking forward to taking advantage of the University’s career services.

“There are a lot of resources and there’s a lot of professors you can get acquainted with and we have the Gordon Career Center,” Yuen said. “I have not gone into it, but it seems like they really help you out with interviews. I’ve [even] heard that they iron shirts for you so you look professional.”

Though many first years are excited for campus life, being away from home can be hard. College is a place of exploration but can sometimes be a difficult adjustment.

“I absolutely feel homesick,” Lillard said. “I’m very close with my family. I call my parents at least once a day, I think, and I miss my puppy a lot…. Weve been doing the thing where we send a ‘picture of the day’ to each other, and it’s been really nice to stay connected.”

In order to combat the homesickness, students are looking forward to experiencing the campus culture that once kept the University so alive.

“I feel like this year I’m definitely able to get a better sense of the community feel that makes Wes so special,” Bogan said.

Jo Harkless can be reached at jharkless@wesleyan.edu.

Cecilia Dondorful-Amos can be reached at cdondorfulam@wesleyan.edu.

Comments are closed