COVID Freshman Year
One of MANY zoom calls this semester!
It is hard to believe that my first year at Vanderbilt has come and gone. This time last year, I remember praying that we would go to school in person and not have to spend my freshman year at home taking online classes. When we got the email that we would be welcomed on campus, I was beyond excited, but also really nervous. I had no clue what college was going to be like, especially if I was going to live in a dorm room by myself, take classes over Zoom, wear a mask at all times, and live within the gathering restrictions. I was uncertain about how I was going to make friends and connect with my professors. I was scared that I would be behind in NROTC, not knowing the things that incoming midshipmen usually learn at indoctrination training, which we did not have because of COVID.
Looking back now, I see how each one of those uncertainties faded away once I got to campus. It was not the smoothest transition into life away from home, but is it ever? Despite the virtual setting of club gatherings and info sessions, I got plugged into campus ministries and organizations during my first week of classes. Upperclassmen were so intentional in reaching out to freshmen, which was such a comfort in this unfamiliar environment! I began making friends and sharing meals outside, either in the dining tents or out on one of the lawns. I played Ultimate frisbee and Catchphrase and cards with new pals. I explored campus on my own time, finding good places to study and do homework so that I didn’t have to stay in my dorm room all day doing my asynchronous classwork. The BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) director helped me find a good church to get plugged into in Nashville, and that provided me with relationships with people from all generations––not just college students. I was invited for game nights and much-needed home-cooked meals at church members’ houses.
Second semester, COVID cases declined, and more classes were held in person. Campus dining was somewhat restored to its former glory (or so I’ve heard). Vanderbilt returned to normalcy little-by-little and is still transitioning back to what it was before the pandemic. I am so excited for all the things that upperclassmen have been telling me about: fresh Rand cookies, tailgating and football games, Rand booths, munchie marts, and more. I am excited for NROTC to return to more in-person physical training and drill practice. I am excited to meet more people and get to see people’s entire faces––not just the eyes and up. ;) I am excited to attend in-person club meetings and gatherings and take a break from Zoom. I am also excited to have my vehicle on campus next year so that I can continue to explore this amazing city we get to call home.
There are so many more things that I am excited about, which just adds to my gratefulness that I get to attend an institution with such a diverse, brilliant, capable, and passionate group of people that offers so many amazing opportunities for academic excellence, personal growth, and community building. My first year of college was one of the hardest and most fulfilling years of my life, yet I have a feeling that I have only scratched the surface of my Vandy experience. And I cannot wait to see what lies ahead!