The First-Years’ Take: COVID Edition

Imagine starting off your college career standing in a grab n’ go lunch line, knowing that your Zoom class starts in ten minutes and you are in need of a quiet study place to take notes on your lecture. While upperclassmen are able to understand the differences in college life, the first-years are getting a new perspective of Bates through a socially distant lens. 

Tia Freund, a first-year student from New Hampshire, discussed her initial feelings about her college move-in day. 

“Arriving on campus this fall was very different compared to typical college move-ins. When I decided to attend Bates as a high school senior I didn’t picture myself moving into college the way I did.” 

Although this was not how she wanted to begin her semester, she noted that she was appreciative of all of the hard work the college had put into getting students back on campus.

“My first reaction when I moved into Bates was how lucky I was to be at a school that cared so much for their students,” she said. “Bates truly understood the importance of making college as close to normal as possible in our world filled with dramatic change.” 

That being said, the first-years have had to be creative with the ways they socialize due to the restrictive precautions. Freund mentions how the first-years have to be more “outgoing at mealtimes,” whilst also connecting and talking with people from other dorms when they can.

This same sentiment is felt by another first-year, Marcos Pacheco Soto from Santiago de Chile. Far from home, Pacheco Soto finds it difficult to not be able to have a friend over to his room and socialize close together, only being able to see his friend’s face at mealtime.

It has definitely been challenging to socialize from six feet away and see my friend’s face only while eating,” he said.

Despite this, he still presents a positive outlook, stating that, “having access to so many resources and opportunities has made me reflect on my position and desire of being an active member of this community.” Self-reflection is a growing theme on campus, and it has revealed to some how lucky they are to be learning, living, and growing at college. 

A first-year on the women’s basketball team, Delaney Nwachukwu, from Avon, Conn., is appreciative of having her team as a resource on campus. She shared that“being a basketball player has made me mentally tough on and off the court, and I can deal with adversity better.” 

Nwachukwu commented, “In the beginning, I struggled managing my time with academics,” a common challenge that has been overshadowed this year. Simply going from high school to college academics is itself an adjustment. On top of that, students have to transition into the module system that drives courses at a faster pace than previous years.  

There are many challenges the first-years are enduring, yet one thing is clear: many are generally appreciative and thrilled to be at Bates. The same first-year jittery excitement is alive and well, and will certainly be there for years to come.