By Mac Pomeroy
On March 7, 2020, the students of Youngstown State University left for spring break. Originally thought to be a few days off to refresh from the hustle of daily life, things quickly changed.
Within days, news regarding the rapidly spreading COVID-19 got worse. It was soon announced the university would extend spring break. This turned into the entire semester going fully online, and extended throughout the next school year.
After all this time, finally students are back on campus. For many, including myself, this is our first time back in person since the pandemic began. I would be lying if I said that this alone didn’t have me extremely nervous.
The idea of going around campus, following an in-person schedule, being surrounded by people — all of that feels overwhelming to consider. I may have been in college for years, but I feel like a freshman again.
Talking to friends and other students, I found this feeling of concern and fear to be common. With online classes, it was easy to become used to not being near others and doing your own thing.
I have mentioned in prior articles that my last two years of high school were done online, so this wasn’t my first time coming back to in-person school, but it still felt far more intimidating than prior.
When asked about what worried them the most, a common answer among friends was public manners. Not in a way that they felt they would seem rude, but more that they weren’t sure how to do things in public anymore.
They had become so used to being alone that even simple things like studying in a room full of people seem like a challenge. They are now extra aware of those around them, far more than before the pandemic. Full classes and crowded halls seem much more daunting than before.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about being thrown back into an in-person schedule, take a deep breath. It’s okay. While there is no immediate remedy, it’s important to remember these feelings are valid.
Even if you felt comfortable in person before going online and now are unsure of how to handle these situations, that’s okay. Time is the true medicine.
Even if the first week back seems weird and uncomfortable, just keep trying. Slowly it will feel normal again. You’ll be okay.
Welcome back, Penguins. Good luck, you got this.