'I’m constantly reminded we truly are all in this together.'

Senior Samantha Boyle describes campus life during COVID-19
Samantha Boyle
Samantha Boyle (Photo submitted.)

Editor's note: Samantha Boyle is a student writer for the College of LAS Office of Communications and Marketing. She is taking a mix of online and in-person classes.

Like many other students at the University of Illinois, I was not expecting to start my senior year of undergrad partially or even possibly fully online. I was looking forward to going from building to building and interacting with my classmates in person like I have for the past three years.

As a journalism major with a criminology, law, and society minor in the Department of Sociology, human interaction is important, just like it is for almost every other major. However, this semester all my classes moved online except one, which meets in person every two weeks. Although I had the option to move fully online and stay home, I decided to move back to Urbana to take these classes here.

Samantha Boyle's at-home classroom
Samantha Boyle's at-home classroom (Photo submitted.)

Navigating this semester has been everything but easy. However, basically the entire University of Illinois community has been extremely understanding in making the start of this experience comforting and a little less stressful. I’m constantly reminded we truly are all in this together.

As we move further into the semester, it is actually weird for me every time I leave my house to go to Richmond Studios for class every other week. At this point, I leave my house more often to get my twice weekly COVID-19 test than I do for class.

I also have several friends working toward College of LAS degrees who have similar ideas as me. My roommate, a global studies and Spanish major, has 100 percent of her classes online. In the same way, it’s strange to see us only leave the house to get tested, or, for her, to also go to work.

All of my roommate’s classes have been moved online, and homework and workloads have pretty much stayed the same. In classes where discussion and in person interactions were very much valued, being a laptop screen away from the rest of the class has made it more difficult to participate, she told me. For both of us, it’s also gotten a lot easier to get distracted because of the at-home setting, instead of sitting in class.

Altogether, I’ve noticed that being physically on campus has taken just a bit of the strangeness away from the realities of the pandemic by bringing a bit of normalcy back. You hear a lot about setting and how your surroundings matter. I’d rather be surrounded by campus than be back at home where it feels like I’m on break. Especially during a time where it feels like almost nothing is going right, being on campus feels like the right setting for school.

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Samantha Boyle