Sitting in front of my computer screen at 9 AM after just having rolled out of bed with a cup of coffee to wake myself up: that’s how I experienced most of my tutorials and lectures in my first year of university. Even though I was already living in Rotterdam, I did not feel like I was experiencing the typical “student life”. My family always speaks with such passion whenever they tell me about their time as a student: “You’ll never have as much free time as you have now.” or, “You should make lots of friends these three years! You will never make as good friends as you do in your youth.”. I wanted nothing more than to go to parties and make lifelong friends along the way. But as a “Corona student”, as some people called us second year students who started university in the midst of a pandemic, I never really experienced any of the stereotypical things a student must experience.
However, I never really felt like I missed much. I know some people might disagree with me, but being a “Corona student” opened doors I did not know existed. Being able to take class wherever you have a wifi connection so you do not have to travel to campus at 8 AM? Sounds good to me! Or, easily shutting uni life out just by simply closing the computer? No regrets here!
Of course, I missed a lot of things that I wished I had experienced in my first year, such as going to parties, eating in restaurants with friends or going to university without a reservation. However, I do not feel sad about it. Rather, I feel like my first year in front of the computer instead of in “real life” gave me the chance to find more confidence in myself and find out who I am in more detail. It provided me with an extra small stepping stone to get into the stereotypical student life, which I did not know I desperately needed. It gave me many insights into who I am that I would have never known had I not spent as much time by myself as I have had in my first year (which sounds sad but trust me, the outcome has been amazing). I still made many very good friends, I found new hobbies, and tried out many new things. All this because from behind my computer screen the world did not seem as scary, and I felt like I could do anything.
Meeting fellow students in real life now can be intimidating. I hear what people do in their free time and feel like I do not do enough. But I always remember how I felt the same a year back, staring at my computer screen waiting for my first Zoom class to start. And I can say, with full confidence, that I did not have anything to be afraid of. For the students who are fresh out of Zoom university and are trying to find some footing in the fast-paced “real life” situation, just remember where you were a year ago and how much you have grown. And also, everyone is in the same boat (this thought really helped me through it), so, you are never alone!
Author: Phoebe Elliott
Editor: Anisha de Vries
Visuals by: Ira Lizenko