As the first semester of remote courses comes to an end, freshmen remain optimistic about their college experience. Across the United States, college campuses experimented with ways to safely resume classes despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. While some colleges brought back students for a few weeks and sent them home for Thanksgiving break, and some toyed around with hybrid classes, others, such as LMU, went completely remote. No classes were conducted on campus for fall 2020 and campus access was restricted to some student students, staff and faculty workers, students living on campus and certain other members of the LMU community who were granted access.

The idea of the college experience excites most incoming freshmen. However, with remote classes, limited access to campus and local lockdown rules and restrictions, opportunities for freshmen to experience campus life and socialize among one another were hindered.

Jelani Janisse, a business administration major from Inglewood, said he was most excited about interacting with classmates and having a greater sense of independence.

“There are rare occurrences for social interactions in Zoom classes. Even though I love spending this time with my family, I still wish I could hang out with friends and remain as independent as I was before the pandemic,” said Janisse.

Laine Messier, a film and television production major as well as a photo intern at the Loyolan, was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Abu Dhabi during her junior year of high school. She said she took online courses throughout high school since she was homeschooled.

“This online format is pretty normal for me,” said Messier. “It’s a running joke in my family that I’m basically doing high school for another year.”

Messier spent part of the semester in L.A. and the other part back home in Abu Dhabi. Due to the 12-hour time difference, she set up her classes so that they were manageable in either time zone.

"All of my classes are at night on the West Coast and then in Gulf Standard Time they’re all at 5 a.m. sometimes,” said Messier.

Messier got a job doing broadcast in LMU Athletics. She thought it would be a great way of getting hands-on experience with camera work, which was one of the reasons she was initially drawn to LMU.

She worked at the LMU men's basketball game on Nov. 25, which was also her first time on campus this semester.

“I’m texting all of my SFTV friends like, ‘Guys, guys I’m on campus. Look I’m taking pictures,’ and we’re all just super excited that at least one of us got to see campus,” said Messier.

Janisse said that despite not being able to experience campus life, he still enjoyed his freshman year. “At the end of the day I have no control over the situation so I tend to look on the bright side,” said Janisse. “It would be different if my experience was unique to me but to go through it with everyone has been comforting.”

“It was definitely not how I thought I would end my senior year and start my freshman year at all. But I believe everything happens for a reason so it’ll make me more appreciative in the future,” said Janisse.

Janie Thomson, a first-year health and human sciences major from Denver, Colorado, agreed that while this semester has been far from the experience she anticipated prior to the pandemic, there are benefits.

“The ease and convenience is really nice,” Thomson said. “I can just walk downstairs and be in class or press a button and be in office hours.”

However, she does feel the loss of being around people in a campus setting, especially other students.

“That’s definitely something that has been challenging. I feel like my interaction with other students has been pretty limited,” Thomson said.

The majority of first-year students have not yet stepped foot on campus or met their peers in person, and it is unclear when they will be able to do so. With COVID-19 case numbers continuing to rise, students are getting ready for another semester of online learning in the spring. Thomson said she has enjoyed her classes this semester and feels well equipped to make the most of the continued virtual experience.

“I definitely feel more prepared going into next semester,” Thomson said. “I feel like I know what I’ll be faced with, so I’m hoping it will be a little easier.”

Kennedi Hewitt is a junior English and journalism double major from Inglewood, CA. She enjoys reading, listening to music and exploring local coffee shops.

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