January 15, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 40°F

ColumnsAsk a Freshman

How are you doing now that your first semester is almost over?

The hardest part of adjusting to online learning was acceptance. I’ve had to accept that this semester, as well as the spring semester, will look nothing like I once imagined it. I have spent years thinking about the moment I would get to Ithaca College’s campus and make friends, meet professors in a classroom setting and explore town. It’s been nearly impossible to let go of the fact that this is not happening — impossible to let go of until now.

It feels like 50 people have repeated the phrase “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side” over the past month. I’ve spent the past few months thinking about how college during these challenging times would be so much better if we were on campus, but, more recently, I’ve considered the fact that even if we were on campus, it wouldn’t be the same.

As a freshman, I don’t have much to compare my online learning experience to, except for the Young Writers Institute, a summer writing program at Ithaca College, which I attended last summer. It was an amazing program and I got to live the college experience for two weeks. While this isn’t the same as a full semester, just those two weeks were enough to make accepting an online semester a challenge. It is true, however, that I am not an upperclassman who has lived the college experience and is now taking online school. They know what they’re missing while I’m just starting out.

Knowing that we will potentially be on campus next spring is the glimmer of hope hanging out in the back of my mind. I try not to think about being on campus too often in order to keep my expectations realistic and not get my hopes up. I am feeling less excitement and more nervousness. It’s going to be like starting college all over again.

Just last night, I reached the conclusion that acceptance is the only remedy for when things don’t go our way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time toiling over what should’ve been and wishing for different circumstances. I’ve even carried the notion that I might be wasting my life by not moving forward because I am not making new friends nor moving away from home. I realized that all the wishing and overthinking isn’t fixing anything. The truth is this pandemic and everything that comes with it is our current situation. It’s better to accept the situation and the fact that we don’t have control. So far, I’ve stayed engaged by joining clubs like the Ithaca College Mindfulness Club and IC Mixed. I have also been talking to classmates outside class more, an approach that helps to build a sense of community. 

In the meantime, while I accept the situation for what it is, that doesn’t mean I give up. It just means that I live in the present, do my part to fight the spread of COVID-19 and live the life that I’m currently living. While it’s not ideal, it’s reality and I’m teaching myself to accept this.