Photo by Julie Fero | Elise Fero (she/they) moves into triple dorm room alone at the start of freshman year August, 2020.

Upperclassmen, your jealousy is warranted

For once, upperclassmen wish they were freshmen when the jealousy hits over pandemic experience

by Elise Fero

Our lives were in empty dark rooms in the dorms, where sitting in the halls and talking was prohibited. Masks were to be on everywhere. Even the volleyball court outside the building couldn’t be used. We couldn’t be social. The only life we saw on campus was deer.

This was my experience of freshman year during 2020-2021. Living in a tiny dorm with two bunk beds but no one to fill them; just my emotional support cat Winnie Fig and I, away from home for the first time in a new state. Online classes left the campus completely dead. No one played guitars in the music quad, no one rushed to class on their skateboard, and no one ate in the Depot. 

Now it’s the Fall of 2022 and here come the incoming freshmen, ready to go to classes in person, to meet new people who aren’t hidden behind masks. What a different experience than my own freshman year. I can’t help but feel as if I have been cheated out of an exponential time in my life. Someone tell me why this is fair!

Maybe I’m being ridiculous. People died in this pandemic and it affected other lives way more than mine, but I know plenty of others who feel just like I do. Our incredibly expensive education that we spent in our dorm rooms didn’t give us the classic “college experience” that others received before us (and after us.)

I always imagined college to be the best years of my life, but the pandemic forced us all into silence, into being more antisocial than many of us were to begin with. 

It’s not as if I didn’t get to have some classic experiences. Even after having COVID-19 during my first week of freshman year, I still found myself on the Lumberjack newspaper staff. During that semester we created a family inside the department, even though we only knew each other through a screen. 

I have since changed my major multiple times, but the journalism program was my savior when the world shut down. For that I am eternally grateful.

Now an environmental studies major, I still work for the Lumberjack. I am also starting to  meet people in my new major in-person– just like the freshmen are. 

My jealousy is a bit extreme, I must admit. These new students are getting the experience I dreamed of. They can go to events without fear. They can dance through the halls of their dorms laughing and talking with other people. They can meet people! My gosh, they can meet people. What an advantage they have, which I didn’t get until this year. 

It was hard to make friends and I often felt very alone. I remember the only times we saw our friends in those early days were when we snuck into the forest to say hello with our masks on. How scandalous! 

I’m so happy for the freshmen, I truly am. They get the experience they deserve. And while they lost some of high school, I still think they’re getting the better end of this deal. I wish I missed parts of high school instead! I mean, I hated high school. 

I know so many people who met the love of their life in college, a hope I always had as a kid. How could I do that while fully online? I just have to believe everything happens for a reason. The freshmen? They have endless opportunities for friends and love and joy in college social life. I wish I had that, too. 

Let me express my gratitude as well. My freshman and sophomore years were still beautiful experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. But for those upperclassmen feeling jealous as you watch freshmen embark on their college journey, you aren’t alone. I promise, you aren’t alone.

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