While underclassmen were only invited to come to campus in the fall, many first-years and sophomores applied to live on campus for the spring semester as well. The reasons behind this decision vary. While some underclassmen were not able to be on campus in fall due to concerns with pandemic and visa issues, others struggled with the time zone differences at home or were more interested in the on-campus classes.
The most important reason for most, however, was the connection to the community. No matter how successful Wellesley has been at bringing the students together virtually through events, webinars and talks, many felt that the Zoom experience could never replace in-person communication.
“I really miss having contact with people in-person because it feels very lonely when you are studying at night, when everyone around you is already asleep,” said Ruoxi Zho ‘23, a student from Nanjing, China. “I’m really looking forward to meeting people in-person.”
Ekaterina Tsavalyuk ’24, who studied on-campus in the fall, agreed that the community was the most prominent factor for why she chose to come to campus.
“It was really nice to be on campus and to have this community, even though we had many restrictions. I still feel like I’ve found some friends and made some connections,” Tsavalyuk said. “I’m looking forward to seeing people I have already met in the fall, and building closer relationships and spending more time together.”
Zhu and other international students who were not able to arrive for fall and struggled with time differences at home. For some students, classes being held at 2 pm EST were forcing them to wake up at 5 am. Zhu recalls going to sleep at 4 am in Term 1 and 6 am in Term 2.
“[It] is not bearable for me because then I get up at 5 pm and can barely see the sun and that feels very horrible,” Zhu said. “I don’t think I’m willing to experience the same thing for another semester.”
Tsavalyuk echoed Zhu’s words, saying that studying remotely from her hometown in Russia, with a 14-hour time difference, would have certainly hindered her ability to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Another important reason why many chose to come to campus was the academic life. In fact, Connie Gu’ 24, a student from China who had to start her first year remotely, shared that academics was the most important reason behind her decision to study on campus.
“I’m looking forward to in-person classes,” said Gu . “In [the first semester] … I was missing a lot of connections with my professors and classmates on the other side of the world.”
On-campus students also have a wider variety of classes to choose from since they can take both remote and in-person classes. While the on-campus class offerings have changed depending on the dominant class year among the on-campus students, remote students, especially those living in different time zones, do not have as many choices when it comes to course selection. For example, Zhu mentioned that some of the classes she wants to take are offered only on campus.
However, when asked about the challenges that they anticipate in the campus life in spring , many students voiced concerns about imagining life on campus during the pandemic.
“I know the US is still not super safe right now in terms of COVID control,” said Gu. “But based on what I have experienced over the past week, Wellesley is doing a good job in terms of keeping the bubble safe, so I’m no longer worried about that.”
Another concern was about the lack of variety among food options on campus and the absence of affordable food in the radius of Wellesley.
“One thing I don’t like is the fact that we are so far away from any affordable grocery shop,” said Tsavalyuk. “I can’t really shop as easily as I wish I could. I can order stuff on Amazon but I can’t walk anywhere and buy something that would not hurt my budget. The shops we have around here are way too expensive. This is a concern for many people and is definitely a concern for me.”
Despite these worries, underclassmen feel excited about studying on campus in the spring semester and look forward to securing connections with peers and faculty, taking in-person classes and participating in the on campus activities.
“I look forward to meeting so many new people, to all the social activities — the real authentic on-campus activities, and also to my connection with my blockmates,” said Gu.