January 21, 2020, was the date of the first confirmed U.S. Coronavirus case. Four months later, we were in a state of emergency and the country was officially on lockdown. For the next two years, COVID has had all of our attention and impacted all our lives. From daily life to jobs to school, COVID has resulted in sudden, drastic changes to which we all have had to quickly become accustomed.
As first-year 2021-22 college students, we know what it is like to get the last two years of high school ripped away from us. Being unable to recognize our best friends because of the fabric that pulls on our ears and pinches across our noses. The constant smell of antibacterial wipes. Our hands red and dry from washing them every second. These two years have gone by so much faster than we could have imagined. Two initial weeks — celebrating the excitement of the unexpected vacation we were handed — turned into two months. Two years later, we are here: tired, confused, and ready to go back to that last normal day.
At University of Bridgeport (UB), we are united. We have grown to understand each other during these long few years. Together, freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students all have experienced a different impact from COVID-19. I wanted to interview a few individuals who attend UB about their COVID experiences, hoping that these stories may help others know they are not alone, and may act as a guide to motivate them throughout these times.
Knowing what it has been like as a first-year student here, I wanted to listen to other students’ ideas to help promote awareness about what we have all gone through during this pandemic. For two weeks, I had the opportunity to interview four UB students and hear their own experiences these past few years. Three are first-year students and one is a graduate student. As I conducted these interviews, I learned some interesting and insightful information that has helped me view COVID-19 differently, as I hope will help others in the same situation.
Almost all the students interviewed had the same opinions about COVID and how it is being handled throughout the University. As these students are just starting their first years, their last few years of high school were completely different than any previous group. These students were all faced with the tragic news that the best years of high school were no longer happening. They were all completely online during these years, which required all their tests and quizzes to be open book. No student at this time had to memorize anything for their classes because they always had the resources in front of them, with no consequences from the teachers.
Moving through these years, there have been great transitions, some positive and some negative. The vaccine became officially accessible to the public, allowing more freedom to be back in our lives and to return to a sense of normal. Here at UB, however, masks and social distancing are still required as of this writing, and weekly tests are required if you are unvaccinated. While students believe that this may not impact their learning, but it can be time consuming. One student stated that she has trouble breathing while having to constantly wear masks. Of course, this is our new normal as of now, but students are eager to have an end to COVID and to start embracing school again.
Interestingly, these students all stated that they love UB, but all of them believe that COVID has had a slight impact on their school choice, because one cause always has an effect. Everything happens for a reason, and all of these students are cherishing school more than they did before these heart-wrenching two years. We are now all so much stronger as a community together and as individuals. As time progresses, we will continue to learn and grow and think back to the memories of these past two years.
All students of all ages have had difficult times with COVID, but if it weren’t for these viruses, we all would not be where we are today, here at UB. If you are someone who has had a difficult time with this pandemic, know that there are other people in your shoes as well, and you too can push through it.
Kaitlyn Gorton, class of 2025, is a Nursing major at UB. She is from Trumbull, Connecticut, and hopes to become an emergency room nurse. She wrote this article as part of the coursework for English 101: Composition & Rhetoric.