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Pandemic transition: One Viterbo senior recalls difficult first year  

Campus on November 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic halted and eventually led to a change of everyday operations in most people’s lives. Students went from seeing their friends at school to seeing their faces in Zoom classes. For some students, it was not just their closing years of high school that followed this shift of normalcy, but also their beginning years of college. Viterbo senior Brody Larson is one of many students who started their college experience during the pandemic.  


At the time much was still unknown about COVID-19. Rules were implemented with the goal of keeping students safe: masks were required, spaces like the café, where students would socialize, were turned into grab and go, and places where students could gather were limited. First-year students at Viterbo in the fall semester of 2020 were entering uncharted territory that many newspapers, advertisements, blogs, etc., described as, “a time of great uncertainty.” Beginning college contains a set of challenges unique to each person; for many, beginning college during the same pandemic which forced schools to close a few months prior created an additional set of challenges.  


As a first-year student, Larson lived on campus in the Bonaventure Hall. He recalls the first few weeks of college: “It was really the complete opposite of what everyone else told me about when they started college. Whenever someone else would tell me of their first few weeks, it was always about meeting a bunch of new people, and about how they went and did all these different things. I met a few people that lived on my floor, whether that was through baseball or just meeting them, but we really weren’t able to hangout in any sort of normal way. Basically, we were all trying to make friends at a time when we were told to stay away from each other.”  


Eventually, the fall semester would move to strictly online classes. Over the course of the spring semester some rules that limited socializing were lessoned slightly, returning some agency to the students over how they wished to interact with others. But it was not until the spring semester in 2022 that things returned to somewhat resemble pre-pandemic life. During that semester the mask requirement was changed into only recommending masks. Some students were concerned if the timing was appropriate, despite the Center for Disease Control reporting around a 7% positivity rate for La Crosse County in the month of March, when the requirement changed.  


The policy shift had another factor to it. It would be the first time that the 2020 first- years would see their classmate’s faces after almost a year and a half of attending college. “I think we just sort of delt with the fact that of going to class, and not knowing what each other looked like until it became normal. It’s still a weird thing to think about that almost our entire first two years of college we made friends with some people without ever seeing so much as a smile,” said Larson.  

 Despite all the challenges Larson says, “Having my college experience start the way it did wasn’t what I expected, but I still met some of my closest friends, and made plenty of memories. It was hard adjusting at first, but we tried to make the best of it.” Normal life likely felt like a distant reality for some during the pandemic. The sudden shifts and isolation were hard for many, especially new college students. The means were different, but friends and memories were made, even if it wasn’t entirely face to face.  

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About the Contributor
Carter Steger
Carter Steger, Editor
As an English-Education major, writing has always been enjoyable for me.
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