“For me, I think in person is better than online. When I was in my room, I always feel sleepy, but in the classroom, the professor is there and you can have eye-contact with them. I think it’s better for me,” Chen, a first-year PhD student from China majoring in biostatistics at the School of Public Health, said.
Bao, who is Chen’s housemate, said she feels more engaged when attending in-person classes. She said being in person helps with her assisting other students as a Teacher’s Assistant. “I do TA’ing visitations for the undergraduate students, and my students told me that they feel better if they can comment and ask questions in person. It’s more connection that way,” she said.
Melisa Toilolo, a first-year undergraduate student from California, who is majoring in Kinesiology and is a member of Tulane’s Track and Field team, said being at Tulane is a “big change from high school.”
“(My last year) was very terrible. Because my class, we had waited four years to graduate and walk (across the stage), and we couldn’t do it,” she said. “It kind of messed up everything, but at least we got our diplomas, and now I’m here (at Tulane).” Toilolo said of her time at Tulane so far, “I actually really like all my classes. Everything’s going smoothly.”
Sydnee Sherrick, a sophomore from Royersford, Pennsylvania, is a public health and international relations major with minors in Spanish and public policy. Sherrick believes it is vital to be back on campus and that being sent home last spring “kind of stung,” but she was glad to return last fall.
“Arriving last fall was strange in the beginning, but it soon began to feel normal,” she said. “Not being able to attend meetings for my extracurriculars in person or socialize with friends like I used to was difficult, but I could still do some of the normal activities. I began to spend more time outside, such as hammocking and going for walks that I did not do as much in previous semesters.”
Now back on campus for the spring semester, Sherrick is happy to be back with her friends and looks forward to continuing the goals she set last semester.
Vaishnavi “Vishy” Kandala, a first-year political economy marketing major from Trumbull, Connecticut, said her parents were worried about her first semester on campus, but those worries have lessened/tapered.
“My first semester, they were kind of just a little hesitant with the whole COVID thing. But they feel (I’m) really safe because Tulane’s doing a really good job, and they’re really glad that I’m getting the college experience,” she said.
Kandala said she does wish things would go back to normal, “but I’m really glad that I’m able to have an in-person experience even though there are a lot of COVID scares. I just feel like it’s a part of life now, and you just got to learn to roll with the punches and adapt.”
A freshman from Moraga, California, Grayson Meckfessel has not yet declared a major. Meckfessel said he enjoyed being on campus last fall, even though “COVID made many things different. But I think Tulane did an excellent job at giving students a 'college experience' amidst the chaos happening in the world.”
Meckfessel said he had not developed any new hobbies other than walking his dog, an Australian Shepherd named Scout when he is back home. However, he has taken the time to expand his cooking expertise, stating “I've cooked 300 times more than I would have been in normal times, but I enjoy it.”
He has also acquired a new late-night snack. “My favorite midnight snack, it's really weird, but Atomic Fireballs, the little candies. Those are really good. I eat way too many of those.”
Ava Davis is a sophomore from Jackson, Mississippi, who has taken the opportunity to develop both new hobbies and new cooking habits since the pandemic began.
“I listen to a lot more podcasts now, especially documentaries because if I'm sitting in my bed listening to something, I want it to be worthwhile. I've been trying to expand my media intake,” Davis said. “I'm also cooking a lot more. I'm trying to make new things, and I'm trying different ethnic foods from different cultures instead of just eating the same thing.”