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College During COVID-19

As a sophomore transfer, my first year at Pepperdine was cut short when schools across the country closed their doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In just a few short weeks, like countless other students, I've had to adjust to online learning, find new ways to stay connected with my friends, and work through the challenges caused by the growing pandemic.

Zoom classroom screenshot of Chris Stivers and his student

Adjusting to Online Learning

Transitioning from attending class in person every day to online learning has been a really big adjustment. Before leaving campus, a typical school day at Pepperdine began at 9 AM with my Italian class, then going to the library to study and grab a cup of coffee, and then on to the Center of Communication and Business for my next two classes of the day. Before I knew it, my days changed to waking up in my family home, going to my childhood desk, and logging into Zoom for the day.

At first, I didn't know what to expect, and I had a lot of questions. Will my classes actually be online every day? Am I going to have to teach myself the material? What if my professor moves to his or her home in a different time zone? Thankfully, all of these questions were quickly answered, as my Pepperdine teachers were well prepared and excited to continue teaching the material, regardless of the method being used. Each one of my classes still meets at the same time and has not deviated from the expected curriculum. Pepperdine has been great at providing the same level of education through online courses. Many of my teachers understand the struggles that arise with online learning and have been very supportive.

Personally, I have set up my own routine to help me stay focused and mentally prepare for class in my home each day. I have made sure my home desk is organized and includes all of the necessary supplies to help me be the most productive I can possibly be. Instead of walking into my classes and sitting next to my friends, I wake up 20 minutes early to prepare before I log into my Zoom class and sit alone at my desk. We are all adjusting and learning every day and helping each other through this.

Staying Connected With Friends

One of the hardest parts of transitioning to an online semester was having to leave my friends. The day we learned that Pepperdine was moving to online classes, we had only four days to move out of our residences, causing my friends and I to say quick goodbyes. Moments after receiving the news, I opened my dorm room to find my friends crying with the thought of having to leave this beautiful campus and each other so soon.

As my friends and I packed up and went our separate ways, we promised each other that we would contact one another as often as possible. We have been in touch every day since. At first, we made plans to visit each other's hometowns throughout the next couple of months, but as we quickly realized that such travel was not possible, we came up with other ways to stay close. I am thankful that we live in an era of social media with which to stay connected. Even if I do not talk to my friends on the phone every day, I still feel connected by seeing what they are up to through Snapchat or Instagram. The best parts of my week are our group FaceTime calls. We make sure everyone can be present and connect with one another.

Although I am disheartened at not being able to see my Pepperdine pals each day, it has shown me how lucky I am to have such good, loyal friends in my life. Through this experience, I have grown an appreciation and love for everyone I have met at Pepperdine, and I can not wait to reunite with them soon.

Katherine Bacino and friends pictured at the Seaver Campus

Coping With Uncertainty

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone and we are all making adjustments. I am fortunate enough to be at home with my family and we all are helping each other find a new normal routine as the environment around us continues to change. Our house quickly went from three to five people as my brother, a senior at Villanova University, and my sister, currently living in Chicago, flew home.

My family and I reside in Southern California and we've been following the governor's stay at home policy diligently. As a result, we are not allowed to leave the house except for essential activities. Some of the challenges we face are limited groceries at the store, walks being shorter as beaches close, and finding creative ways to work out in the backyard. My family and I try to think of new ideas that will keep us busy and entertained. For example, we have been trying new recipes, and each person gets to choose a puzzle or game of the day.

I do wholeheartedly believe we will come out of this crisis stronger, and as a better community. Each of us has leaned on each other for support and guidance through this hard time, and it has strengthened my appreciation for all I've been blessed with in life.