Cover Students are back to school (Photo: Mikael Kristenson/Unsplash)

Six students tell their back-to-school stories as they try to manoeuvre the new learning setup born out of the pandemic

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Basti Belmonte

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BASTI BELMONTE Boston College, Major in Economics and Minor in Studio Art
Above BASTI BELMONTE Boston College, Major in Economics and Minor in Studio Art

Returning to Boston College during the pandemic was a unique experience. We had in-person classes, online classes and the mandatory Covid-19 testing every week. At first, I was skeptical about online courses; however, I quickly grew to love them. I could re-watch recorded lectures to help me study for exams, and I could schedule one-on-one meetings with my professors any time of the week without worrying about being on campus. My in-person classes were also exciting. One of them was hybrid, where half the class showed up on Monday, the other half, Zoom’d in, and vice versa for the Wednesday class. Another class was split up into two rooms, with the professor teaching both at the same time. This pandemic has taught me that despite all the restrictions, I will always be passionate and eager to learn.

Read also: Face-to-Face Classes in the Philippines Approved in 120 Schools—Are We Ready For It?

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Yana Po

After nearly two years of online classes, I’ve never been more ecstatic to set foot in a classroom. Although the International School Manila made a valiant effort to alleviate transition to virtual classes, the amount of learning I would do in an in-person class simply can’t be rivalled by Zoom. I was able to learn on online school; however, going to class in person was more interactive. I was much more attentive. I’m looking forward to taking my first computer science class this semester!

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YANA PO Brown University, Architecture and Anthropology
Above YANA PO Brown University, Architecture and Anthropology
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Marcos Ayala

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MARCO AYALA Brown University, Computer Science and Anthropology
Above MARCO AYALA Brown University, Computer Science and Anthropology

The anticipation for the coming semester is exhilarating especially now that classes and campus life will be more in-person than I have ever experienced before. Having gone through the past two semesters online, I will never take the realness of in-person learning for granted.

This fall, I also volunteered to be part of IMP (International Mentoring Programme), a year-long programme designed to guide incoming international students through their orientation and their first year at the university. Being a mentor and engaging with such a vibrant campus bustling with life makes me feel like I’m experiencing my ‘real’ first year.

Related: Back To School During The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Are Parents Coping With Virtual Learning?

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Katya Zobel de Ayala

I think most students will admit that online studying was tough physically, emotionally and mentally. I missed interacting with other students and friends, being in a classroom and having direct access to my teachers. However, learning online also taught me to be more independent, disciplined and more responsible for my own education since I couldn’t rely on my classmates and teachers as much. I am definitely a very social person and love being with other people so I am thrilled and very grateful to finally have the opportunity to study in person and to be in a more normal and traditional study environment again. This is possible because all students have received their vaccines and we go through regular testing. Masks are still required indoors.

I don’t take this privilege for granted; I understand that there are still so many students globally struggling to get proper access to a basic education in any form. We have finished orientation and in-person cIasses have already started. I’ve met some amazing students and I’m also fortunate to have a roommate that I get along so well with. I am excited to join various clubs and organisations and look forward to many engaging classroom discussions. I also hope I get to meet the famous mascot Jack the Bulldog soon!

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KATYA ZOBEL DE AYALA Georgetown University, Major in Psychology and Minor in Film and Media Studies
Above KATYA ZOBEL DE AYALA Georgetown University, Major in Psychology and Minor in Film and Media Studies
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Andres Cojuangco

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ANDRES B COJUANGCO Wesleyan University Middletown Connecticut, Computer Science
Above ANDRES B COJUANGCO Wesleyan University Middletown Connecticut, Computer Science

Being back at Wesleyan during the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenging yet an interesting experience. We had a hybrid curriculum. I never thought that I would be taking classes outside, surrounded by trees, animals and the occasional snowfall which created a unique experience.

Not being able to see the faces behind the masks of my classmates motivated all of us to be creative and take a new approach in making friends. Despite having some classes online, I got to know myself better by understanding what I liked and disliked about the new online framework. This semester, with more face-to-face class settings, I am looking forward to experiencing some normalcy on campus and on new innovations for learning that were born out of this pandemic.

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Joaquin de Venecia

I’m both thankful and relieved to be back on campus. I had minimal in-person classes and campus life on my first year of college, so the opportunity to be here feels even greater now. I feel fortunate to be in a university that has prepared for all students to safely come back and engage in as much face-to-face activities as possible.

I have never looked forward to in-person classes as much I do now, as well as to normal
campus life, seeing old friends and making new ones. I look forward to getting back into college sports, clubs and societies I joined last year. And being in St Andrews, of course, I look forward to playing a lot of golf.

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JOAQUIN DE VENECIA University of St Andrews, Economics and Sustainable Development BSc (Honours
Above JOAQUIN DE VENECIA University of St Andrews, Economics and Sustainable Development BSc (Honours