As a high school senior, I chose to attend the University of Maryland with the hope and excitement of having a fresh start. While I love my hometown, I wanted to travel to a different city to explore more of the U.S. and increase my independence. I’m fortunate that my parents allowed me to decide which college to attend regardless of any financial costs, but I quickly realized how much a financial burden it is attending an out-of-state school. The reassurance from my family, that I would be able to pay off the debt with a job after studying something I love, motivated me to continue studying my double major. Throughout my first two years at UMD, however, I slowly realized studying Criminal Justice and Government and Politics weren’t what I truly wanted.
I am forever grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I had at UMD. I have met some of my closest friends there and grown so much as a person. I even got the incredible chance to study abroad at Yonsei University in South Korea in 2019. I decided, before leaving, that I wanted to spend my summer vacation traveling to other countries and exploring their cultures. But I eventually came to the decision to take a gap semester in the fall and remain in Korea. I didn’t want to return to UMD knowing I wanted to pursue a different major but not knowing which one. I believe it would have just been a waste of money. With my gap semester, I was able to take time to evaluate what I wanted to study and to do after graduation without any pressures.
I thought about what skills I already had, enjoyed, and wanted to pursue. I decided to transfer to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to major in Operations and Information Management and receive the Business Data Analytics Certificate. While it was an exciting time knowing what I wanted to study, I also felt very unprepared both academically and socially. I became a junior in the spring 2020 semester yet I didn’t have any requirements fulfilled for my new major. I also had little to zero experience in the business field, whether that was looking for possible internships or even networking. On the social side, I didn’t know many people at my new school and I was still saddened by the fact I never got to say a final goodbye to everyone at UMD. In addition, it was difficult entering the spring semester because all the other students were just coming back from a short break while I was starting new.
Fortunately, all my worries soon disappeared after a few weeks at UMass. I began to feel more a part of the UMass community as I joined various clubs on campus and met more people. I familiarized myself with the campus, finding the best study spots and places to eat with my friends. I attended basketball and hockey games, showing off my school spirit — something I never did during my first two years at UMD.
When it was announced that in-person classes would not resume after spring break, I was disappointed but still understanding of the severity of the COVID-19 situation. I had only spent eight weeks at my new school; it was not enough time to meet more people, attend more school events, and figure out which other clubs I wanted to join.
While UMass said that we would return to campus in April, I, along with many others, predicted the rest of the semester would be online given all the other colleges nearby changed to remote learning. I packed all of my things from my dorm, removing all the decorations I had put up only a few weeks ago. And my friends and I sadly parted, not knowing when we would see each other on campus again.
I wasn’t looking forward to finishing the school year at home for two main reasons. Firstly, I came back from Korea in October and had already spent three months not doing much at home besides occasionally working. Secondly, I never took online classes or had any interest in taking them, so I was nervous about how I would stay motivated to continue doing well in them.
I am grateful that the change to remote learning wasn’t too difficult. Most of my lectures were already being recorded and many assignments had to be completed and submitted online. My classes were almost easier as some professors replaced exams with smaller projects and gave us more time to take exams/quizzes. The semester, per usual, went by very quickly, which is another thing I am grateful for.
I was already feeling uneasy about my summer 2020 but the news of quarantine furthered that worry. Since I was a new business major, I had no plans for internships or jobs related to what I eventually want to do. I worked at Starbucks for a month during my gap semester but had no intention of returning for personal reasons. I felt very behind in experiences since I was already a junior. I am fortunate that despite the circumstances, I am able to contribute to Relay — an internship that I love doing and that I believe can help many people. While I am still saddened that my experience at UMass was cut short, especially since I just transferred, I am also looking towards the future.
UMass officially announced their plans for the fall semester. All of my registered classes are online, so I decided to stay home rather than living on campus to save housing and meal costs. I am hoping that I will be able to return to campus to fully experience the UMass campus life before I graduate in three semesters.
Other Student Narratives from the Team at Relay:
- A Wild Freshman Year in College
- Reflecting on the Spring 2020 Semester – My Reaction to the Campus Closure
- How COVID-19 Affected My Junior Year in College
- Thoughts on Heading into Junior Year of High School
- Treasuring the Moments, Losing Senior Year & Looking Forward