In an email sent on Jan. 25, President Julio Frenk announced that 85 percent of UM students returned to campus this spring. These students include both freshmen who spent their first semester of college at home and sophomores and upperclassmen who have not been on campus since before the pandemic.
Health science major Jake Sage, a second semester freshman who is taking in-person classes for the first time, recalls how different online classes were.
“Online is kind of a struggle because there are so many distractions,” Sage said.
“Since I’ve started taking in-person classes, I’ve found it’s a lot easier to focus and take notes,” he continued.
Sage, a New Jersey native, stayed home for his first semester as his parents didn’t feel comfortable sending him to Miami.
“We knew the whole pandemic was still going on and how it was pretty bad in Florida,” he said.
At the start of the 2020 fall semester, Miami was one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the New York Times, on Aug. 17, the day fall semester classes started, Miami-Dade County had a 14-day average of 1,599 new cases per day. As of Feb. 1, that average is now 1,952 new cases per day.
Coryn Ferguson, a freshman majoring in marine science and microbiology and immunology, also completed her first semester remotely, but is now taking classes in-person.
“I was concerned, not exactly with getting COVID, but more about if there were too many cases that I’d get sent home,” she said. “I also was scared about being put into isolation and having to be up there for two weeks by myself right after I got to a super awesome campus.”
Ferguson said that while her first semester was hard socially, with many of her friends being away at school, she was able to make the most of it academically.
“I felt like it was actually easier to stay on track because I didn’t have the distraction of my friends… so that made it a very productive semester,” Ferguson said. “I was sick of being at home, and I figured if I go into isolation, I do and that’s okay,” Ferguson said.
With the spring semester now underway, Ferguson and Sage shared their excitement about being on campus for the first time and being involved with activities on campus.
“It feels good, but it’s a little odd,” said Ferguson about finally being on campus. “I am really looking forward to being more involved with my clubs.”
This semester will be the first time sophomore Alexandra Berman is back in Miami since March. She said she was ecstatic to return to campus.
“It was time for me to go back,” said Berman, an advertising major from Westport, Connecticut.
“Being back on campus is so rewarding. I appreciate so much more,” she continued.
Berman says she believes that it was good for her to come back for her mental health.
“It was great to be with my family, but I felt isolated from my friends last semester and wanted some sense of normalcy,” she said.
This sense of normalcy was a strong reason why sophomore Natalie Sinai wanted to come back.
“I’m finally able to go out to a restaurant. It is definitely a sense of normalcy even with the mask wearing” said Sinai, an exercise physiology major from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Sinai said she is still worried about the pandemic but feels like she still made the right decision to return this semester.
“I feel very lucky to be here right now” Sinai said, “I have to accept that this is the way that the world is going to be for a while and I can’t put my life on hold forever.”