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Navigating College Life During a Pandemic, Part I: An Introduction

This title will always be a mouthful, but I’m more than excited to begin this series. Junior year has been a fever dream to say the least. The pandemic made my second half of sophomore year completely virtual. Not only that, our “extended break” quickly escalated into a year long quarantine none of us were ready for. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much for all of us, including the Wash U community. Here’s a peek of how the pandemic has altered my Wash U experience.

The Beginning

It’s common knowledge that at the beginning of this pandemic, no one expected it to be as intense and long winded as it became. It was right after finals and a little into my spring break in 2020 last year that COVID regulations began. I’d decided to stay on campus for spring break to relax and have a break with friends. This unintentionally became one of the best decisions I made during that time. My dad called me when I decided to go to the mall with my friends during break. He urged me to go home, frustrated I hadn’t looked at the news and telling me we needed to stay inside no matter what.

At the time, I thought he was being a lot. I’d just wanted to finally have time with my friends to release some stress from the busiest semester of my college career thus far.  Needless to say, it was frustrating, but we ended up back in the dorms. Not too long after that, it became clear that this spring break wasn’t going to end like the other we’ve had.


The school sent out a notice that everyone that had left campus could not return to retrieve their things. The rest of us that were there were expected to fully move out by the end of the week to return home.

Moving is never fun, especially in a mad dash. Suddenly, my suite-mates and I were frantically trying to get storage units, book flights, and pack up in a matter of days. One of the highlights of the last time I spent with friends that year was driving to U-haul stores to buy boxes and packing supplies. It all happened so fast that it’s a blur to me now, but my suite-mates and I were moved out by that week. And suddenly, I was back at home.

Home School

Being back at home is always an experience, but usually I have time to prepare before moving back in with parents. That’s one of the first obstacles I had to face going into quarantine. I also began to realize online classes are much more difficult than they seem. Suddenly, I had to develop self-discipline of another level.

Classes became a passive experience. I wasn’t engaging with the class nor the material as I did before. I wasn’t retaining information, but I was taking it in and spitting it out. Before I knew it, the semester was over and I entered a period of summer stasis.

Summer Stasis

The summer felt more boring than usual during the pandemic. Social media became a huge source of entertainment (more than usual). Tiktok became my main hub of interest with games as a close second. I wasn’t very active, but I didn’t gain weight. Talking with friends was more to get my social quota than to catch up since we all were stuck inside.

Before I knew it, summer was coming to an end and school was around the corner. Wash U reached out to us regarding housing. They informed us that upperclassmen could not be guaranteed housing this year due to the pandemic arrangements being made. I went on a mad dash to find housing off campus.

I made quick arrangements and signed my first lease for the next academic year, which has its pros and cons. At the time, I was just relieved I found a place to stay for the academic year. I spent the rest of the summer preparing to move into my new home. Before I knew it, I was back in St. Louis with junior year coming full speed.


I never imagined my junior year would be like it has been, but that’s a story for the last part of this series. So much has changed for university life because of COVID 19. Incoming students and current students alike are unable to experience Wash U in it’s pre-pandemic state. Some of my favorite qualities of college life simply don’t even exist anymore!

As the spring semester of 2021 comes to a close, I’d like to share with everyone how my junior year in quarantine has been. What did I like about it? What was unexpectedly hard? How did I spend my day to day life? And what can an incoming student expect academic life to be like going forward?

I’m more than ecstatic to tell my story, and I hope you all enjoy how I navigated college life during a pandemic.


Allana Thompson