Although this semester marks the halfway point of the academic calendar, a handful of first-years are just joining the on-campus Lehigh community.
Leaving home for the first time and adjusting to life as a college student can present a number of challenges which have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. First-years who are new to campus this semester are facing the typical struggles of leaving their families for the first time with the added difficulty of the pandemic.
Rachel Houser, ‘24, expressed how challenging it was for her to leave her family to come to campus for the spring semester.
“I definitely thought about it a lot. I’m the youngest of five and all my siblings just went off to college and I just wanted to have a normal experience like them,” Houser said. “I really (weighed) the pros and cons of each.”
Houser said family was her primary reason for staying home first semester, but has decided to come to campus now because she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to mingle with her classmates. Unfortunately, it has not been so easy to do so.
“I really wanted to meet people. I didn’t really know anyone at all. It was hard. The first week I wanted my parents to come pick me up,” Houser said.
However, she is optimistic that campus life will become easier and more accessible, especially if cases are able to drop off after the current spike.
Geena Abrams, ‘24, is also living on campus for the first time. She said she has had a slightly easier time making connections.
“I was scared when I first got here, but from the beginning I was like, ‘be yourself,’ and I’ve made really good friends already. It’s definitely much better than I anticipated,” Abrams said. “I thought I would have no friends.”
Abrams said she has been able to meet people through her dorm and although it’s not the typical first-year experience, she is grateful for the people she has encountered.
Terrence Chun, ‘24, is also experiencing Bethlehem for the first time, but from a different perspective than most. Chun is living in an off-campus house this semester and unlike his peers who are living in dorms, he has had the opportunity to get to know some upperclassmen.
Chun said he feels separated from most of his class, but he has been able to create friendships with upperclassmen that he is greatly enjoying.
“(Recruitment) has definitely allowed me to meet new people, especially upperclassmen and they have helped me find new people that have the same interests,” Chun said.
Chun hopes to continue to build relationships with his peers as he goes through the recruitment process, and hopes to meet new people in his classes as well.