A Look Into How Students and Staff Experienced Their First Taste of Campus Life

The First Feel of College at FPU

After a long 18 months away from campus, FPU has finally opened its doors for on-campus learning once again. In March 2020 the world changed as FPU, along with schools around the world, were forced to move to a virtual college experience. In the blink of an eye, student’s bedrooms and home offices quickly became their classrooms, and learning from home became the new norm. The teachers became screens teaching through Zoom, and everyday school interactions became a thing of the past. One thing the online setting gave students and staff was perspective on learning. It may have seemed a lot easier to navigate school when the switch to online first started, but it became repetitive rather quickly. Fast forward to August 2021, those 18 months of online distance learning are behind many students. Now, the Sunbirds have a “new” norm to readjust to that everyone is excited for. However, the campus setting still feels weird to readjust to. For some, like the freshmans and sophomores, this is their first experience on a college campus setting. Juniors had the chance to enjoy a semester of being on campus before COVID-19 occurred. Seniors were the only class to actually have a full year of school on campus under their belt. So how exactly do some of these people feel about being on campus for the first time?

To better understand the feelings of those who never experienced the FPU campus, the Syrinx has decided to interview some students and staff for their thoughts. 

What has your first taste of campus life at FPU been like?

Jan Białecki: (International student from Poland) Freshman, Pre-Law:

 “I feel like everybody is very optimistic, and everybody wants to help. So it’s very nice.”

Dr. Seung Min Hong: Assistant Professor, Media & Film Studies: 

“ I obviously have a lot that I could say. But the first thing that comes to mind is that, literally, people are way nicer than what I would expect from, I’m not sure if I can say, a typical campus. And, to be completely honest, I do believe that a lot of that has to do with that Mennonite/Christian sort of environment so yeah, people are willing to help me and support me not only my fellow faculties, but also the students. I do feel a lot more supported as a new faculty member here. As for the campus, it is small, not in a bad way…this kind of small size is actually better. I can walk to the dining hall, grab something for lunch and come back. That’s something I could actually appreciate.”

Angel Ruelas: Sophomore, Business Management:

“The first day was a little tough. Even though I’m a sophomore, I really wasn’t familiar with the campus and the names of the buildings. I was late to a few classes so I was feeling like a freshman in high school again. Overall it’s been nice seeing people face to face once again.”

What does it feel like to be in an actual school setting, and not having to be online anymore?

Moe Bradley: Sophomore, Kinesiology:

 “I absolutely love the in person. It makes the personal connection way better. That’s definitely the one thing that I would take away is that over Zoom, you really can’t get any personal connection with your professor or your classmates, and I love that.”

Dr. Seung Min Hong: Assistant Professor, Media & Film Studies:

“I was teaching as an adjunct instructor back in Korea in an online setting. I taught there for two years, the first semester was in person, because that was before COVID. So second, third and fourth semester, and they were all completely online courses.  So I’m in my second semester there, which was my first time teaching online, everything was so sudden, you know, we had to make all these changes. So you know, basically, no one knew what they were doing, including myself. So that was such a swift transition, it was really hard. But beginning from the second semester of doing things online, I think I, not only the instructors, but also the students got used to it. So coming back to the normal campus setting, I mean it’s been years, since fall 2019 was the last time I taught an in-person class. So I gotta tell you, it does feel weird. It does feel almost like my first semester of teaching.”

Angel Ruelas: Sophomore, Business Management:

“It’s a bit relieving to be back in class. Many times while on Zoom, I would end up getting distracted and wouldn’t pay as much attention. It’s also great seeing my professors in person. They look a little different than what I imagined them to be through online classes. I like both online and in person classes, but I’m going to say in person is better simply because I grew up doing in person classes.”

Do you think you’ll find yourself more involved this year than ever before? What are some things you are trying to achieve now that we are back?

Hope Erwin: Sophomore, Graphic Design:

 “Yeah, I do. I’ve been trying to make friends. So I’ve been trying to get out there and meet as many people and do as many things as I can to live it up during college.”

Moe Bradley: Sophomore, Kinesiology:

“Yeah, I think that I’ll definitely be more involved not only just because of my job position with the student activities, but also just because there’ll be more opportunities to get involved on campus.”

As students and faculty alike make their transition back to campus, there’s definitely a greater appreciation for this method of learning. It may feel weird returning and getting used to the routine of in- person class again, however, that’s normal given all the prior circumstances. All that time away made students and staff realize how precious interactions in-person are, whether it be a lecture or a simple side conversation during our breaks. Through it all, one thing is for certain, it feels good to be back home at FPU.

Authors: Alicia Garcia and Julian Alcaraz | Staff Writer and Features Editor

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