A year into the pandemic, students miss going to classes and events and look forward to normalcy next fall.

Around this time last year, students enjoyed in-person classes and looked forward to the spring weather. Then, COVID-19 became a threat to the U.S. March 2020, and what originally was going to be an extra week of spring break turned into a long year of uncertainty for students. 

“It’s crazy that it’s almost been a year since we were all sent home from campus. I’m honestly just looking forward to a return to the fun and exciting on-campus environment that I loved so much pre-COVID,” said Caleb Haney, a junior psychology major. “I miss being able to walk around campus and run into someone I know wherever I go. I’m definitely looking forward to a return of that on-campus environment.” 

Rapper DaBaby performs at Kent State

DaBaby while performing at Kent State in 2019.

Haney is also hoping for a return of the concerts and festivals Kent State used to hold, where artists like Jesse McCartney and DaBaby have performed in the past.

“What I miss the most, and what I’m most excited about in the future, is being able to go to Kent’s musicals and plays again,” said Caleb Salsbury, a junior theater major. “I used to work backstage during the shows and seeing the cast and crew all in their element and hearing the audience’s reactions was always such a great experience. You can’t recreate that through Zoom.”

With not as many students on campus this year, students have also expressed how much they miss being able to see their friends whenever and wherever they wanted. 

“I used to be able to walk down the hall in my dorm or a few steps across the street to another residence hall and hang out with all of my close friends,” Salsbury said. “Now, most of my friends are living at home due to all of their classes being online, and I haven’t seen some of them since we were sent home last year. I’m just excited to be able to hang out with them again, especially with next year being my senior year.”

Both Haney and Salsbury said they are also excited about classes returning to a more normal state so they can see their peers, classmates, and professors in person again. 

Hailey Kukral, freshman digital media production major, said she hasn’t been able to experience much of the college life she looked forward to due to COVID-19.

“It seemed normal at the beginning of the school year because everyone’s doors on my floor were open, and everyone was chatting with each other, safely, of course,” Kukral said. “It was just nice to see people again and meet other students.”

When asked about what events she looked forward to attending before coming to college, Kukral said that she heard about the movie nights in the Kiva, and the events that would happen in the residence halls, and hopes they come back in the future.

Paint and Sip Paintings

Hailey Kukral and her friends created artwork at a paint and sip event.

“My friends and I decided to participate in the KIC-sponsored paint and sip night just to have fun and feel a little bit normal again,” Kukral said. “So we’re looking forward to more experiences like that, but with other students around, rather than us just painting in our rooms.”

“We also just want to experience the spontaneity of what college life can be, like, with the snowball fight,” Kukral said. “My friends and I went and while we were distant from everyone else, we still had a good time and we could forget about COVID for awhile. Those are the types of things I’m most excited about.

“Even though the snowball fight was fun, big events aren’t really a necessity for me right now. I’m really looking forward to being able to do the small things normally again.”

Ashley Blood is a student life reporter. Contact her at ablood@kent.edu.

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